Astronaut Utilization

NSIAD-93-114R: Published: Jan 12, 1993. Publicly Released: Jan 27, 1993.

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GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) selection, utilization, and training of astronauts, focusing on: (1) the size and composition of the astronaut corps; (2) the average length of service in the corps; (3) the frequency for flight for astronauts; (4) trends in astronauts' waiting times to first and subsequent flights; and (5) NASA response to astronauts' concerns about training. GAO noted that: (1) there are no written policies or procedures to determine the size of the corps; (2) the average length of service for current astronauts who joined the corps since 1978 is 10.2 years; (3) lower than planned flight rates have decreased the need for pilots; (4) the changing nature of missions from simple satellite deployments to a variety of space-based activities has increased the need for mission specialists; (5) flight opportunities have been relatively well distributed among the astronauts and astronaut utilization has increased dramatically in recent years; and (6) NASA increased the number of training instructors and upgraded its shuttle mission training facility in response to inspector general report recommendations.

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