A lack of suitable government or commercial rocket platforms in the United States has prompted a NASA advisory committee to recommend reducing America’s crew commitments to the International Space Station.
In July of 2011, NASA retired the last of its space shuttles and its only domestic means of putting astronauts into orbit. Since then, NASA has relied on Russia’s Soyuz missions to ferry Americans to and from the International Space Station with plans in the works for both NASA’s own Space Launch System (SLS) and for commercial space agencies like SpaceX to eventually take on the responsibility.
However, perpetual delays in the SLS program and foreseeable delays in the commercial sector are now prompting some to call for plans to reduce the American crew commitments to the space station to compensate for America’s lack of human-ready platforms. During a recent meeting Thomas Stafford, chairman of the ISS Advisory Committee, said,
For years, we have observed delays after delays in the development, flight test and qualification milestones in commercial crew, and therefore we believe the current schedule is optimistic,”