Bush science advisor says station needs major reforms
BY JEFF FOUST
SPACEFLIGHT NOW

Posted: January 9, 2002

The International Space Station program could be in serious jeopardy if it cannot correct its management problems in the near future, President George W. Bush's science advisor said Tuesday.

John Marburger, the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, told reporters that while the Bush Administration continues to support the space station, reforming its management is a major priority.

"The space station is a troubled project but it is an important one," Marburger said. "The space station has a major management problem and it is very difficult to understand what needs to be done... No one knows how much it will cost."

In November an independent review panel led by former Lockheed Martin executive Thomas Young recommended that NASA hold off on expanding the station beyond the "core complete" phase for at least two years until the problems with the station program can be understood and corrected. New NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe has indicated that he supports this recommendation.

This decision has been controversial among the station's international partners, including Canada, Europe, Japan, and Russia, because the core complete version of the station features neither a habitation module nor a crew return vehicle. Without those additions the station can only support three-person crews, severely limiting the amount of science that can be performed on the station, as well as reducing opportunities for station visits by astronauts from nations other than the US and Russia.

European officials have gone so far as to ask US Secretary of State Colin Powell to intervene, noting that the agreement among the international partners has the power of a treaty that the US would be violating if it did not provide the hab module and crew return vehicle. Marburger said he believed that the concerns of the international partners can be worked out.

Saying the ISS program "needs help," Marburger noted that it is still important to get the station up and running. "It would be a scandal if the station was not exploited," he said.

However, Marburger hinted that the Bush Administration might take more extreme measures with the station program if its management and cost problems cannot be resolved. "If we can't get our arms around the management of the space station, there are a lot worse things that could happen." This was interpreted to mean anything up to and including cancellation of the project, in the worst possible case.

Marburger spoke with reporters after addressing a plenary session of a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, DC. In his speech, one of his first public addresses on the topics of astronomy and space sciences since becoming director in the fall, he said that astronomers who receive federal funding will have to make more of an effort to explain why their often esoteric research is important.

"This administration values discovery science and will continue to support it," he said. However, he said that scientists working on basic research, without any immediate practical application, should realize that the government and taxpayers "want to know what they're getting out of an investment."

Marburger, a former director of the Brookhaven National Laboratory, drew a parallel between research in astronomy and that in particular physics. In both cases, he said, have little relevance to the public. However, astronomy has the advantage in that it has wide public appeal compared to particle physics and has traditionally received considerable support from the private sector, factors that may allow the field to handle changes in federal funding better than particle physics, which struggled in the 1990s.

While not discussing funding levels, Marburger suggested that the Bush Administration's focus was not on basic research in fields like astronomy, but on the "frontier of complexity" in areas like biotechnology and information technology. Research in these areas could yield practical applications, and do so for less money that fields like astronomy, which has grown increasing reliant on large, expensive telescopes and spacecraft for what Marburger called "diminishing returns."

These constrains will force the astronomy community to come up with ways of evaluating the success of various research projects, although how that will be done is an open question. "You have to have some way of selecting what to do with a specific amount of money," Marburger said.

Apollo 16
NEW! The latest in Apogee Book's acclaimed NASA Mission Reports series features the Apollo 16 expedition to the lunar highland area of Descartes. Includes CD-ROM.
 U.S. STORE
 U.K. & WORLDWIDE STORE

Apollo 11 special patch
Special collectors' patch marking the 35th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing is now available.
 Choose your store:
U.S. - U.K. - E.U. - Worldwide

Inside Apollo mission control
An insider's view of how Apollo flight controllers operated and just what they faced when events were crucial.
 Choose your store:
U.S.

The ultimate Apollo 11 DVD
This exceptional chronicle of the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission features new digital transfers of film and television coverage unmatched by any other.
 Choose your store:
U.S. - U.K. - E.U. - Worldwide

Next ISS crew
Own a little piece of history with this official patch for the International Space Station's Expedition 11 crew. We'll ship yours today!
 Choose your store:
U.S.

Columbia Report
The official accident investigation report into the loss of the space shuttle Columbia and its crew of seven. Includes CD-ROM.
 Choose your store:
U.S.

John Glenn Mission Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Final Shuttle Mission Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Celebrate the shuttle program

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Anniversary Shuttle Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Mercury anniversary

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!


Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Fallen Heroes Patch Collection
The official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Spaceflight Now Plus
The web's best space video service! Get additional video, audio, image and virtual reality content for a low-cost monthly or annual subscription fee. Subscriptions start at $5.95/£3.50. Click here to see what's currently available.
 SUBSCRIBE (U.S. Dollars)
 SUBSCRIBE (U.K. Pounds)

Hubble Posters
Stunning posters featuring images from the Hubble Space Telescope and world-renowned astrophotographer David Malin are now available from the Astronomy Now Store.
 U.S. STORE
 U.K. & WORLDWIDE STORE

INDEX | PLUS | NEWS ARCHIVE | LAUNCH SCHEDULE
ASTRONOMY NOW | STORE

ADVERTISE

© 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.