Lagrange 5

waypoint to the past, present, and future of space

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Next shuttle crew will have rescue backup

The Houston Chronicle and AP are reporting that NASA is planning to have space shuttle Atlantis available for a hastened launch preparation in case the Discovery crew are stranded in orbit.

Space shuttle Discovery is scheduled for a launch in May.

A rescue mission would be unprecedented in space history. There has never been an in-flight rescue of astronauts in earth orbit.

The U.S. space program made serious plans for a rescue capability at least as far back as the Apollo program.

The Skylab program had a rescue capability in place, with at least one crew and spacecraft available, and the plan was almost implemented in August 1973. When NASA feared the Skylab 3 crew was in danger of being stranded in orbit because of an oxidizer leak, a rescue mission was days away from the launch pad. A rescue launch was scrubbed when NASA judged that the leaks did not pose an immediate threat to the Skylab crew.


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