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  Space Cover 381: Istres, France TAL site

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 381: Istres, France TAL site
Antoni RIGO
Member

Posts: 73
From: Palma de Mallorca, Is. Baleares - SPAIN
Registered: Aug 2013

posted 08-27-2016 02:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Antoni RIGO   Click Here to Email Antoni RIGO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 381 (August 27, 2016)

Space Cover 381: Istres, France – Transoceanic Abort Landing site

After the Feb. 1, 2003 Columbia disaster a full examination of the space shuttle program was carried out.

A special committee called Columbia Accident Investigation Board offered to NASA 29 total recommendations to improve the future manned shuttle flights including a review of materials used and a redefinition of technical and procedures developed in all phases of the space mission: pre-flight, launching, in-flight, landing and post-flight.

STS-114 Discovery launched July 26, 2005 was the "Return to Flight" mission and was the first one to see the new Transoceanic Abort Landing site (TAL) of Istres, in the south of France.

Air Force Base 125 of Istres as TAL was the result of an agreement signed in June 8, 2005 in Washington between NASA Administration Michael Griffin and France ambassador for USA Jean-David Levitte.

Istres became operative soon in July 2005 and would be one of the three majors TAL in the rest of STS program (together to Zaragoza and Moron, both in Spain). It was selected by NASA because the Istres landing runway is +5.000 meters long, the longest military runway in Europe and, primarily, because NASA wanted to be sure to have under control any unexpected situation in any phase of space mission.

Istres, as the rest of TAL scheduled along all STS missions was, fortunately never activated, and was operative from STS-114 until STS-135, the last shuttle mission.

The cover above pictured, signed by Colonel Lenne as Air Base commandant, and Lieutenant Durot, as ESIS (Escadron de Sécurité Incendie et de Sauvetage or Security Squadron Fire and Rescue) marks the launch date for STS-120 Discovery which delivered to ISS the space module Harmony (built in Turin, Italy by Thales Alenia Space Italy) and was accompanied to space by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli as mission specialist.

It is an illustrative example of an USA space cover with European participation (the French TAL and the Italian astronaut) which should encourage to European astrophilatelists to find Europe references inside of an USA space program.

Bob M
Member

Posts: 1630
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 08-31-2016 09:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting cover from Istres, France, for one of the TAL sites used in the Space Shuttle Program.

Going back to SCOTW #183 in October 14, 2012, we have now shown covers from four TAL sites: Moron Air Base, Spain; Rota, Spain; Banjul International Airport, The Gambia; and now Istres, France.

These were very important emergency landing sites for a disabled shuttle orbiter unable to achieve orbit immediately after launch. Of course, and luckily, none ever had to be used, but many expected that a SSME would eventually be lost early in the flight and result in a TAL site being used. The closest to that happening was on STS-51F, when a SSME was shut down during the ascent, but late enough where a safe orbit was reached.

Antoni RIGO
Member

Posts: 73
From: Palma de Mallorca, Is. Baleares - SPAIN
Registered: Aug 2013

posted 08-31-2016 01:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Antoni RIGO   Click Here to Email Antoni RIGO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Bob for this little summary about TAL sites. TAL site covers always was a very interesting topic for me.

As imagination flies, what could have been and was not is so exciting that the result is that only space fans know its existence. And all this is not written in the history books.

Others TAL sites shown here to increase SCOTW images are:

Top cover marks the TAL site in Yoff International Airport in Dakkar, Senegal and bottom cover the Cologne Airport in Germany. Both refers to STS-9 mission, the first launching of European Space Laboratory —  Spacelab.

All times are CT (US)

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