Space Shuttle:

NASA's Plans for Repairing or Replacing a Damaged or Destroyed Orbiter

NSIAD-94-197: Published: Jul 21, 1994. Publicly Released: Aug 23, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA): (1) contingency plans should an accident occur that destroys or seriously damages a space shuttle orbiter; (2) plans for maintaining critical skills in the shuttle work force; and (3) facilities that will maintain the shuttle orbiters over their expected lifetime.

GAO found that: (1) NASA has not established contingency plans to replace an orbiter in the event of a catastrophic accident or to repair an orbiter seriously damaged in an accident; (2) NASA is terminating its structural spares program and parts that are 85 percent or more complete will be finished and placed in storage; (3) although NASA can obtain the capability to produce replacement components, production would take longer than if spare components and manufacturing skills were readily available; (4) although terminating the structural spares program will eliminate critical manufacturing skills, NASA does not believe it will significantly increase the risk to the shuttle program because those skills could be reacquired if another orbiter is needed; and (5) NASA needs to decide on the use of two production facilities after its modification program is completed, since excess capacity will exist.

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