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NASA Says That Alternatives to Attempting a Columbia Landing Were Not Feasible

On Monday, The New York Times published an article that listed the alternatives that NASA engineers had discussed to allowing Columbia to proceed with a landing attempt and why none of these scenarios was feasilble. One of the most oft-cited alternatives was accelerating the launch of Atlantis, the Shuttle closest to readiness. However, the article says:

...Atlantis is still in its hangar, and to rush it to launching would have required NASA to circumvent most of its safety measures. "It takes about three weeks, at our best effort, to prepare the shuttle for launch once we're at the pad," Bruce Buckingham {a Kennedy Space Center spokesman} said, "and we're not even at the pad." Further, Columbia had enough oxygen, supplies and fuel (for its thrusters only) to remain in orbit for only five more days, said Patrick Ryan, a spokesman at the Johnson Space Center....

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