Archive - Jan 3, 2009 - Story
The seven astronauts killed during the 2003 loss of NASA's space shuttle Columbia survived less than a minute after their spacecraft began breaking apart, according to a new report released Tuesday that suggests changes to astronaut training and spacecraft cabin design.
The 400-page "Columbia Crew Survival Investigation Report" released today states that Columbia's ill-fated crew had a period of just 40 seconds between the loss of control of their spacecraft and its lethal depressurization in which to act on Feb. 1, 2003.
The crew's response was hampered by delays in donning their re-entry pressure suits, which ultimately would not have saved them during the searing plunge into the atmosphere anyway.
The company planning to take tourists into space, Virgin Galactic, and the State of New Mexico announced today that they have signed a 20-year lease agreement - a deal worth an estimated $150 million to $250 million which firmly plants the spaceline operator's world headquarters in New Mexico to make use of Spaceport America.
The inland Spaceport America is billed as the nation's first purposely built commercial spaceport.
Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic firm will make use of the WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipTwo launch system - now under development at Scaled Composites in Mojave, California - to loft paying customers at $200,000 a seat on suborbital treks departing from Spaceport America.