oversight

Space Station: Cost to Operate After Assembly is Uncertain

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-08-06.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                   United States General Accounting Office

GAO                Report to Congressional Requesters




August 1999
                   SPACE STATION

                   Cost to Operate After
                   Assembly Is Uncertain




GAO/NSIAD-99-177
United States General Accounting Office                                                               National Security and
Washington, D.C. 20548                                                                         International Affairs Division



                                    B-280736                                                                                    Letter

                                    August 6, 1999

                                    The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
                                    Chairman
                                    Ranking Minority Member
                                    Committee on Science
                                    House of Representatives

                                    When completed around 2004, the goal of the International Space Station
                                    (ISS) is to provide the United States and its international partners with an
                                    Earth orbiting facility that supports human habitation and scientific
                                    research in a microgravity environment. Because of Russia’s ongoing
                                    problems in funding its share of the space station’s construction costs, the
                                    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is concerned that
                                    Russia may also not be able to fulfill its commitments to fund ISS
                                    operations costs. NASA estimated that the annual cost to operate the
                                    completed space station will average $1.3 billion, or $13 billion over a
                                    10-year mission life. NASA anticipates sharing these costs with its
                                    international partners, and it hopes to further reduce funding requirements
                                    through sharing with commercial users or through more efficient
                                    commercial operations.

                                    As requested by you and the late Representative George E. Brown, Jr., we
                                    reviewed NASA’s estimate for the cost to operate the space station after
                                    assembly is completed. Specifically, we were asked to determine (1) if any
                                    space station-related costs are not included in NASA’s estimate; (2) the
                                    level of uncertainty in the cost estimate for operations, especially with
                                    regard to the potential impact of changes in Russian participation; and
                                    (3) how NASA funding requirements will be reduced by sharing costs with
                                    international partners or through commercial use and operations. We
                                    reported on NASA’s efforts to promote commercial activity on the space
                                    station in a separate report to you.1



Results in Brief                    NASA’s $1.3 billion estimate does not include all funding requirements
                                    related to space station operations. NASA does not prepare budget


                                    1
                                      Space Station: Status of Efforts to Determine Commercial Potential (GAO/NSIAD-99-153R, June 30,
                                    1999).




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        estimates on a full-cost basis because it has not completed implementation
        of its full cost accounting system. Additional items that will have to be
        funded in the future within the space station budget include costs for
        upgrading obsolete systems and operating an alternative propulsion
        module. NASA has not developed detailed estimates for potential upgrades
        to combat component obsolescence and improve performance, but space
        station officials believe that a robust enhancement program could cost
        $100 million or more per year. NASA has not estimated the cost of
        operating an alternative propulsion module being procured to provide
        reboost if Russia is unable to provide that function. Items that we
        determined to be space station-related that are funded in other NASA
        budget lines include space shuttle flights, civil service personnel, principal
        investigators, and space communications; these are estimated to cost a
        total of $2.5 billion in fiscal year 2004.2 When NASA implements full cost
        accounting in 2001, some costs currently in other NASA budget lines will be
        included in the space station budget. In commenting on our draft report,
        NASA stated that shuttle flights should be allocated to the overall cost of
        operating the space station using a marginal cost of $84 million per flight
        rather than an average cost of $435 million. We believe the average cost per
        flight more accurately represents NASA resources related to operating the
        space station.

        There is a high degree of uncertainty in NASA’s estimate for the cost to
        operate the space station from 2005 to 2014. NASA’s original estimate of
        $13 billion for operating the space station was developed to aid in
        evaluating life-cycle costs of redesign options rather than to accurately
        forecast budget needs. This estimate did not consider end-of-mission costs
        for either extending the life of the space station beyond 10 years or
        decommissioning it. The estimate was also developed for an earlier space
        station configuration that has since been modified. NASA does not prepare
        detailed budget estimates for the space station and other programs beyond
        fiscal year 2004, the last year of its current 5-year budget-planning period.
        NASA recently began an effort to review its operations cost estimate and
        develop a long-range funding profile that would better reflect annual
        requirements over the 10-year operations period. Adding to the uncertainty
        of future costs, the full impact on operations if Russia is unable to fulfill its
        obligations is not known at this time. NASA would incur costs to operate
        an alternative propulsion module, but does not yet know whether there will



        2
            This amount does not include the cost of space communications.




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             be a shortfall in Russian logistics flights or how such a shortfall would be
             spread among the shuttle and international partner resupply vehicles.

             There is insufficient information at this time to determine the amount that
             NASA funding requirements could be reduced by international partners’
             contributions toward common operating costs. In sharing operating
             responsibilities for the space station, NASA and Russia have agreed to
             exchange services rather than funds. However, NASA and Russia may not
             be able to achieve a balance in the services provided to each other if Russia
             cannot fulfill its obligations. NASA’s share of common operating costs has
             increased and could change again if international partners revise their
             participation in the space station program. It is likely that the partners will
             provide services for the space station rather than transfer funding to NASA
             to pay for their shares of operating costs. Allowing partners to pay
             common costs with services may not reduce NASA funding requirements.
             For example, if partners pay for their common costs by launching space
             station payloads for NASA that could have been launched on the space
             shuttle, it likely will not offset NASA’s budget. At this time, it is not possible
             to accurately determine what the partners may owe for reimbursable costs
             for shuttle launch services and communications, or how the partners
             would pay for these services.

             Because NASA has already initiated actions to review its ISS operations
             cost estimate and to develop a 10-year funding profile for the period after
             assembly is complete, we are not making recommendations in this report.
             We will monitor NASA’s progress in developing the 10-year funding profile.



Background   In 1984, President Ronald Reagan directed NASA to develop a permanently
             manned space station and invited other countries to participate. NASA’s
             original partners included Canada, Europe, and Japan.3 In 1993, the space
             station was redesigned to incorporate significant contributions from
             Russia.4 In 1997, Brazil became a participant in the program. Appendix I
             describes the partners’ contributions to the space station.




             3
              Members of the European Space Agency participating in the ISS program include Belgium, Denmark,
             France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
             4
               Space Station: Update on the Impact of the Expanded Russian Role (GAO/NSIAD-94-248, July 29,
             1994).




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The ISS will be a large and complex space vehicle, weighing more than four
times Russia’s existing Mir space station. It will take more than 80
launches and 1,900 hours of spacewalks over a 6-year period to complete
assembly. The first two elements of the space station were launched in
1998, with the completion of assembly currently planned for 2004. When
assembly is complete, ISS will measure 356 feet and weigh nearly one
million pounds. In 1998, we estimated that U.S. funding for the space
station development and assembly would total $53 billion.5 Figure 1
depicts the fully assembled space station.




5
  International Space Station: U.S. Life-Cycle Funding Requirements (GAO/NSIAD-98-147, May 22,
1998).




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Figure 1: Artist’s Conception of Fully Assembled ISS on Orbit.




                                           Source: NASA.


                                           Estimating the cost to operate a facility as complex as the space station so
                                           far into the future is a challenging task. After assembly is complete, ISS
                                           will begin a long-term mission that will run from 2005 to 2014. During this
                                           10-year period, NASA estimates that annual space station operating costs
                                           will average $1.3 billion, for a total of $13 billion. After this initial period of



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                       operations, NASA and its partners will decide whether to continue to
                       operate the space station and for how long.



Space Station Budget   NASA’s space station budget line does not contain all funding requirements
                       related to space station operations. NASA has not completed
Does Not Contain All   implementation of a full-cost accounting system. Consequently, estimates
Related Items          presented in this report were not prepared on a full-cost basis. Additional
                       costs to replace or upgrade aging components and to operate a propulsion
                       module will need to be funded within the space station budget. NASA’s
                       annual estimate of $1.3 billion for operations does not include costs
                       totaling more than $2.5 billion for items such as space shuttle flights, civil
                       service personnel, principal investigators, and space communications.

