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SUBJEC: Launching Atlantis to Rescue the STS-107 Crew

Introduction, Recommendation, and Plan

A breach in the Thermal Protection System on the leading edge of Columbia’s left-wing resulted in an adverse disaster that could claim the lives of the crew. In a matter of seconds after the launch, the left bipod ramp part of the Columbia’s external tank produced a piece of insulating foam. This incident made it possible for superheated air to escape through the leading edge insulation. As a result, the left wing’s aluminum structure melted and got weak. This breach exposed the crew to a great danger that requires an immediate reaction to curb. The rescue mission will require adequate resources and proper priority setting by the mission control.

Although the left-wing was adversely affected to a point that little success would be realized in attempting to repair it, the STS-107 crew could be rescued by launching the Atlantis so that the crew would be transferred to it through spacewalks. The mission control should launch the Atlantis as soon as possible. Records prove that such a launch was possible going by the weather conditions. Failure to take this control measure would be a clear proof of negligence of the concerned authorities. NASA should focus on how to save the astronauts and refrain from informing the astronauts or their families about the impending danger. It is because such information would heighten the level of panic among the crew and their families, hence worsening the situation.

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Thus, it is recommended that the Atlantis is launched as soon as possible to evacuate the crew of the Columbia, without raising unnecessary attention to the event.

Giving a Rescue to the STS-107 Crew through the Launch of Atlantis

The team confirmed that repair of the damaged wing is unrealistic. It is necessary to rush the Atlantis to the pad for a launch after which it will be sent to aid the crew’s safe return. This rescue mission would be a success if NASA was prepared to expose the Atlantis together with its crew. The rescue process would be executed as follows:

1. The launching of the Atlantis could be done by a commander, 7 pilots and adequately trained spacewalk astronauts that would help in transferring the Columbian crew to the Atlantis.

2. The astronauts of the Atlantis would be instructed on how to handle the situation.

3. The Mission Control needs to ensure that the Columbia was configured for a de-orbit burn to ditch it in the Pacific Ocean after the operation.

4. After approaching the Columbia, the Atlantis would spread its open payload bays to face it and to give room for its trained astronauts to reach the Columbian crew.

5. Well-trained spacewalk astronauts would evacuate the Columbian crew members to the Atlantis in a series of four spacewalks.

6. The Columbian could be abandoned hence it would be guided by remote control to the ocean.

7. The Atlantis with both crews onboard would safely enter the Earth’s atmosphere and land in the appointed location.

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Costs and Benefits

· Using the Atlantis to rescue the crew of the Columbia is secure and the mission would be effective in saving them and having them brought back alive since the NASA team could hardly confirm that repairs could withstand a re-entry.

· A successful rescue operation would save NASA’s image and position it as a trustworthy and reliable organization.

· A decision not to inform both the astronauts and their families would help to avoid psychological trauma and panic that would aggravate tension.

· The Columbia, once unmanned, would most probably be still destroyed, but the process would be under the control of professionals and there would be no unnecessary sacrifices.

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Evidently, Columbia’s astronauts are subject to danger due to negligence by the managers that took the pieces of advice given by the engineers lightly. Thus, it is necessary for rescue measures to be taken to help save the lives of the astronauts. The rescue operation will try to save the crew by launching the Atlantis to which they would be transferred through spacewalks. The astronauts and their families will not cause additional panic since they will not be informed of the possible danger. In addition, the rescue mission will help NASA save its face and avoid notorious publicity.

Please, arrange an emergency meeting this week where the board will discuss the incident and invite specialists who will contribute to the decision-making process.

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