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NASA IG recommends metric reforms
Posted: Fri, Mar 9, 2001, 8:25 PM ET (0125 GMT)
NASA A report released this week by NASA's Office of Inspector General (IG)recommends that the agency should reform how it uses the metric system in various projects. The report, released Wednesday but dated February 20, suggests that NASA should be doing more to promote the use of the metric system, noting that most of NASA's programs either, like ISS, use a hybrid of metric and English units or, as is the case with the shuttle, use English units exclusively. The report recommended that NASA establish the metric system as the preferred unit of measurement but establish specific guidelines by which projects can obtain a waiver to use English units. The report suggested that projects using a hybrid of the two systems make sure conversions between the systems are made consistently and accurately. It also recommended NASA use metric units as the primary system for communicating with the public. In a response, agency officials agreed with most of the conclusions, but said they will continue to use English units in public communications for those projects that use English units exclusively. The review was conducted by the IG after the September 1999 loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft, which failed to enter orbit around Mars and likely crashed into the planet after a navigation error caused by confusion between metric and English units went undetected during the cruise phase of the flight.
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