June 17, 1993
In March, the White House asked NASA to redesign the Space Station Freedom program to reduce significantly the costs of the program while achieving many of the current goals for long duration scientific research. This decision came out of concerns over both the rising costs of the Space Station program and the program's management problems.
To accomplish this, a space station redesign process was developed which included a NASA redesign team, as well as an independent panel of experts chaired by Dr. Charles Vest, the President of MIT. Both the redesign team and the independent panel included representatives of our international partners in the Space Station program -- the European Space Agency, Canada, and Japan.
NASA's redesign team produced three options as alternatives to the current Space Station Freedom. Two of these options (A, B) were derivations of the current Freedom design, and one (C) was an entirely new design. NASA also conducted an independent assessment of the costs of the current Space Station Freedom program.
On June 10, the Vest Panel forwarded its recommendations to the White House. The Vice President and Dr. John Gibbons, the President's Science and Technology Advisor, were formally briefed on the report by Dr. Vest on June 11. Among its findings, the Vest Panel concluded that:
-- The redesign options were technically viable and could offer significant cost savings over the current Space Station Freedom design.
-- The Space Station program could accommodate and would benefit from increased international participation, including the possible participation of Russia in the program.
-- Successfully completing the Space Station program at reduced cost would require significant management changes at NASA in order to decrease excess personnel, reduce the bureaucracy, and increase efficiency. The majority of the cost savings would depend upon this management reform.
-- Either a scaled down, technically simplified version of the Space Station Freedom program or the new design alternative identified by NASA would be recommended for proceeding with the Space Station program.
After consideration of the Vest Panel's report, the President today announced his decision to support the development of a scaled down, modular version of Space Station Freedom, consistent with the Panel's recommendations. NASA will be instructed to work with our international partners during the next 90 days to further optimize this design.
In addition, the President announced that he will seek increased international participation in the space station program, and will implement major management changes at NASA in order to achieve cost savings and increased efficiencies.
Based on this decision, the White House will provide Congress with a revised FY94 budget request for NASA that includes approximately $1.85 billion for space station development costs, and approximately $250 million for development of science payloads and other costs associated with the Space Station. The total FY94 request for the Space Station will be $2.1 billion.
The redesign will save $ 8 - 9 billion dollars through the year 2000, and approximately $ 18 billion through the life of the project.
Dr. Gibbons will provide a letter of instruction to NASA within the next several days to facilitate the implementation of this decision.
The United States will work closely with its international partners on the Space Program to implement all aspects of this decision.