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Safety Chief at Odds With NASA
NASA's top safety official objected to the agency's decision to press ahead with the launch of Discovery next month without fixing a potentially catastrophic foam-shedding problem, but said he won't appeal _ and won't resign in protest _ because he does not believe the shuttle astronauts' lives are in danger.
"It's a done deal," NASA chief safety officer Bryan O'Connor said in a Monday night interview with The Associated Press.
O'Connor, a former shuttle commander, said he was uncomfortable with going ahead with the launch on July 1 but accepted the decision because NASA has plans in place to have the crew take refuge in the international space station and wait for a rescue mission if foam punches too big a hole in the shuttle's heat protection system.
He and shuttle program manager Wayne Hale, who have spent decades in the program, said they could not recall a previous instance in which a launch proceeded over the objections of the safety office.