Flight International online news 08:00GMT: Plans to use the International Space Station (ISS) as a safe haven if  a Space Shuttle is seriously damaged will be rendered unviable after the expected March 2006 Space Shuttle Discovery mission, STS 115.

Space station - BIG
                                                                                    Source: NASA

STS 115 will add a solar panel truss segment to ISS and the station will become inherently unstable until the delivery of another truss expected three to four flights later.

This means a damaged orbiter could not be docked to the ISS for any prolonged period during that time.

But NASA’s own Contingency Shuttle Crew Support (CSCS) plan shows the orbiter needs to be docked to the ISS for up to 20 days because its supplies are needed for crew life support.

This is because the ISS has two crew and could not support the shuttle’s additional seven for very long.

In all, the CSCS plan is a 45 day scenario because that is how long it is expected to take for a second shuttle to be prepared and launched to rescue the stranded crew.

In the now-defunct Return To Flight Task Group’s June public presentation it was stated that in the event of an emergency  “all Shuttle reserves and ISS consumables may be depleted.”

If all ISS consumables were depleted the rescue shuttle would have to rescue the ISS crew as well and the station may be de-orbited.

The CSCS plan was drawn up after the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003 due to damage to the port wing by external tank foam during launch.



Source: Flight International