Full-cost Accounting   NASA initiated a plan to implement full-cost accounting practices in 1995 to
                       respond to new federal financial accounting standards and to direction
                       from an internal NASA review team. In 1995, the federal government
                       approved new managerial cost-accounting standards, including a specific
                       standard on full-cost accounting. In addition, during 1995, NASA
                       completed a Zero Base Review that involved a comprehensive analysis
                       related to streamlining NASA activities. The Zero Base Review team
                       indicated that NASA should improve cost information and pursue full-cost
                       management.

                       NASA’s full-cost concept integrates several fundamental accounting,
                       budgeting, and management improvements. NASA officials told us that
                       implementation of full-cost accounting was originally scheduled for fiscal
                       year 1999, but has been delayed to fiscal year 2001. When it is
                       implemented, the space station budget will include several additional items
                       that are currently funded in other budgets. For example, the civil service
                       and space communications costs related to the space station will be funded
                       in the space station budget. In addition, the space station budget will
                       include other costs, such as a share of the general and administrative costs
                       and institutional capabilities providing direct support to the program.




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Additional Costs That Will   In estimating the cost to operate the space station, NASA considers only
Need to Be Funded in Space   those elements that are funded in the space station budget.6 Table 1 shows
                             the funding requirements for these elements for fiscal year 2004 as
Station Budget Line
                             estimated in NASA’s fiscal year 2000 budget submission. 7 Appendix II
                             provides brief descriptions of each of the budget elements that are related
                             to space station operations.




                             6
                              The NASA budget is divided into five main budget lines: International Space Station; Launch Vehicles
                             and Payloads; Science, Aeronautics and Technology; Mission Support; and Inspector General.
                             7
                              NASA’s fiscal year 2004 budget estimate for the space station includes $1,361 million for operations
                             and $212 million for development, for a total of $1,573 million.




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                                Table 1: Elements of Operations Cost to Be Funded in Space Station Budget
                                Current dollars in millions
                                Elements                                                                                   FY 2004a
                                Operations planning & cargo integration                                                           $21
                                Sustaining engineering                                                                            224
                                Logistics & maintenance                                                                           128
                                Station operations support                                                                        202
                                Launch site processing                                                                             65
                                Institutional support                                                                              62
                                Utilization Support                                                                               108
                                Research Projects                                                                                 360
                                Crew Return Vehicle Operations                                                                     23b
                                Unallocated program reserves                                                                      169
                                Total                                                                                          $1,361c
                                a
                                 According to NASA officials, the operations portion of the projected budget for fiscal year 2004—the
                                year the space station should be completed—should approximate the budget for the operations period
                                after assembly is completed.
                                b
                                 Operations costs are included in the crew return vehicle (CRV) development budget in fiscal
                                year 2004.
                                c
                                 Total does not add due to rounding.


                                The current estimate does not reflect the cost of likely additions to the
                                program. Specifically, NASA has begun planning for the replacement or
                                upgrade of obsolete components as the space station ages. In addition,
                                NASA will procure an alternative propulsion module to reduce dependence
                                on Russia for critical guidance, navigation, control, and reboost functions.

Replacing Obsolete Components   NASA recognizes that obsolescence will be an issue for the space station
                                and that additional funding will likely be needed to fully address it. An
                                April 1998 report by the NASA Advisory Council also raised the
                                obsolescence issue.8 The report stated that based on the current speed of
                                technological advancement, the normal rate of obsolescence in space
                                systems and computer technology would cause major cost growth for the
                                space station in later years. In its response to the report, NASA
                                acknowledged that the space station program did not have any funds
                                specifically for obsolescence upgrades. While the program had funds


                                8
                                 Report of the Cost Assessment and Validation Task Force on the International Space Station , NASA
                                Advisory Council, April 21, 1998.




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                                budgeted for sustaining engineering and logistics and maintenance, NASA
                                stated that those monies would be inadequate to support a meaningful
                                upgrade program for major systems. The logistics and maintenance
                                budget, for instance, funds the replacement of components that fail as a
                                result of normal wear and tear. These funds could also be used to upgrade
                                minor systems or discrete components. However, additional funding
                                would be needed to upgrade major systems whose replacement is not
                                included in the budget.

                                NASA has begun planning for the replacement of obsolete components as a
                                part of its pre-planned program improvements. The objectives of this
                                program include: increasing reliability, maintainability, and sustainability;
                                enhancing research productivity and capability; and improving operational
                                capability and reducing costs. Funding for the program is currently limited
                                to $28.9 million for studying high priority enhancements. The studies have
                                identified several candidates for replacement or upgrade. For example,
                                NASA is studying how to upgrade the space station’s current computer
                                system from 386-based processors, which are considered third-generation,
                                to at least fifth-generation processors that are currently available. NASA is
                                concerned that the 386 processors will not be able to handle growth in
                                processing requirements and that parts for these processors may not be
                                available 5 to 10 years from now. NASA has not yet developed detailed cost
                                estimates for implementing the enhancements identified in the studies.
                                Space station officials said that a robust enhancement program could
                                potentially cost $100 million or more per year. Upgrading and enhancing
                                the components could become more critical if the space station will
                                operate for more than 10 years.

Operating a Propulsion Module   NASA will also need to fund the costs of operating a propulsion module
                                within the space station budget. Russia is responsible for providing the
                                propulsion capability for the space station as well as guidance, navigation,
                                and control functions. Because of Russia’s ongoing financial problems,
                                NASA is studying an alternative propulsion and guidance and navigation
                                capability. Space station officials have not yet developed an estimate for
                                the cost of operating a propulsion module. Most of the operating costs
                                would be incurred for spares and sustaining engineering.


Some Costs of Space Station     Several items related to the space station are not included in its operations
Operations Are Funded in        estimate because they are funded in other NASA budget lines. These
                                items--which include the annual cost of space shuttle support, civil
Other NASA Budget Lines
                                servants, principal investigators, and space communications--total more



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                            than $2.5 billion in fiscal year 2004.9 When NASA implements full cost
                            accounting in 2001, some of these costs will be reflected in the space
                            station budget.

Space Shuttle Support       NASA estimates that five to six shuttle flights a year will be needed to
                            support the space station after assembly is completed: Five flights will be
                            launched each year to resupply the space station and rotate crew, and a
                            sixth shuttle flight will be launched every 3 years to exchange the CRV.
                            Based on an average cost of $435 million per flight in fiscal year 2004, about
                            $2.2 billion to $2.6 billion of the annual space shuttle budget should be
                            considered space station-related costs.10

                            Space station-related shuttle costs would increase commensurately if the
                            number of flights to the space station increases because the international
                            partners cannot fulfill their launch commitments or because the shuttle has
                            to rotate two crew return vehicles instead of one. An increase in the
                            number of shuttle flights dedicated to supporting the space station may
                            also increase the shuttle budget if the overall flight rate increases. In
                            developing the shuttle budget, NASA plans to support seven flights per
                            year. If an additional space station-related flight can be accommodated
                            within those seven planned flights, the shuttle budget would remain the
                            same and another $435 million of that total budget would be considered a
                            space station-related cost. If an additional space station-related flight
                            would increase the flight rate from seven to eight, the shuttle budget would
                            have to be increased by the marginal costs for processing another flight.
                            The marginal cost includes the costs of personnel, hardware, and
                            consumables such as propellant that can be added or removed from the
                            program when there is a temporary adjustment in the flight rate. NASA
                            estimates that the marginal cost for adding one shuttle flight to the overall
                            manifest is about $84 million.

Civil Servants, Principal   The cost for salaries and benefits associated with the approximately 2,300
Investigators, and Space    civil servants supporting space station operations in fiscal year 2004 is
Communications              around $260 million. Civil servant costs are funded in the Research and
                            Program Management portion of NASA’s Mission Support budget. Funding


                            9
                                This amount does not include the cost of space communications.
                            10
                               Average cost per flight is defined as the total cost to operate the shuttle on a recurring and sustained
                            basis for a given year divided by the number of flights planned for that year. NASA plans to fly seven
                            flights annually during the operations period. The average and marginal costs per flight are based on
                            fiscal year 2004 estimates projected in NASA’s fiscal year 2000 budget submission to Congress.




