Astronaut considers the Shuttle a Deathtrap... Jan 18, 2006 8:00:17 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jan 18, 2006 8:00:17 GMT -6
Astronaut questions shuttle safety in book - "It's the most dangerous manned spacecraft ever flown"
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Astronaut Mike Mullane has flown on the shuttle three times and would go again in a heartbeat, but in a new memoir he called this ship the most dangerous spacecraft humans have ever ridden.
The shuttle never lived up to its billing as a reliable space workhorse, and the fleet has been grounded since the Columbia crash, except for one shakedown flight to the International Space Station last summer.
NASA's bureaucracy helped make it that way, he said, by discouraging questions about safety and other matters. Astronauts deserve some share of responsibility too, Mullane said in a Reuters interview about his book "Riding Rockets," published this month
"It's the most dangerous manned spacecraft ever flown, by anybody," said 60-year-old Mullane, who retired from NASA in 1990. "And I say that because it has no powered-flight escape system ... Basically the bailout system we have on the shuttle is the same bailout system a B-17 bomber pilot had in World War Two."
A powered-flight escape system that would have blasted shuttle astronauts from the doomed craft might have saved the Challenger crew when that shuttle exploded seconds after launch on January 28, 1986, Mullane said.
It probably would not have been able to keep the Columbia crew alive as their ship disintegrated on re-entry on February 1, 2003. These two disasters claimed 14 lives.
"That was the true tragedy of Challenger: Nothing was learned. Columbia was a repeat of Challenger, where people had a known design problem" and launched anyway, Mullane said.
Full CNN story here: www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/space/01/17/shuttle.astronaut.reut/index.html
I'm certain that is what the present astronauts think...all of them.
Now it's said...put them in a museum.