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"Hey Don, what's with this switch that says "Normal" and "Ballistic"?

Is this the same guidance software used for ballistic missile 
re-entry?  Bill Gates would be proud!..."It can do this AND that, all at 
the same time!  Think of the savings!"


>Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC
>Permission previously granted by Houston Chronicle
>May 7, 2003, 10:05AM
>Soyuz crew denies it caused hair-raising plunge to Earth
>Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau
>WASHINGTON -- The former crewmen of the international space station
>denied Tuesday that they hit the wrong button in the Russian Soyuz
>spacecraft as it plunged to Earth last weekend in a rough, screaming
>descent that pushed their tongues back into their throats and landed
>their capsule nearly 300 miles off target in the Kazak steppe.
>"There is a button and it was covered. I double-checked that because
>that's always the first thing you worry about," American astronaut Ken
>Bowersox said in Star City, Russia. "You can never say for sure you
>didn't make a mistake. However, we didn't see any sign on board that we
>made any errors."
>Russian cosmonaut Nikolai Budarin confirmed that, saying the space
>capsule had been set on automatic and the three-man crew, which also
>included American Don Pettit, did nothing to change that.
>"It's for the specialists to figure out what was the cause," he said in
>Russian. "Let's wait and see, but for now I can say that it was not our
>own doing."
>Earlier this week, space experts in Russia suggested that a button may
>have been pressed inadvertently, causing the guidance computer to switch
>from a normal entry to a ballistic one that subjected the men to eight
>times the force of gravity. That's twice the normal amount for a Soyuz
>landing and three times what American astronauts are accustomed to in
>space shuttle returns.
>The dramatic, off-course landing and communications problems resulted in
>a tense two-hour wait before the spacemen's families knew they had made
>it down safely. The landing was the first since space shuttle Columbia
>broke up on re-entry over Texas on Feb. 1, killing seven astronauts.
>On Tuesday, Melissa Motichek, a spokeswoman at NASA's Washington
>headquarters, acknowledged that there also has been speculation that a
>glitch in the guidance computer software in the new-model Soyuz could be
>to blame for the rough entry.
>If that is the case, it should be easy to repair before the two new
>occupants of the space station use another Soyuz to come home in the
>fall. The Soyuz is the only vehicle capable of ferrying people to and
>from the space station while the U.S. shuttle fleet is grounded.
>But Motichek cautioned that no cause for the steep re-entry has been
>pinpointed. She said the capsule has been shipped to Energia, the
>company that built it, so investigators can examine its data recorders.
>Whatever the cause of their wild ride home -- the first for U.S.
>astronauts aboard a Russian capsule -- the men said they were thrilled
>to crawl out of the spacecraft, to breathe fresh air and take in the
>beauty of their surroundings after spending 5 1/2 months aboard the
>space station.
>Pettit, a rookie spaceman who was the weakest upon his return because of
>muscle and bone deterioration from living in space, said he had been
>dreading the "mob scene" that would greet them on landing and was glad
>the off-course touchdown on Sunday morning Russian time afforded him
>some privacy.
>"I was actually relieved to ooze out of the spacecraft and lay on Mother
>Earth and have a solitude moment in which to get reacquainted," he said.
>He said the G forces on descent made him feel "like I was Atlas and I
>had the whole weight of the world on my shoulders."
>Bowersox, a former test pilot, said the landing was "easier than I
>thought it was going to be, but there's a lot of pressure on your chest.
>It's hard to breathe and your tongue sort of slips back in your head and
>toward the back of your throat."
>Earlier, Bowersox, talking with his family and colleagues as a NASA
>camera crew followed them around, recalled that Budarin let out a
>thrilled whoop when the gravitational forces hit, while the Americans
>strained against the G's, yelling, "Aaaugh, aaaugh!"
>"It was quite an experience," he said.
>On Tuesday, Budarin explained that the rough landing, the crew's
>transition from weightlessness to gravity and antenna problems on the
>ground delayed their ability to report their safe arrival.
>After Budarin popped the hatch, the three crawled out of the capsule,
>and lay on their backs enjoying breathing in the fresh air. It was about
>1 1/2 hours, he said, before they were able to get off their knees and
>Meanwhile, he said, Bowersox had struggled out of his spacesuit and
>crawled back into the craft to retrieve a NASA radio to call rescuers.
>Still, the signal was weak, Budarin said.
>Two hours after their landing, the men made contact, and two hours after
>that, they were picked up.
>The men used the extra time to soak in the scenery, which Bowersox
>described as "gorgeous." Now that he's on the ground, he said, he
>appreciates "small things differently -- rainy days and blue skies and
>Asked how the delay affected their wives and families, who were
>nervously awaiting the men's arrival with the Columbia disaster fresh in
>mind, Pettit hesitated, clammed up, and finally passed the microphone to
>his commander without answering.
>"Well, let's talk about how great it was to see them," Bowersox said.
>"They had tears in their eyes and I could tell they were very happy to
>see us.
>"And we were very happy to see them."


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