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                            for principal investigators who will be flying experiments on the space
                            station is estimated at $49 million in fiscal year 2004. These costs are
                            funded in the Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications line
                            in NASA’s Science, Aeronautics, and Technology budget. Finally,
                            communications costs for the space station are currently funded in the
                            Space Communications portion of NASA’s Mission Support appropriation.
                            NASA is in the process of determining the extent of these costs as it
                            combines its space operations activities (communications, data transport,
                            and space vehicle command and control) under the Consolidated Space
                            Operations Contract.



High Degree of              There is a high degree of uncertainty in the estimated cost to operate the
                            space station from fiscal year 2005 to 2014. NASA has not prepared a
Uncertainty in NASA’s       detailed budget estimate for the space station beyond fiscal year 2004, the
Estimate of Cost to         last year of its 5-year budget planning period. NASA recently began
                            developing a 10-year funding profile for the operations period and expects
Operate the Space           to have a preliminary estimate in the fall of 1999. Adding to the uncertainty
Station                     of future costs is the question of Russia’s ability to fulfill its commitments
                            and whether NASA may have to compensate for a shortfall in Russian
                            support for the space station.


Detailed Budget Estimates   NASA’s initial $1.3 billion estimate for annual operations costs discussed
for the Operations Period   previously did not provide a basis for developing reliable budget estimates
                            for the period after assembly is complete. During a major redesign of the
Have Not Yet Been
                            space station in 1993, NASA developed an estimate for operations to aid in
Developed                   evaluating the life-cycle cost of various design alternatives. According to
                            NASA officials, this estimate was not meant to be a rigorous assessment of
                            funding requirements during the operations period. As part of the redesign
                            process, a NASA review team estimated the funding requirements for the
                            second full year of operations after the space station is completely
                            assembled. The team believed that the second year represented a typical
                            year of operations.11 This team arrived at an estimate of $1.3 billion for a
                            typical year of operation, and it extrapolated that figure over the 10-year
                            life of the space station for a total of $13 billion. This estimate did not
                            consider end-of-mission costs for either extending the life of the space
                            station beyond 10 years or decommissioning it. The estimate was also

                            11
                              The first year after completing assembly the space station would involve on-orbit verification of
                            hardware and systems and would likely have a higher than normal number of anomalies or problems.




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developed for a space station configuration that has since been modified to
include significant Russian participation and added elements such as a
propulsion module, CRVs, a third connecting node, and a centrifuge
accommodation module.

NASA program managers responsible for each of the various program cost
elements have not yet projected funding requirements for the operations
period (2005 to 2014) because it is outside the current budget-planning
horizon. NASA’s current budget-planning horizon is 5 years, extending only
through fiscal year 2004. Moreover, NASA officials told us that with all the
changes and replanning that have occurred in the ISS program in recent
years, they have had to focus budget activities on the development and
assembly period.

Some NASA managers told us that it would be difficult to project the
funding needed for some budget components until they knew how well the
space station would function. For example, they would need to know
actual failure rates for space station components before they can
accurately project the funding needed for spares and maintenance.
Similarly, the actual number of anomalies and engineering problems the
space station experiences will drive the funding requirements for the
sustaining engineering function. In the interim, NASA officials told us that
they will rely on computer modeling and analyses to project funding
requirements for these items.

Even when NASA has historical data on which to make projections for
elements, the total cost for these elements can depend to a large degree on
unpredictable factors. For example, NASA has sufficient information to
accurately estimate the launch site processing costs for a shuttle flight to
support the space station. However, these costs could vary depending on
the number of shuttle flights in a given year. NASA plans to provide five or
six shuttle flights annually to support the space station, but it could be
responsible for additional flights if any international partner is unable to
meet its launch and resupply commitments. There are uncertainties in
partner resupply commitments because (1) the payload capacity of the
European and Japanese cargo vehicles may be different than their design
specifications when the vehicles are actually built, (2) there is concern
about the number of Progress vehicles Russia may launch, and
(3) technical problems or launch failures could also temporarily ground
some of the resupply vehicles.




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                              As part of its fiscal year 2001 budget review cycle, NASA recently began an
                              effort to review its operations cost estimate and to develop a 10-year
                              funding profile that would more accurately reflect the year-to-year costs of
                              the program after assembly is complete. NASA officials expect to complete
                              a preliminary estimate of operations costs in the fall of 1999. This estimate
                              will be refined over the next program year. Many of the key people who
                              need to be involved in developing the long-term estimate are currently
                              working on near-term assembly operations. As part of the review, NASA
                              officials plan to identify factors or scenarios that could significantly alter
                              the profile.


Russia’s Ability to Fulfill   When Russia joined the program in 1993, it agreed to provide critical
Obligations Is Uncertain      hardware and services for space station operations. Russia is responsible
                              for providing crew living quarters, life support systems, guidance,
                              navigation, and attitude control for the space station through its Service
                              Module. In addition, Russia is responsible for supplying fuel and dry cargo
                              (food, water, clothes, spares, air, and nitrogen) and reboosting the space
                              station to maintain its proper orbit. The reboost and dry cargo resupply
                              will be accomplished by unmanned Russian Progress vehicles. Finally,
                              Russia will launch and return crews for the space station on Soyuz
                              vehicles. The Soyuz also will serve as the only emergency crew return
                              vehicles until the U.S.-developed crew return vehicle is available in 2004.

                              Beginning in late 1995, NASA became increasingly concerned about
                              Russia’s ability to adequately fund its space station commitments. Since
                              then, shortfalls in Russian funding have led to delays in the delivery of the
                              Service Module. NASA continues to be concerned about Russia’s funding
                              problems. For the 10 years of operations after assembly is complete,
                              NASA’s primary concern is Russia’s ability to produce and launch enough
                              Progress vehicles to reboost and resupply the space station. Current plans
                              call for Russia to launch three to four Progress vehicles annually to the
                              space station after assembly is completed.

                              NASA officials believe that Russia will be able to meet this Progress launch
                              rate, but NASA has developed contingency plans to protect against a
                              shortfall.12 NASA is studying development of an alternative propulsion
                              module that could provide guidance, navigation, attitude control, and


                              12
                                 Space Station: Status of Russian Involvement and Cost Control Efforts (GAO/T-NSIAD-99-117,
                              Apr. 29, 1999).




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                              reboost if Russia is unable to perform those functions. According to space
                              station program officials, propellant used by this module would be
                              scavenged from excess fuel on the shuttle while it is docked to ISS during
                              resupply missions. As discussed earlier, NASA has not yet estimated the
                              cost of operating this module. NASA is also reviewing options for
                              launching additional propellant and cargo on the shuttle and on the
                              planned European and Japanese resupply vehicles in the event Russia
                              reduces the number of Progress flights. NASA has not determined how the
                              increased resupply requirements would be spread among the vehicles or if
                              additional shuttle flights would be needed.



Unclear if NASA               In sharing operating responsibilities for the space station, NASA and Russia
                              have agreed to exchange services rather than funds. However, NASA and
Funding Requirements          Russia may not be able achieve a balance in the services provided to each
Will Be Reduced by            other. The cost of operating the space station is also supposed to be shared
                              with NASA’s other international partners. NASA’s share of common
Cost Sharing                  operating costs has increased slightly as partners have reduced their
Arrangements With             participation. Allowing the other partners to provide services to reimburse
Partners                      NASA for their shares of common costs may not offset NASA funding
                              requirements. The partners may also reimburse NASA for shuttle and
                              communication services, but the amount and form of reimbursement
                              cannot be accurately estimated at this time.


