posted on Mar, 6 2011 @ 02:22 PM
reply to post by Illustronic
After the Apollo 1 fire tragedy, NASA (and the Russians) got away from having a pure oxygen environment. The ISS instead uses a mixture of gases
similar to the Earth's atmosphere, which is much safer in case of a fire. MIR used a similar atmosphere.
As for what do you do if the fire burns out of control? I suppose there is a protocol for when it is evident that the crew must "abandon ship" and
use the emergency escape capsules/"lifeboats". Both the ISS and MIR have/had permanently docked Soyuz capsules that could ferry the astronauts back
to Earth (or at least away from the station) in times of dire need. Each Soyuz could hold three astronauts, so there needs to be multiple Soyuz
capsules if there are more than three station crew members. In fact, the size of the crew is limited by the number of Soyuz capsules docked to the
station. When the space shuttle is docked, it is considered to be one of the escape "lifeboats", and can carry the astronauts that with it back to
The interesting/scary thing about the MIR fire is that there were six crew members, but the fire was blocking to only route to one of the two docked
Soyuz lifeboats/escape capsules. That means that if they DID have to abandon ship, only three could have done so, while the other three would be
trapped -- and would probably die if they couldn't put out the fire.
Another interesting side note -- because of the Columbia disaster, NASA now requires an "escape plan" for the astronauts in the space shuttle. If the
shuttle was launched into orbit, but was found to have damage similar to Clumbia that would prohibit it from making a safe re-entry and return to
Earth, the astronauts could use the ISS as a temporary lifeboat until another shuttle could be made ready to come and retrieve them -- which could
take weeks, or even months.
However, in 2009 when the shuttle was doing the Hubble Telescope repair mission, there would have been no way for the shuttle to reach the space
station if the shuttle was found to be damaged beyond repair. Hubble is at a much higher altitude than the ISS, so flying from Hubble to the ISS is
impossible. Therefore, NASA needed to have a second shuttle
all ready to go, sitting on a launch pad, just in case it had to rescue the
astronauts in the other shuttle doing the Hubble repair.
Two Shuttles on Launch Pads
edit on 3/6/2011 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)