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An inspector general report released today has outlined some issues that NASA needs to address in order to keep ISS operational through 2024.
In this audit, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that while NASA has identified no major obstacles to extending ISS operations to 2024, it must address several areas of risk to ensure continued safe operations. Specifically, the ISS faces a risk of insufficient power generation due in part to faster-than-expected degradation of its solar arrays. Second, although most replacement parts have proven more reliable than expected, sudden failures of key hardware have occurred requiring unplanned space walks for repair or replacement. Third, with the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet NASA has a limited capacity to transport several large replacement parts to the Station should they be needed. While the ISS Program is actively working to mitigate these risks, anticipating the correct amount of replacement parts and transporting them to the ISS present major challenges to extending Station operations 10 or more years beyond its original expected service life.
The report also noted concerns about the budget and the lack of commitment from NASA’s international partners.