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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) progress in its: (1) incorporation of the current estimate of the debris environment into space station requirements; (2) effort to keep the debris environment model current; and (3) overall strategy to protect the station from space debris of various sizes.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Aeronautics and Space Administration 1. In order to provide the best protection possible for the Space Station Freedom and its crew, the Administrator, NASA, should delay the completion of critical design review until the 1991 model of the debris environment is fully implemented.
Closed - Implemented
NASA informed Congress on August 28, 1992 that the 1991 model was fully implemented.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration 2. In order to provide the best protection possible for the Space Station Freedom and its crew, the Administrator, NASA, should delay the completion of critical design review until any changes to NASA debris safety criteria are thoroughly assessed.
Closed - Implemented
NASA agreed that any changes to safety criteria would be assessed by independent review teams.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration 3. In order to provide the best protection possible for the Space Station Freedom and its crew, the Administrator, NASA, should delay the completion of critical design review until NASA develops a comprehensive strategy for dealing with debris, including: (1) shielding and augmentation plans for small debris, including an assessment of the costs and operational impact of proposed augmentation designs; and (2) protection concepts for medium and large debris.
Closed - Not Implemented
NASA plans to independently assess, four months before critical design reviews, NASA plans to independently assess the overall strategy for dealing with debris. NSAS is completely downscoping the space station.

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