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  Space shuttle rescue prior to STS-107 (pre-RCO)

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Author Topic:   Space shuttle rescue prior to STS-107 (pre-RCO)
Max Q
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Posts: 381
From: Whyalla South Australia
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 07-16-2011 12:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Max Q   Click Here to Email Max Q     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have been wondering what, if any, rescue options there have been for shuttle crews if for some reason the orbiter was unable to safely return to earth.

Also assuming the crew was able to be rescued what would NASA have done with the orbiter prior to the modifications that allowed for remote or pilot-less landing?

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 07-16-2011 07:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There existed the personal rescue spheres. In theory, a shuttle with at least two astronauts would lift off, rendezvous with the disabled shuttle, and one of the crew would EVA to the disabled shuttle and haul astronauts one by one in one of the spheres to the good shuttle. Not sure how long they continued rescue sphere training.

Max Q
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Posts: 381
From: Whyalla South Australia
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 07-17-2011 05:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Max Q   Click Here to Email Max Q     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Hart brings about another question

How long would it have taken NASA to get the second orbiter on station for this? Unless I'm mistaken prior to STS-114 they didn't have a Launch on Need shuttle prepared.

brianjbradley
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Posts: 78
From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Dec 2010

posted 07-17-2011 11:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for brianjbradley   Click Here to Email brianjbradley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Probably not long. -114 was scheduled to launch March 1 and processing to launch Discovery was well under way at the time -107 flew. By the time -107 flew, it might have already been in the VAB (I think) to head out to the pad.

tegwilym
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Posts: 2284
From: Renton, WA USA
Registered: Jan 2000

posted 07-17-2011 01:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder if they would have done the "Apollo 13 - here's what we got, let's fix it" thing. Like this photo.

But of course they would have had to look and see if there was a hole in the first place.

OV-105
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From: Ridgecrest, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2000

posted 07-17-2011 02:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What could have happened was in the CAIB Report. I want to think that Atlantis had already been mated to the stack for STS-114 when Columbia launched on 107. They would have had to do a big power down even with the EDO kit that was on Columbia for 107.

ea757grrl
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Posts: 555
From: South Carolina
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 07-17-2011 02:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is based on a quick look in "Comm Check" by Harwood and Cabbage, and I believe the CAIB report goes into detail on rescue scenarios. Anyway, based on this quick look, here's my understanding:

The consumables aboard Columbia could have lasted until Feb. 15 had they minimized power usage and kept activity to a minimum; the limiting factor was lithium hydroxide. A NASA team concluded that had the damage to Columbia been confirmed early in the mission, the processing of Atlantis could have been accelerated with the earliest launch date being Feb. 10.

Had it worked out and had Columbia's crew been rescued, the last two astronauts out of Columbia would have configured her for de-orbit controlled from Houston. The consensus was that Columbia herself probably could not have been recovered, so she would likely have been ditched over the ocean (presumably the Pacific).

OV-105
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From: Ridgecrest, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2000

posted 07-17-2011 11:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This brings up an question, who would have flown Atlantis on the rescue flight? STS-114 was training about a month from launch. Collins had done CDRed at docking flight only been the PLT on her two Mir flights. STS-113 had been home for about 2 months by that time. So which crew would get the flight? We can go with what we have on the books now.

Paul78zephyr
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From: Hudson, MA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 07-18-2011 08:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If Columbia's crew had been rescued by Atlantis how long could an abandoned and powered down Columbia have remained in orbit until a mission to repair her wing could have been sent up? Could such a mission have been able to re-power her up and fly her home?

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 07-18-2011 09:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by OV-105:
This brings up an question, who would have flown Atlantis on the rescue flight?
Why not Wetherbee as CDR and Collins as PLT? Both were on STS-63, the near-Mir flight, and Wetherbee on STS-113 had docked with ISS and done a crew exchange.

After that, I would have called on Jerry Ross as MS for his EVA experience, most recently on 110. He also flew on the seat behind and between the CDR and PLT on three of his flights.

OV-105
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From: Ridgecrest, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2000

posted 07-19-2011 01:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can't see Collins or any CDR going back over to the right seat on a short notice. They have been out of the loop on that side for a long time. I think you would want someone fresh off a flight or who is training for a flight that is almost ready to fly. I would bet anyone in the Astronaut Office would fly the flight if asked and not think twice about it.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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Posts: 2123
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 07-19-2011 04:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No offense to Ferguson, Oefelein or Poindexter, but I can't see them as PLT for a hypothetical 107 rescue (both flew for the first time on 115, 116, and 122 - Poindexter was scheduled for 120 - respectively.) Maybe Polansky as PLT, his position on the original 117 before he got moved up to CDR on 116, or Kelly, the original 119 PLT? And keep Collins and her 114 crew as the Return to Flight?

brianjbradley
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Posts: 78
From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Dec 2010

posted 07-19-2011 11:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for brianjbradley   Click Here to Email brianjbradley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If I recall correctly, when they posted rescue crews before -107, the crews were manned by the flight deck crew from the flight preceding the mission in trouble. So if the ground went into rescue mode for -107, I think the rescue crew would have been Wetherbee, Lockhart, Lopez-Alegria and Herrington (who funny enough - was almost assigned to -107). They would be pretty well trained for rescue with plenty of rendezvous, arm and EVA experience.

Max Q
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Posts: 381
From: Whyalla South Australia
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 07-20-2011 12:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Max Q   Click Here to Email Max Q     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Paul78zephyr:
Could such a mission have been able to re-power her up and fly her home?
I wonder how secure such an on station repair would be and how feasible/expensive it would have been to rig the Orbiter for full remote landing. Considering how expensive an orbiter is, salvage would have to be thought about.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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Posts: 2123
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 07-20-2011 11:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dennis Jenkins' book (at least, one of them) mentions that Rockwell had studied developing an automated orbiter kit (otherwise known as A-OK) with Columbia as the most likely orbiter to get the kit if it was authorized to proceed.

Mr Meek
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Posts: 348
From: Chattanooga, TN
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 07-21-2011 07:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr Meek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hart Sastrowardoyo:
Not sure how long they continued rescue sphere training.

According to a couple of informal conversations with astronauts that I've had the pleasure of speaking with, the rescue spheres were still used as late as 1999/2000. One astro referred to their use as part of the psych evaluation. Whether or not they were still considered as an valid potential rescue option was unclear, but the hardware itself was still in use during the selection of "The Bugs".

Max Q
Member

Posts: 381
From: Whyalla South Australia
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 07-21-2011 07:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Max Q   Click Here to Email Max Q     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Are there any pictures or diagrams of these spheres? I can't imagine what they are.

ilbasso
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Posts: 1494
From: Greensboro, NC USA
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 07-21-2011 07:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You can do a web search on "Personal Rescue Enclosure" and see some articles about them. They look like the ultimate claustrophobic nightmare to me! I suppose it's better than dying, but not by much.

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