Friday, 7 August 1987 Washington, DC
THE COST ESTIMATE OF THE MANNED SPACE STATION PROGRAM
only thing in NASA that is still going up. At the request of the
Reagan Administration, the National Research Council convened a
committee, headed by Robert C. Seamans, Jr., to examine cost
estimates, mission requirements and alternative configurations
for the space station
(WN 3 Jul 87). The Committee has issued
its first-phase report covering just the cost estimate, and it is
more bad news for the earth-bound agency. When Reagan approved
plans for the Space Station in 1984, NASA estimated the cost at
$8B, but as the design developed, the cost estimate rocketed to
$14.5B. The Seamans Report boosts that to an astronomical
$27.5B. The report cites elements essential to the Space Station
that have been carried by NASA in other accounts. The Committee
also believes that crew emergency rescue vehicles, which are not
now part of the program, will be needed.
The report goes on to identify several issues that could
substantially affect costs and program success. The most serious
of these is the limited payload capacity of the Shuttle, which
prevents the launch of fully assembled Space Station modules.
This greatly complicates on-orbit assembly. Moreover, current
plans for space station crew rotation would require about
two-thirds of all available Shuttle launches. The adequacy of
backup flight hardware planned by NASA and the ability of the
management structure, adopted by NASA to accommodate the demands
of the space station program, were also questioned in the
phase-one report. NASA officials can hardly wait for phase two.
. THE PLAN TO DOUBLE THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION BUDGET
(WN 9 Jan 87) could be another Challenger casualty.
Sen. John Stennis (D-MS), Chairman of the Appropriations
Committee, decreed that each appropriations subcommittee cut 1%.
That may not sound too serious, but in the HUD-Independent
Agencies Subcommittee most of the budget is in the form of
federal entitlement programs and cannot be touched. The only
sizeable pools of money that can be tapped are NASA and NSF.
Sen. Jake Garn (R-UT), the astronaut-congressman and Ranking
Minority Member of the subcommittee, is adamant that getting
America back into space is too urgent to risk even a single dime
coming out of NASA. That could leave NSF and the American Battle
Monuments Commission to take the full hit.
3. A NEW NSF OFFICE OF UNDERGRADUATE SCIENCE, ENGINEERING AND
will be headed by Robert W. Watson, a
chemist, who has been serving as head of the Office of College
4. CONGRESS ESCAPES THE WASHINGTON STEAM BATH TOMORROW
summer break and will resume on 9 Sep. The APS Office of Public
Affairs will, however, continue to bring you WHAT'S NEW.