If space shuttle is doomed, do you tell the crew?

If space shuttle is doomed, do you tell the crew?

Credit: Associated Press

FILE - This photo provided by NASA in June 2003 shows STS-107 crew members,from the left (bottom row), wearing red shirts to signify their shift’s color, are astronauts Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist; Rick D. Husband, mission commander; Laurel B. Clark, mission specialist; and Ilan Ramon, payload specialist. From the left (top row), wearing blue shirts, are astronauts David M. Brown, mission specialist; William C. McCool, pilot; and Michael P. Anderson, payload commander. The astronauts were killed on Feb. 1, 2003, in the final minutes of their 16-day scientific research mission aboard Columbia. Altogether, 12 children lost a parent aboard Columbia. The youngest is now 15, the oldest 32. (AP Photo/NASA, File)

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by Associated Press

kvue.com

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 9:02 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A NASA top official wrestled with what he thought was a hypothetical question: What do you tell the astronauts of a doomed space shuttle Columbia?

When the NASA official raised the question in 2003 just days before a re-entry accident over Texas killed seven astronauts, managers thought -- wrongly -- that Columbia's heat shield was fine. They told astronauts they weren't worried about launch damage.

But after a managers meeting, mission operations chief Jon Harpold told flight director Wayne Hale that if something was wrong it was hopeless and maybe they shouldn't tell the crew.

Hale wrote about the conversation 10 years later. He said NASA would have tried to save the crew had engineers realized the problem's true severity.

Hale said the lesson from Columbia is: Don't give up.
 

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