|Image credit: NASA|
The end of January and beginning of February is a time of remembrance for NASA piloted spaceflight. On 27 January 1967, astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee lost their lives in the Apollo 1 fire. On 28 January 1986, the crew of Space Shuttle mission STS-51L (Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Ron McNair, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe) perished after the Orbiter Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds after launch. On 1 February 2003, the STS-107 crew (Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark, and Ilan Ramon) died when the Orbiter Columbia broke up during reentry after a nearly 16-day mission in Earth orbit.
Piloted spaceflight has never been routine, though sometimes, for reasons that have little to do with best practices in space engineering, it has been unwisely treated as such. Throughout the history of U.S. piloted spaceflight, however, NASA and its contractors typically have tried to anticipate possible malfunctions and, where possible, develop procedures for dealing with them.
What If an Apollo Saturn Rocket Exploded on the Launch Pad? (1965)
What If Apollo Astronauts Could Not Ride the Saturn V Rocket? (1965)
North American Aviation's 1965 Plan to Rescue Apollo Astronauts Stranded in Lunar Orbit
What If an Apollo Lunar Module Ran Low on Fuel and Aborted Its Moon Landing? (1966)
If an Apollo Lunar Module Crashed on the Moon, Could NASA Investigate the Cause? (1967)
What If Apollo Astronauts Became Marooned in Lunar Orbit? (1968)
A CSM-Only Back-Up Plan for the Apollo 13 Mission to the Moon (1970)
What If a Crew Became Stranded On Board the Skylab Space Station? (1972)
What If a Space Shuttle Orbiter Had to Ditch? (1975)
George Landwehr von Pragenau's Quest for a Stronger, Safer Space Shuttle (1984)
What If a Shuttle Orbiter Struck a Bird? (1988)
NASA's 1992 Plan to Land Soyuz Space Station Lifeboats in Australia