Mon, Sep 12, 2011
Council Says ISS Staffing, Contingency Plans Will Require More
The National Research Council, which was chartered by Congress
but is considered a private institution, is out with a report which
says the United States is at risk because we have too few
astronauts. The NRC is warning that the number of astronauts
currently employed by NASA, 61, is too low. The number was almost
150 as recently as 2000.
Fox News reports the NRC will make the case for a NASA astronaut
corps even for support of commercial space programs.
Joe Rothenberg, one of the co-chairs for the report, notes,
"With the retirement of the shuttle program and the uncertainty
during the transition to a fully operational ISS, it's even more
important that the talent level, diversity, and capabilities of the
astronaut office be sustained. Making sure NASA maintains adequate
training facilities is also essential to ensure a robust astronaut
Frederick Gregory, a former commander of three shuttle missions
who also served as NASA's deputy administrator, adds, "Viewed as a
supply chain, astronaut selection and training is very sensitive to
critical shortfalls; astronauts who are trained for specific roles
and missions can't be easily interchanged."
The full report will be published later this year, and can be
ordered in paperback now for about $25. A four-page summary is
available for download at the link below.
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