A proposed bare-bones design for NASA's planned space station falls far short of what is needed and would be a waste of money, a prestigious panel said Friday.
"In the judgment of the board, Space Station Freedom, at the present stage of design, does not meet the basic research requirements of the two principal scientific disciplines for which it is intended," said the National Research Council's Space Studies Board.The report, made public after an account in Friday's Washington Post, will complicate NASA's efforts to convince Congress to continue providing money for the space station.
The station, on the drawing boards since 1984, has been drastically scaled back to meet a congressional order to reduce the cost by $6 billion through 1996. A recent top-level study, widely praised, concluded that research to be done on the station should concentrate on life sciences and microgravity.
The shrunken space station plan, to be presented to Congress early next month, would reduce the station both in size and capabilities. It would be staffed by four astronauts instead of eight, as previously planned.
"Neither the quantity or the quality of research that can be conducted on the proposed station merits the projected investment," the Space Studies Board said.