Saturday, May 24, 2003

NASA Says Shuttle Rescue Effort Risky but Possible

NASA told the panel that a rescue attempt would have been "technically possible, but very, very risky," said Tyrone Woodyard, spokesman for the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

The agency laid out two possible rescue plans that could have been attempted had it known the extent of the damage to the Columbia's wing, the suspected cause of the Feb. 1 accident that killed seven astronauts, Woodyard said.

NASA could have sent up Columbia's sister shuttle, the Atlantis, and maneuvered into position to try to transfer the astronauts from Columbia.

Columbia's crew would have had to stretch its resources to stay in orbit for as long as 30 days while NASA speeded up preparations for the launch of Atlantis, which was scheduled to lift off for another mission on March 1.

Or the agency could have sent crew members outside the orbiter with instructions for patching the ship's damaged wing using whatever materials they could find on board, Woodyard said.

NASA came up with the rescue scenarios in response to a request from the head of the accident investigation board, retired Adm. Harold Gehman, Woodyard said.

Yahoo News

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