TAL Sites - Shuttle Abort-Mission Contingency

TAL Sites - Shuttle Abort-Mission Contingency American History Famous Historical Events Aviation & Space Exploration STEM Tragedies and Triumphs Geography

Let's imagine a space-shuttle scenario with trouble lurking:

  • What happens if the shuttle crew detects a problem, after launch, while the orbiter is over the Atlantic? 
  • Can the orbiter land somewhere?
  • If so, where would the crew go? 

NASA answers those questions at its "Missions" web site:

When a space shuttle roars from the launch pad and arcs over the Atlantic, a safety net of European landing sites is ready to save the day in the event of a problem. Known as Transoceanic Abort Landing sites, or 'TAL' sites, the specially prepared bases are a shuttle's safe haven in times of trouble. 

The big question is when would NASA need a TAL site? "Those sites are there as a place where the orbiter can land if it doesn't have enough energy to get into orbit," said Tom Friers, a NASA ground operations manager who runs one such site.

Landing at a TAL site could be necessary, for instance, if a space shuttle's engines failed, leaving the vehicle short of power to make it into space. Landing at a TAL site has never been necessary, but it's smart to have the option.

NASA currently has three TAL sites, two in Spain at Moron and Zaragoza, and one in the South of France at Istres. The three air bases are within gliding range of a space shuttle trying to reach the International Space Station.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5183stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Sep 22, 2019

Media Credits

Image, NASA.

Information and quoted passage, NASA's "Missions" web site.


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"TAL Sites - Shuttle Abort-Mission Contingency" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Sep 22, 2019.
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