NASA and Russia May Not       For purposes of assigning operations responsibilities and costs, the space
Achieve Balance in Services   station is divided into the United States On-orbit Segment (USOS), which
                              includes hardware provided by NASA, Canada, Europe, and Japan and the
Provided
                              Russian Orbital Segment. Interaction between the two segments is
                              governed by agreements between NASA, representing USOS interests, and
                              the Russian Space Agency (RSA). The underlying basis for the agreements
                              is that the partners in each segment “keep what they bring”; that is, NASA
                              and the USOS partners will retain utilization rights in their segment and
                              operate and maintain elements they provide. Russia will retain utilization
                              rights to its facilities, and it will operate and maintain Russian elements.
                              The NASA-RSA agreements recognize that it may be more efficient for
                              certain services to be provided by a particular partner. A goal of the
                              agreements is to achieve a balance in services provided by partners in each
                              segment to the other over the assembly and operations period so as not to
                              require an exchange of funds between partners.




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                           The balance in services that was agreed to may not be achieved if Russia
                           reduces the number of Progress vehicles it launches to supply the space
                           station. In 1996, NASA and RSA signed the “Balance Protocol” listing the
                           services that each side would provide to the other during the assembly and
                           operation periods.13 As part of the balance in services, Russia agreed to
                           deliver half of the USOS propellant requirements during the 10 years of
                           operations after assembly is completed.14 However, if the Russians only
                           launch three to four Progress vehicles per year, NASA’s analysis of
                           propellant resupply indicates that Russia will not be able to deliver the full
                           amount of propellant as agreed. The shortfall would be delivered by a
                           European cargo vehicle that will also transport propellant for the USOS.
                           According to a space station program official, the 1996 protocol would
                           have to be amended to maintain balance if the Russians are unable to
                           provide all of the agreed to hardware and services. The Balance Protocol
                           provides that if it is necessary in the future to adjust NASA and RSA
                           contributions and obligations, the parties will attempt to resolve any issues
                           through the use of barter.


Common Operating Costs     International agreements governing the space station partnership specify
Are to Be Shared by USOS   that each USOS partner is responsible for funding the operation and
                           maintenance of the elements that it contributes, the research activities it
Partners
                           conducts, and a share of common operating costs. Under current planning,
                           NASA will fund the entire cost of USOS common supplies and ground
                           operations costs and then be reimbursed by the other partners for their
                           shares. Eventually, partners may provide some common items, such as
                           crew supplies or propellant, directly rather than reimburse NASA for those
                           costs. The partners’ shares of USOS common costs are as follows: NASA,
                           76.6 percent; Canada, 2.3 percent; Europe, 8.3 percent; and Japan,
                           12.8 percent. These percentages are linked to the partners’ rights to
                           research utilization resources on the space station. For example, NASA is
                           entitled to 76.6 percent of crew time, power, and data processing available
                           for research and is therefore responsible for 76.6 percent of the common
                           costs. Utilization rights are determined by each partner’s contributions to


                           13
                            Protocol Including Terms, Conditions, and Assumptions, Summary Balance of Contributions and
                           Obligations to International Space Station (ISS) and Resulting Rights of NASA and RSA to ISS
                           Utilization Accommodations and Resources, and Flight Opportunities, June 11, 1996.
                           14
                             Partners in both segments are responsible for providing propellant to the space station proportion to
                           the mass of hardware each provides. Therefore, USOS partners are responsible for providing
                           71 percent of the total propellant required during 10 years of operations after assembly is completed
                           and Russia is responsible for providing the remaining 29 percent.




                           Page 15                                             GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
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the development and assembly of the space station. Under bilateral
agreements with NASA, Italy and Brazil are also providing hardware in
exchange for small shares of NASA’s utilization rights.

Each partner will be responsible for a percentage of two types of common
operating costs: common ground operations and transportation of common
supplies. NASA, in consultation with the other USOS partners, determined
the categories and amounts of ground operating costs that will be shared.
Common ground operations costs were estimated to be $305.3 million in
fiscal year 2004, or 33 percent of the total funding for the common
categories in NASA’s budget. Table 2 shows the categories of ground
operations costs and the amount that will be shared as common costs.



Table 2: Common Ground Operating Costs for Fiscal Year 2004
Current dollars in million
Common ground operations categories                                     Common cost
Integrated tactical planning                                                    $52.7
Space systems operations                                                        106.5
POICa operations and logistics                                                   46.6
Integrated logistics systems operations                                          28.8
Pre-launch/post-landing operations                                                70.7
Total                                                                          $305.3
a
Payload Operations and Integration Center.


Common supplies to be transported to the space station include propellant,
crew, crew supplies such as food and clothing, life support gases, and
water. Common transportation requirements were estimated to average
about 66,000 kilograms per year over the 10-year period after assembly is
completed. A partner may reimburse NASA for launching its share of
supplies on the shuttle, fund the launch of the common supplies on its own
resupply vehicle, or purchase or barter for launch services from another
partner. Table 3 shows the allocations of common ground operations costs
and common supply transportation requirements for each USOS partner.




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                            Table 3: USOS Partner Shares of Annual Common Operations Costs
                            Current dollars in millions
                                                       Percent of        Common ground            Common transportation
                            USOS partner            common costs         operating costsa                    kilogramsb
                            United States                       76.6                 $233.9                      50,556
                            Canada                                2.3                       7.0                   1518
                            Europe                                8.3                   25.3                      5,478
                            Japan                               12.8                    39.1                      8,448
                            Total                              100.0                 $305.3                      66,000
                            a
                            Estimated common ground operating costs for fiscal year 2004.
                            b
                            Approximate average annual common cargo requirement.


                            As stipulated in the international agreements, NASA’s partners do not pay
                            common operating costs until they begin utilizing the space station.
                            Partner utilization is expected to begin when their research modules are
                            launched and outfitted near the end of the assembly sequence. The
                            Japanese laboratory module should be ready for utilization in fiscal year
                            2003; the European laboratory module in fiscal year 2004. Canada does not
                            have its own laboratory but has rights to research facilities in other partner
                            modules. Canada can begin conducting research in 2000 after its major
                            hardware contribution, the space station’s robotic arm, is attached to the
                            space station and verified. Canada plans to begin utilization in 2001, but
                            has flexibility to delay starting its research. NASA will be solely
                            responsible for funding USOS space station operations for most of the
                            assembly period, and it will also be the only partner with utilization
                            privileges during most of that period. Russia also has utilization rights in
                            its segment during assembly. To conduct research before their laboratories
                            are available, partners can purchase or barter for early utilization rights
                            from NASA or RSA.


NASA’s Share of Costs Has   NASA’s share of common costs has increased from 71.4 percent in 1988 to
Changed Over Time           76.6 percent at present, and its share could change again if the partners
                            reassess their level of participation in the space station program. If the
                            shared costs were $305 million and common transportation requirements
                            were 66,000 kilograms, the total 5.2 percent increase in NASA’s annual
                            share of common ground operations costs would be about $16 million and
                            of transportation requirements would be about 3400 kilograms. If, over the
                            life of the space station, partners reduce their participation in the program,
                            NASA could become responsible for a larger share of operating costs and



                            Page 17                                          GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
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                           transportation requirements. A space station program official said that
                           changes in partner allocations have to be agreed to by all the parties
                           concerned. The official also pointed out that a reduction in a partner’s
                           utilization share presents an opportunity for NASA to increase its share of
                           utilization without contributing additional hardware. NASA would only
                           have to fund an increased share of common operations.

                           Allocations have already been renegotiated and adjusted in two cases: the
                           Canadian share has been reduced from 3.0 percent to 2.3 percent and the
                           European share reduced from 12.8 percent to 8.3 percent. In both cases,
                           NASA acquired the partners’ shares of costs along with a commensurate
                           share of utilization rights. Because of funding shortages in 1994, the
                           Canadian government proposed revising its contribution to the space
                           station, and NASA agreed to provide the goods and services that Canada no
                           longer planned to contribute. In 1998, NASA and Canada agreed that
                           Canada could provide some of its hardware as payment for common costs
                           rather than as a contribution of infrastructure. Because the 1994 and 1998
                           agreements resulted in Canada providing less hardware and fewer services
                           as a contribution, Canada’s share of utilization rights dropped from 3.0 to
                           2.3 percent, which also had the effect of reducing its share of common
                           costs by the same amount. Consequently, NASA’s share of utilization rights
                           and common costs increased by 0.7 percent. In 1995, Europe downsized its
                           research module--its main hardware contribution--and believed that both
                           its share of utilization resources and common costs should be reduced
                           accordingly. After reviewing revised European and NASA contributions, it
                           was agreed that Europe’s share of utilization and common costs would be
                           reduced from 12.8 to 8.3 percent, and NASA’s would increase by
                           4.5 percent.


