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NASA Science

NASA Worker Falls To His Death On Launch Pad 202

RedEaredSlider writes "Tragedy has struck NASA as the organization announced a space shuttle worker fell to his death at the Endeavour launch pad this morning. NASA said the United Space Alliance worker fell at approximately 7:40 am eastern at the NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A. The launch pad is currently holding the space shuttle Endeavour, which is slated to launch on April 19."
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NASA Worker Falls To His Death On Launch Pad

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  • by C0vardeAn0nim0 ( 232451 ) on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:09PM (#35482980) Journal

    it was the last lauch for _discovery_. atlantis and endeavour still have one launch each on the schedule

  • by ATestR ( 1060586 ) on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:10PM (#35482992) Homepage

    The mission that just ended was the last flight of Discovery. The other two shuttles each have one final flight before they two are sent to museums.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:29PM (#35483214)
    Having worked at a national lab, I'm similarly amazed. The rules are very strict (e.g. you have to be safety-trained to even use a regular ladder to fetch something up high). For this to have happened, the worker must have been violating the safety rules. (It's possible, but much less likely, that there was some kind of equipment failure.) One thing the investigation will have to look into is whether this was just one employee breaking the rules, endangering himself, or whether higher-ups were aware of the corner-cutting and let it happen anyways. Or, worse, is a superior was pressuring him to complete certain work in an unsafe manner.

    Again, from my experience I would guess it was the worker himself who was side-stepping the rules. (I hate to sound like I'm blaming the victim, though...) Typically management get in so much trouble (and have to deal with so much paperwork and lost productivity from shutdowns) that they really do care about safety and DO NOT want anyone breaking a safety rule.

    Then again, I'm speaking in generalities. We'll have to wait and see what led to this particular tragedy.
  • by PyroMosh ( 287149 ) on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:47PM (#35483424) Homepage

    Basically the rule says that if the shuttle is going to an orbit where it can rendezvous with ISS, that a backup has to be able to reach ISS within 28 days. During that time, the astronauts can stay there, but beyond 28 days, ISS can't really handle the extra crew.

    If the shuttle mission is to an orbit where rendezvous is NOT possible, a vessel has to be ready to go more or less immediately (7 days if I recall).

    Since the Columbia disaster, I believe only one mission was to a non-ISS orbit. (The final Hubble Space Telescope upgrade mission) This is the only time that two shuttles were on the pad simultaneously.

    Now for the specific situation going on now:

    The next flight will be Endeavour, and Atlantis will be the designated rescue shuttle.

    Atlantis will fly the final mission of the shuttle program, (if the funding is approved) and there will be no space shuttle available as a backup. Because of this, Atlantis will only be carrying a crew of 4 so if something goes wrong with it, they can recover the crew via Russian capsule(s) while the four stay at ISS.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday March 14, 2011 @04:29PM (#35483866) Homepage

    That's really awful. But... Aren't these guys supposed to be clipped in when they're working up there?

    Apparently there are some contexts in which OHSA will allow free-climbing since tying in as actually more dangerous.

    A friend sent me this [] video a while back (sorry for the flash) ... it shows some guy climbing a really tall tower and not being tied on for the most part.

    Not for the faint of heart or people who really don't like heights. It's not something I'd be willing to do.

Happiness is twin floppies.