NASA has worst-case remedy for launch

June 21, 2005

The re-launch of space shuttle Discovery is less than six weeks away and the U.S. space agency is readying itself for every scenario.
The launch will be the first time since Columbia disintegrated during re-entry in 2003.

As a precaution, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has drawn up every worse-case scenario so it can use daring maneuvers to help bring astronauts home on a damaged vehicle, the USA Today reported.

The most dramatic scenarios would require NASA to ignore long-standing flight rules, such as guidelines on when to start re-entry. The new procedures could be used if the shuttle's heat shield is damaged as Columbia's did, the report said.

Shuttle managers decided to develop such plans after the loss of Columbia, resulting in the deaths of seven crewmembers.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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