Allowing Partners to Pay   The international agreements stress that the partners should seek to
Common Costs With          minimize the exchange of funds through the performance of specific space
                           station operations activities or, if the concerned partners agree, through the
Services May Not Reduce
                           use of barter. NASA and its partners have agreed that rather than
NASA Funding               transferring funds to NASA for common operating costs the partners can
Requirements               propose performing common system operations or other services to offset
                           payments. NASA will consider and agree to offsets on a case-by-case basis.
                           NASA and the partners will attempt to find offsets within the space station
                           program. If offsets within the space station program are not feasible, NASA
                           is also willing to consider offsets unrelated to the space station. For
                           example, rather than transferring funds to NASA for common space station
                           costs, a partner could propose launching a NASA space science satellite.



                           Page 18                                GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
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Europe and Japan plan to develop and launch space station resupply
vehicles that could carry their shares of common transportation
requirements along with partner research payloads and logistics and
maintenance items for their modules. Europe is developing the Automated
Transfer Vehicle (ATV) and Japan is developing the H-II Transfer Vehicle
(HTV). Europe and Japan would also like to launch additional payloads for
NASA to offset their shares of common ground costs and thereby minimize
transfer of funds to NASA. For purposes of calculating the value of
common cargo launched, NASA determined that it would offset a partner’s
common ground operations costs by about $22,000 for each kilogram of
cargo launched for NASA. For example, if NASA agrees, Europe could
launch 1,149 kilograms of payload on the ATV for NASA in lieu of paying
NASA $25.3 million for Europe’s 8.3 percent share of common ground
operations costs. Table 4 shows the allocation of the estimated $305.3
million common ground operating costs to the partners and the conversion
of those common costs to kilograms of payload that could be launched as
an offset.



Table 4: Partner Shares of Common Ground Operating Costs Expressed in
Kilograms
Current dollars in millions
                                                   Partner common           Partner cost in
USOS partner                                           ground costa             kilogramsb
United States                                                    $233.9             10,608
Canada                                                              7.0                319
Europe                                                             25.3               1149
Japan                                                              39.1               1773
Total                                                            $305.3             13,848
a
 Estimated common ground operating costs for fiscal year 2004.
b
 Kilograms not exact due to rounding during conversion.


European and Japanese vehicles will make an important contribution to
resupplying the space station, but they may not carry enough cargo to fully
offset those partners’ common costs. NASA periodically prepares a
transportation traffic model for the operations period that identifies which
resupply vehicles could carry which payloads (the actual payloads to be
flown on specific vehicles will not be determined until it is closer to launch
time). The models indicate that European and Japanese cargo vehicles
would not carry enough common cargo to fully offset their shares of
common transportation and ground costs. The partners will have to



Page 19                                           GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
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provide additional launches, other services, or funding to NASA to fully
reimburse NASA for common operating costs.

Allowing Europe and Japan to reimburse NASA with launch services as
payment toward annual common ground operating costs would not
necessarily produce a corresponding reduction in NASA’s funding
requirements. If Europe and Japan launch approximately 2,900 kilograms
of NASA cargo that could have been carried on the shuttle, it would not
offset NASA annual appropriations by the $64 million value assigned to that
amount of cargo. Whether the cargo could be loaded on the shuttle cannot
be determined until about 2 years prior to a scheduled launch, when actual
payloads are selected for a particular flight. Space station officials pointed
out that even if shifting some cargo from the shuttle to a partner vehicle
does not change the shuttle flight rate, it could benefit the program by
increasing opportunities to fly other items, such as research or commercial
payloads on the shuttle.

Canada has also sought to pay common costs through services. Since
Canada does not have its own launch capability to offer as an offset to
common costs, it proposed providing the Special Purpose Dexterous
Manipulator (SPDM) that it was developing for the space station and other
services as payment for common costs rather than as a contribution for
utilization rights.15 In return for providing the SPDM, Canada’s common
costs will be offset by 2 percent for up to 4 years, equivalent to a
$24-million reduction in its share of ground operations costs and around
5,300 kilograms in common transportation requirements. The agreement
between Canada and NASA includes an option for an additional offset to
common operating costs. If Canada agrees to assume responsibility for the
repair and overhaul of the Canadian robotic arm, which shifted to NASA in
1994, NASA would further reduce Canada’s payments for common ground
operations and transportation requirements.

Allowing Canada to pay its share of common costs with the SPDM does not
reduce NASA funding requirements for space station operations. NASA
and Canada are simply reclassifying hardware that Canada is planning to
provide from a contribution to a payment for common costs. There will be
no reduction to NASA’s budget for the value of the SPDM offset. NASA
officials believed that allowing Canada to pay its common costs with the


15
  The SPDM can be thought of as the “hand’ attached to the space station’s robotic arm that Canada is
providing as its main contribution. The SPDM can be used to manipulate delicate objects.




Page 20                                             GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
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                            SPDM was preferable to Canada further scaling back its contribution to the
                            space station and NASA possibly having to spend substantially more to
                            develop the SPDM or similar capability. Space station program officials
                            said that there would be a reduction in NASA’s budget for the cost of
                            maintaining the arm if Canada exercises the optional offset.


Not Yet Possible to         During the space station’s operational phase after assembly is complete,
Accurately Estimate the     NASA may provide launch and return transportation services on the space
                            shuttle and communication services on its data relay satellite system to
Amount of Potential
                            other partners on a reimbursable basis. To support their utilization plans,
Funding From Partners for   partners have a right to obtain an allocation of the total transportation and
Reimbursable Services       communication services available for utilization commensurate with their
                            shares of utilization resources. A partner may satisfy its allocation by
                            providing its own transportation and communication systems or
                            purchasing from any other partner providing such services. NASA, Europe,
                            Japan, and Russia plan to provide transportation services, and NASA,
                            Japan, and Russia plan to provide communication services.

                            It is too early in the planning process to accurately project partner use of
                            reimbursable NASA services. Although integrated transportation models
                            make assumptions about the amount of utilization payloads that could be
                            loaded on each resupply flight, specific partner payloads will not be
                            assigned to a particular vehicle until about 2 years prior to a scheduled
                            launch. Europe and Japan are developing their own resupply vehicles, but
                            will likely still use the shuttle for payloads because the shuttle provides the
                            best conditions for some experiments during launch and is the only vehicle
                            that can return cargo. Russia’s Soyuz capsule also returns to Earth, but is
                            primarily used to return crew and has very little capacity to bring back
                            other payloads. After delivering supplies to the space station, the
                            European and Japanese vehicles will be loaded with trash, and after leaving
                            the space station they will be destroyed during reentry. To communicate
                            with the space station, the other partners may also purchase available
                            capacity on NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS), but
                            NASA officials believe that it is too early to tell how much demand the
                            partners will have for TDRSS services.

                            If partners do use available space shuttle and TDRSS capacity, they are
                            likely to barter for these reimbursable services rather than exchange funds
                            with NASA. For example, Europe agreed to build two space station
                            cupolas for NASA in exchange for launch and return of five external
                            payloads. As with the barters for common operating costs, it is too early to



                            Page 21                                 GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
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                  tell what services the partners may provide or whether those services will
                  reduce NASA funding requirements. In considering future offsets or
                  pricing shuttle services, NASA has assumed that shuttle cargo will be
                  valued at about $22,000 per kilogram for launch or return services. NASA
                  has not yet priced potential TDRSS services to partners.



