NASA IG Slams NASA Management of Project to Monitor Space Radiation Exposure

NASA IG Slams NASA Management of Project to Monitor Space Radiation Exposure

NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) sharply criticized NASA’s management of a project to replace space radiation monitoring equipment on the International Space Station (ISS).

In a report released today, the OIG asserted that “NASA has poorly managed the development of replacement radiation monitoring instruments” needed aboard the ISS to monitor the level of space radiation to which ISS crewmembers are exposed. Such instruments were placed on the ISS between 2000 and 2002, but need to be replaced because of age or malfunctions. NASA initiated a project to do so in 2008, but because of its poor management, the replacements “are costing more than expected, are behind schedule, and will not include all planned elements.”

The OIG also discovered that NASA “has never monitored astronaut exposure to neutrons” as required by the ISS Medical Operations Requirements Document (MORD).

One corrective action recommended by the OIG was that the ISS Program Manager ensure that NASA’s project management policy is followed and that projects are not implemented “until managers demonstrate projects are properly anchored by firm requirements, realistic cost and schedule estimates, sufficient funding, and successful completion of a Preliminary Design Review.” However, the report states that the Assistant Associate Administrator for ISS disagreed that a PDR is needed before implementation or that the project was poorly managed. He did agree, however, to review how the cost and schedule estimates and assumptions about technology readiness were developed to see what improvements can be made. The OIG report lays out its case for concluding that a PDR is necessary and the project was poorly managed and states that it does “not understand NASA’s rationale for insisting otherwise.”

The OIG also recommended that the Director of Space Life Sciences at Johnson Space Center determine whether the MORD requires updating with regard to monitoring the spectra of charged particles. The ISS Assistant Associate Administrator concurred with that recommendation.

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