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Future of Human Spaceflight Tops NASA IG's List of Management and Performance Challenges

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 16-Nov-2012
Updated: 16-Nov-2012 06:53 PM

The future of the nation's human spaceflight program is at the top of the NASA Inspector General's list of management and performance challenges facing the agency.

In its 2012 Report on NASA's Top Management and Performance Challenges, the IG's office identified five areas of concern for the agency overall:

  • The Future of U.S. Human Space Flight
  • Project Management
  • Infrastructure and Facilities Management
  • Acquisition and Contract Management
  • Information Technology Security and Governance

In a video summary of the report, Deputy Inspector General Gail Robinson notes that several of these are long-standing problems and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.   A focus of the report, however, is the "rather bleak" and uncertain budgetary future facing NASA that will exacerbate these challenges, though the bottom line is that the IG believes NASA can "make significant strides" in addressing them "with focused and sustained efforts."

The report does not break new ground, instead summarizing what the IG office and various advisory groups already have identified as concerns.  For example, the human spaceflight section discusses the difficulties of finding time for International Space Station crews to perform scientific research -- a primary rationale for building the facility in the first place; reduced funding for the commercial crew program compared to what the President requested, pushing out to 2017 when such services might be available; and budget constraints on the Space Launch System and Orion programs, that, for example, mean developing Orion incrementally instead of working on all its systems concurrently.

The report is required by the Reports Consolidation Act of 2000 for inclusion in NASA's FY2012 Performance and Accountability Report.


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