Conclusions       The complexity, long life, and international nature of the space station
                  program make it extremely challenging to accurately forecast future
                  operating costs. Since NASA originally estimated the cost to operate the
                  space station, the configuration has changed and new partners are
                  participating. Significant uncertainties exist with respect to the funding
                  that may be required to upgrade obsolete components and to mitigate
                  shortfalls in Russian performance. Adding to this uncertainty is the fact
                  that the start of full operations in late 2004 is outside the current 5-year
                  window for detailed NASA budgets. Also unknown at this time is the
                  degree that agreements with international partners for sharing costs and
                  for reimbursable services will offset NASA funding requirements.

                  NASA’s recent initiative to prepare a 10-year funding profile should produce
                  a more accurate estimate of future costs. In preparing this profile, NASA
                  will have an opportunity to incorporate significant changes in the program
                  since the original $1.3 billion estimate and to reduce significant
                  uncertainties surrounding operations. In particular, NASA should have
                  more information on requirements for combating obsolescence and
                  Russia’s ability to fulfill its commitments. The cost estimate for operating
                  the space station should also improve over the next several years as NASA
                  gains operational experience. Also, when NASA implements full-cost
                  accounting, NASA will be better able to estimate the overall agency
                  resources required to operate the space station. Until NASA revises its
                  estimate and identifies the potential effects of significant uncertainties,
                  decisionmakers in Congress, the administration, and NASA should
                  recognize the uncertainties associated with the current estimate for the
                  cost to operate the space station after assembly is completed.



Agency Comments   NASA agreed with the contents of the draft report with the exception of our
                  use of the average cost per flight in preparing an estimate of shuttle costs
                  related to the space station. NASA believes that it is more appropriate to
                  use the marginal cost per flight to calculate shuttle support costs for the
                  space station. NASA describes the average cost per flight as a calculation



                  Page 22                                 GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
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              to capture the fixed-base investment of the agency that must be borne by
              the program whether 1 or 10 flights are required. According to NASA, the
              average cost per flight can be used to gauge the overall agency resources
              committed to the space station, but should not be used to determine the
              direct budget impact of the ISS program. Using the marginal cost per flight
              of $84 million in fiscal year 2004, NASA believes that the shuttle support
              costs for space station for five to six flights per year would range from
              $420 million to $504 million. NASA’s comments on the draft report are
              presented in their entirety in appendix III.

              We believe the use of average cost per flight is more appropriate in
              determining the amount of NASA’s budget that can be attributed to
              operating the space station. As noted in NASA’s comments, the average
              cost per flight can be used to gauge the overall agency resources
              committed to the space station. This is precisely why we use the average
              cost per flight. Because 75 percent of planned shuttle flights after 2004 will
              be for space station support, we believe that 75 percent of the fixed base
              for the shuttle should be allocated as a cost of the space station program.
              As discussed in our report, we believe it is appropriate to use the marginal
              cost per flight in budgetary decisions about whether to increase or
              decrease the overall shuttle flight rate.



Scope and     We reviewed space station-related costs in NASA’s budget for the 10-year
              period of operations following the space station’s assembly. To determine
Methodology   which space station-related costs were not included in NASA’s estimate for
              ISS operations, we reviewed prior GAO reports on space station life-cycle
              costs and Space Station Program Office (SSPO) budget documents. We
              interviewed NASA officials in the SSPO, Space Shuttle Program Office,
              Microgravity Research Program Office, Office of Human Space Flight,
              Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications, and Office of the
              Comptroller. We also discussed obsolescence issues with a member of
              NASA’s space station Cost Assessment and Validation Task Force and the
              National Research Council’s Committee on Engineering Challenges to the
              Long-Term Operation of the International Space Station.

              To determine the level of uncertainty in NASA’s operations cost estimate,
              we reviewed NASA Operations Phase Analysis Team reports and
              interviewed NASA officials involved in preparing the initial operations cost
              estimate as well as SSPO officials responsible for estimating current
              operations cost elements. We also interviewed officials from the Space
              Shuttle Program Office, Microgravity Research Program Office, Office of



              Page 23                                 GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
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Human Space Flight, Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and
Applications, and Office of the Comptroller. To determine the potential
impact of Russian performance problems, we reviewed NASA’s
contingency plans and ISS integrated traffic models, and interviewed
officials from the SSPO’s Mission Integration Office.

To determine if cost-sharing arrangements with international partners
would reduce NASA’s funding requirements, we reviewed the
intergovernmental agreement on space station between the United States
and partner governments, memoranda of understanding and implementing
agreements between NASA and partner space agencies, and ISS integrated
traffic models. We interviewed officials from the SSPO’s International
Partners Office and Mission Integration Office.

We performed our work between July 1998 and May 1999 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards at NASA
headquarters in Washington, D.C.; the Johnson Space Center in Houston,
Texas; and the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.


Unless you publicly announce its contents earlier, we plan no further
distribution of this report until 15 days from its issue date. At that time, we
will send copies to Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman,
andRepresentative Bart Gordon, Ranking Minority Member, House
Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics; the Honorable Daniel Goldin,
NASA Administrator; the Honorable Jacob Lew, Director, Office of
Management and Budget; and other interested parties. We will also make
copies available to others on request.

If you have any questions regarding this report, please contact me
at (202) 512-4841. Other key contacts are listed in appendix IV.




Allen Li
Associate Director,
Defense Acquisitions Issues




Page 24                                 GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
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Page 25    GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
Contents



Letter                                                                                             1


Appendix I                                                                                        28
International Partner
Contributions

Appendix II                                                                                       35
Description of
Operation Costs
Budget Elements

Appendix III                                                                                      37
Comments From the
National Aeronautics
and Space
Administration

Appendix IV                                                                                       38
GAO Staff
Acknowledgments

Tables                  Table 1: Elements of Operations Cost to Be Funded in Space
                          Station Budget                                                           8
                        Table 2: Common Ground Operating Costs for Fiscal Year 2004               16
                        Table 3: USOS Partner Shares of Annual Common Operations
                          Costs                                                                   17
                        Table 4: Partner Shares of Common Ground Operating Costs
                          Expressed in Kilograms                                                  19
                        Table I.1: Approximate Hardware Mass Provided by Partners                 30
                        Table I.2: Allocation of Research Facilities and Resources                33




                        Page 26                             GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
          Contents




Figures   Figure 1: Artist’s Conception of Fully Assembled ISS on Orbit                5
          Figure I.1: Components of ISS                                               29
          Figure I.2: ISS Transportation Capabilities                                 34




          Abbreviations

          ATV        Automated Transfer Vehicle
          CRV        Crew Return Vehicle
          HTV        H-II Transfer Vehicle
          IGA        Intergovernmental Agreement
          ISS        International Space Station
          JEM        Japanese Experiment Module
          NASA       National Aeronautics and Space Administration
          POIC       Payload Operations and Integration Center
          RSA        Russian Space Agency
          SPDM       Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator
          SSPO       Space Station Program Office
          TDRSS      Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System
          ULC        Unpressurized Logistics Carrier
          USOS       United States On-Orbit Segment




          Page 27                               GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
Appendix I

International Partner Contributions                                                                                            Appenx
                                                                                                                                    Idi




International Space         The major partners in the International Space Station (ISS) program
                            include the United States; Canada; Europe (Belgium, Denmark, France,
Station Partners            Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the
                            United Kingdom); Japan; and Russia. Brazil is also participating in the
                            space station program. The overall framework for international
                            cooperation is contained in an intergovernmental agreement (IGA),
                            originally signed by the partners in 1988 and updated in 1998 to add Russia
                            to the partnership.1 Brazil is not a signatory to the IGA, but instead
                            participates in the ISS program through an arrangement with National
                            Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Cooperation on the space
                            station is further defined in memoranda of understanding between NASA
                            and each of the major partners. NASA also has a series of bilateral
                            agreements with individual partners for barter of goods and services.

Hardware Contributions by   Each of the partners has agreed to provide components to the space
Partners                    station. For purposes of determining partner utilization rights and
                            common operations obligations, the space station is viewed as two
                            segments, the United States On-orbit Segment (USOS) and the Russian
                            Obital Segment. The USOS includes contributions from the United States,
                            Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil. The Russian Orbital Segment consists
                            entirely of Russian hardware. Figure I.1 illustrates the space station
                            components each partner plans to provide.




