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Science could suffer on ISS

Budget cuts and design decisions may limit space station's usefulness, report concludes.

Harvey Black(hblack@chorus.net)

Significant reductions in crew size and equipment threaten to severely limit the quantity and quality of science that can be done on the International Space Station (ISS), according to a report issued Wednesday by the National Research Council of the US National Academies of Science.

"Although the stated NASA goal of the ISS program is to create a world-class laboratory, it is the opinion of the task group that the actions taken with regard to crew time, equipment, facilities, and logistics make this unlikely," concluded the report by a task force of the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council (NRC).

Among the problems cited by the report is a NASA decision to reduce crew size aboard the orbiting platform to only three. "That means that only 20 hours per week are available for scientific work, without taking into account the impact that unplanned activities may have," the report...

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