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Safety panel urges NASA to develop shuttle crew escape system
Posted: Wed, Mar 26, 2003, 10:35 PM ET (0335 GMT)
STS-107: launch (NASA/KSC) An independent panel that advises NASA on safety issues said this week that the agency needs develop a system that would allow shuttle crews to safely escape a shuttle. The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), in its annual report to NASA, said that NASA violated its own standards for crew safety by not making a commitment to study ejection seats or other methods of crew escape. ASAP had made similar recommendations in past years, and now urged NASA to either begin crew escape system studies or explain in detail why it has not. NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, in attendance at the ASAP briefing where the report was announced, appeared to be reluctant to endorse the crew escape recommendation, saying that the safest approach to the shuttle program would be to simply not fly it. The ASAP report also expressed concerns about the age of the shuttle fleet, noting a number of minor problems shuttle missions experienced last year prior to Columbia's last mission. ASAP, created in the wake of the fatal Apollo 1 accident in 1967, completed its report prior to Columbia's February 1 accident; the report noted the accident but said that the contents of the report were not altered based on the accident or its aftermath.
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