                            1
                             Agreement Among the Government of Canada, Governments of Member States of the European Space
                            Agency, the Government of Japan, the Government of the Russian Federation, and the Government of
                            the United States of America Concerning Cooperation on the Civil International Space Station,
                            January 29, 1998.




                            Page 28                                          GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
                                                                  Appendix I
                                                                  International Partner Contributions




Figure I.1: Components of ISS




                                             Science
                                             Power
                                             Platform




          Service
          Module


   Docking
   Compartment                                Zarya (Sunrise)
                                              Control Module
   Universal
   Docking
   Module                                                                                                                                                             P6 Truss
                                                                                                                                     Solar Alpha                      Segment
                                                                 Pressurized
                                                                 Mating Adaptor 1                                                    Rotary Joint                                Port
                                                                                                                                              P5 Truss                           Photovoltaic
         Research                   Research                                   Thermal Control                                                                                   Arrays
         Module           Soyuz                                                                                P3 Truss                       Segment
                                    Module                  Docking and        Panels                          Segment
                                                            Stowage
                                             Soyuz          Module
                                                               Express         S0 Truss Mobile
                                                               Pallet          Segment Servicing
                                                     S3 Truss Brazil                    System
                                                     Segment                                                               P1 Truss
                     S6 Truss
                     Segment                                                                                               Segment
                                                                                                            Canadian Remote
                                  S4 Truss                                                                  Manipulator System
                                  Segment                                             Unity                                             P4 Truss
                                                                                      (Node 1)         Z1 Truss Segment                 Segment
                                                                        S1 Truss
                                             S5 Truss                   Segment                                      Centrifuge Accomodation Module
                                             Segment                                                      Cupola                    JEM Experiment Logistics Module
  Starboard
  Photovoltaic                                                                       Airlock                                                   JEM Remote Manipulator System
  Arrays
                                                                Solar Alpha                         US
                                                                Rotary Joint        Node 3          Lab
                                                                                                                                            JEM Exposed Facility
                                                                                                                                      Japanese Experiment Module
                                                                                                                                      (JEM)
                                                                                     Habitation           Node 2         Italy
                                                           Crew                      Module                                      Pressurized Mating Adaptor 2
                                                           Return
                                                           Vehicle    Pressurized            European Lab-                   Multi-Purpose Logistics Module
                 United States                                        Mating Adaptor 3       Columbus Orbital Facility

                 Canada

                 Japan

                 Europe

                 Russia


                                                                  Source: NASA.




                                                                  Page 29                                                             GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
                            Appendix I
                            International Partner Contributions




Infrastructure and          There are two basic types of contributions to the space station:
Accommodation Elements      infrastructure and accommodations elements. Infrastructure elements and
                            systems enable the use and operation of the station by all partners.
                            Examples include power systems; life support systems; the station robotic
                            arm; guidance, navigation, and control systems; crew habitation modules;
                            airlocks; truss segments; and connecting nodes. Accommodation elements
                            are research facilities that include pressurized laboratories and external
                            payload sites. NASA, Canada, and Russia are contributing infrastructure
                            elements. NASA, Europe, Japan, and Russia are contributing
                            accommodation elements. Table I.1 shows the approximate hardware
                            mass to be provided by each partner.



                            Table I.1: Approximate Hardware Mass Provided by Partners
                            Partner                               Hardware mass (lbs.)             Percent of ISS mass
                            United States                                        592,000                           60
                            Canada                                                10,000                            1
                            Europe                                                27,000                            3
                            Japan                                                 74,000                            7
                            Total USOSa                                          703,000                           71
                            Russia                                               287,000                           29
                            Total ISS                                            990,000                          100
                            a
                            USOS includes hardware from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan.




U.S. Components Are Being   Several components that are considered U.S. contributions to the space
Built by Other Partners.    station are being built by other countries. The first space station element
                            that was launched, the Zarya module, was built by a Russian company
                            under a contract with Boeing, the prime contractor for the U.S. space
                            station hardware. Because funding for the Zarya module originated from
                            NASA, the module is a U.S. contribution to the space station. Other U.S.
                            contributions are being built by international partners as offsets to services
                            NASA is providing to those partners.

                            • NASA will launch the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) on three
                              shuttle flights. One flight will be dedicated to Japan’s pressurized
                              laboratory, and two flights will carry both Japanese and NASA
                              components. In return, Japan is providing to NASA the centrifuge
                              accommodation module and centrifuge rotor, life sciences glovebox,
                              eight payload interface units for integrating NASA experiments on the



                            Page 30                                        GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
Appendix I
International Partner Contributions




    JEM exposed facility, and launch services for a NASA payload on
    Japan’s H-IIA launch vehicle. Candidate payloads include space and
    earth science satellites.
•   NASA will also launch Europe’s laboratory module, the Columbus
    Orbital Facility. One shuttle flight will be required to launch the
    European laboratory. In return, Europe is providing NASA with two
    connecting nodes, cryogenic freezer racks, crew refrigerator/freezer
    racks, sustaining engineering and spares for a laboratory freezer and
    microgravity science glovebox, and hardware and support for NASA’s
    Software Development Integration Laboratory.
•   Europe is also providing NASA with a microgravity sciences glovebox,
    freezers to transport thermally controlled items to the station, a
    hexapod pointing system for NASA’s external payloads, and mission
    database software for use in NASA’s Mission Build Facility. In return,
    Europe will receive a share of utilization rights to NASA research
    facilities prior to the launch of Europe’s laboratory. Europe will also get
    two flight opportunities for astronauts on the space shuttle.
•   In another barter agreement, Europe is providing two cupolas to NASA
    in exchange for shuttle launch services for external European payloads.
    The cupolas are multiwindowed elements that will attach to modules
    and will allow station crew members greater visibility during external
    operations. In return, NASA will launch five external payloads on the
    shuttle. Three of the payloads will be launched during the early
    utilization period defined in the agreement above. Two of the payloads
    will be cooperative payloads between Europe and NASA.
•   In addition to contributing space station components as a member of
    the European Space Agency, Italy is providing hardware to NASA
    through a bilateral agreement between NASA and the Italian Space
    Agency. Italy is providing three Mini Pressurized Logistics Modules that
    will be carried by the shuttle and used to transport supplies and
    experiments to and from the space station. In return, Italy will be
    provided a small percentage of NASA’s pressurized and external
    utilization accommodations and utilization resources, shuttle launch
    and return services for Italian payloads, and data communications
    services. Italy will also be entitled to flight opportunities out of NASA’s
    allocation for three ISS or shuttle crew members.
•   Brazil has agreed to provide the Technology Experiment Facility, Block
    2 of the Window Observational Research Facility, EXPRESS Pallet,
    Unpressurized Logistics Carrier (ULC), Cargo Handling Interface
    Assembly, and a ULC Attach System for mounting the ULC on the ISS
    truss. In return, NASA, from its ISS allocation, will provide Brazil access
    to a small portion of pressurized and external experiment space, shuttle



Page 31                                 GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
                           Appendix I
                           International Partner Contributions




                             launch and return services for Brazilian experiments, and data
                             communication services. To carry out its experiments, NASA will
                             provide a small percentage of its utilization resources to Brazil. Finally,
                             NASA will provide Brazil with the opportunity to fly one astronaut on
                             ISS for one crew rotation period.
                           • NASA and Europe are also negotiating a role for Europe in the
                             development of the X-38 experimental space vehicle. The X-38 is being
                             developed as a predecessor to an operational crew return vehicle for the
                             space station. In this case, NASA and the European Space Agency are
                             cooperating on the development without offsets. Europe is
                             participating with the expectation that it will enhance the potential for
                             future European involvement in the development and production of
                             future operational Crew Return Vehicles (CRV). If Europe provides
                             components for operational CRVs, NASA and Europe may negotiate an
                             offset to Europe’s share of common operations costs.


