GAO Reports on NASA's Methods for Determining If ISS Can Last Till 2020

GAO Reports on NASA's Methods for Determining If ISS Can Last Till 2020

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) formally submitted a presentation to Congress today in which it generally agreed with the methods NASA is using to determine if the International Space Station (ISS) can last until 2020, including the need for spares.

With regard to the spares needed to continue operations, GAO compared NASA’s plans with those of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for supporting Antarctic operations and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administraiton’s (NOAA’s) operations of the Aquarius Undersea Laboratory.

“NASA’s assessment of the essential spares necessary … appears to be supported by sufficient, accurate and relevant underlying data,” GAO said. It added, however, that NASA’s estimates are “senstive” to assumptions about the reliability of Orbital Replacement Units (ORUs).

As for NASA’s assessments of the long term viability of ISS primary structures — the modules and trusses to which solar panels are attached — GAO found that those assessments are ongoing and all the results are not yet available. It noted that NASA is not assessing the viability of modules provided by international partners, other than those that are owned by NASA. For example, Russia built the Zarya (FGB) module, but NASA paid for it, thus it is owned by NASA even though it was provided by a partner.

The report was required by the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.

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