Allocation of Research     As compensation for providing elements and resources that benefit all the
Facilities and Resources   partners, the partners agreed that those providing infrastructure elements
                           would be entitled to an allocation of research facilities provided by the
                           other partners. For example, as compensation for providing the space
                           station’s robotic arm, Canada is entitled to use 2.3 percent of the user
                           facilities in each of the other partners’ laboratory modules. Based on
                           contributions to the station and allocations of utilization accommodations,
                           the partners also agreed on a division of utilization resources. These
                           resources include power, user-servicing capability, heat rejection, data
                           handling, crew time, and extra-vehicular activity capacity. NASA received
                           an additional allocation of accommodation elements and resources to
                           recognize NASA’s lead role in the management and integration of the space
                           station program. Partners are free to barter or sell their accommodations
                           and resources to other partners or other acceptable entities. For example,
                           during the assembly period, NASA purchased 4,000 hours of Russian crew
                           time and stowage space on Russian modules for $60 million. Table I.2
                           shows the percentage of user accommodations and utilization resources
                           allocated to each partner on the USOS.




                           Page 32                                GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
                              Appendix I
                              International Partner Contributions




                              Table I.2: Allocation of Research Facilities and Resources
                                                                       Percentage of USOS partner allocations
                              USOS research facilities                        U.S.   Canada      Europe    Japan
                              U.S. laboratory, external sites                97.7          2.3
                              European Columbus Orbital Facility              46.7         2.3     51.0
                              Japanese Experiment Module                      46.7         2.3               51.0
                              Utilization resources                           76.6         2.3      8.3      12.8

                              Russia is also providing both infrastructure elements and research
                              facilities. However, to minimize the impact on existing relationships and
                              allocations between the partners, it was agreed that Russia would be
                              treated separately. Russia will retain the use of 100 percent of the user
                              accommodations on its laboratory modules and external payload sites and
                              will not share in utilization accommodations and resources provided by
                              USOS partners.


ISS Transportation Services   Several partners are also planning to provide transportation services to the
                              space station to carry crew, propellant, supplies, and experiments. NASA’s
                              space shuttle can dock to pressurized mating adapters on Node 2 or Node 3
                              of the U.S. segment. Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) will be
                              launched by the Ariane V expendable rocket and most likely will dock to
                              Russia’s Service Module. Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) will be
                              launched on Japan’s H-II rocket and will be berthed to Node 2. Russian
                              Progress and Soyuz vehicles will be launched on Soyuz rockets, and they
                              can dock to several locations on the Russian segment. The U.S.-built CRV
                              will be attached to Node 3.

                              During a typical year of operations after assembly complete, NASA plans to
                              fly five to six shuttles a year to the station; Russia, three to four Progress
                              and two Soyuz; Europe, one ATV; and Japan one to two HTVs. The CRV
                              will be attached to the station for 3 years before being rotated. The shuttle,
                              Soyuz, and CRV are the only vehicles capable of transporting crew and
                              returning to Earth. After unloading their cargo onto the station, the
                              Progress, ATV, and HTV vehicles will be loaded with non-recoverable items
                              and after separating from the station, will be destroyed during reentry into
                              the Earth’s atmosphere. Figure I.2 shows the vehicles that plan to service
                              the space station after assembly is completed.




                Lert          Page 33                                    GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
Appendix I
International Partner Contributions




Figure I.2: ISS Transportation Capabilities

           Vehicle                       Payloada                 Cargo                 Available
                                                                  Types                   Date
                                                             • Crew Rotation
    Shuttle                                                                           • Available
                                                             • Pressurized
                                       16,420 kg             • Unpressurized
                                                             • Gas, Water
    Soyuz-TM                                                 • Crew Rotation
                                                                                      • Available
                                         480 kg              • Pressurized

    Progress-M1                                              • Pressurized
                                        2,230 kg             • Unpressurized          • 1999
                                                             • Propellant
                                                             • Gas, Water
    ATV                                 7,500 kg             • Pressurized
                                                             • Gas, Water             • 2003
                                                             • Propellant
    HTV                                                      • Pressurized
                                                             • Water                   • 2002
                                        6,000 kg
                                                             • Unpressurized
    CRV                                                      • Crew Return             • 2003
                                         TBD kg
a
Payload capability to an altitude of 407 kilometers at an orbital inclination of 51.6 degrees.
Source: The Boeing Company.




Page 34                                              GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
Appendix II

Description of Operation Costs Budget
Elements                                                                                                     AppenIx
                                                                                                                   di




                             The elements that comprise the operations costs funded in the space
                             station budget are described briefly below.


Operations Planning and      Operations planning includes the costs related to defining the resources,
Cargo Integration            allocations, research objectives, priorities, and manifests for each mission.
                             It includes cargo planning and analysis, cargo engineering, and external
                             program integration. Cargo integration covers the costs associated with
                             identifying the items to be transported and returned on each mission and
                             their location on the shuttle or other vehicle.


Sustaining Engineering       Sustaining engineering provides the basic engineering capability needed to
                             keep the station operating. This includes resolving anomalies and
                             developing enhancements. Sustaining engineering includes the following
                             functions: station performance, trend, and anomaly analysis; maintenance
                             of station analytical models; development of hardware and software
                             modifications; and configuration management of flight hardware and
                             software.


Logistics and Maintenance    The purpose of logistics and maintenance is to keep all space station
                             systems in working order, maintain all necessary life support functions,
                             provide continuous station operations, support crew activities, and provide
                             the necessary resources for conducting scientific experiments. This
                             involves preventive maintenance, the planned replacement of life-limited
                             hardware, and replacement of failed units.


Station Operations Support   Station operations support funds the development and implementation
                             activities necessary to train and certify flight controllers, crew members,
                             and training instructors for the station. Among other things, it also funds
                             planning and analysis tools for pre-mission and real-time operations
                             support, trajectory and flight design, timelines, resource utilization,
                             onboard systems, and performance analysis.


Launch Site Processing       The Launch Site Processing Office is responsible for the processing and
                             integration of space station flight hardware at Kennedy Space Center. It is
                             also responsible for the design, development, operations, and maintenance
                             of space station launch site facilities and ground support equipment.



                             Page 35                                GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
                        Appendix II
                        Description of Operation Costs Budget
                        Elements




Institutional Support   The institutional support budget element includes the cost for facilities that
                        are used by multiple research and development programs. The
                        institutional charges help to fund the basic operating cost of such facilities.


Utilization Support     The utilization budget element includes the cost of customizing hardware
                        to accommodate payloads for scientific research and the cost of payload
                        integration and operations. Payload integration and operations includes the
                        Payload Data Library (a database system used to collect payload user
                        requirements), Payload Planning System (a software system used to create
                        ground and on-board planning products), Payload Operations and
                        Integration Center (the facility from which the mission is executed), and
                        Payload Operations and Integration Function (engineers who staff the
                        Payload Operations and Integration Center).


Research Projects       This budget element includes the costs of facilities for research that NASA
                        expects to perform on the space station. The core of the space station
                        research program will be its eight major research facilities: Gravitational
                        Biology Facility, Centrifuge Facility, Human Research Facility, Materials
                        Science Facility, Biotechnology Facility, Fluids and Combustion Facility,
                        Window Observational Research Facility, and Low Temperature
                        Microgravity Physics Facility.


Crew Return Vehicle     CRV operations costs are incurred for items such as logistics and
Operations              maintenance planning, procuring spares, training, ground support, and
                        sustaining engineering. This estimate does not include the additional costs
                        that would be incurred if the CRV had to be used in an emergency.


Reserves                Reserves reflect the amount of uncommitted funds and provide program
                        managers with the ability to cover unanticipated contingencies.




                        Page 36                                 GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
Appendix III

Comments From the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration                                            AppeInIx
                                                                           di




               Page 37      GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
Appendix IV

GAO Staff Acknowledgments                                                                         AppenV
                                                                                                       Ix
                                                                                                        di




Acknowledgments      Vijay Barnabas, Steven Boyles, Richard Eiserman, and Jerry Herley also
                     made key contributions to this report.




(707355)      Lert   Page 38                               GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operation
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