NASA’s crazy idea to save space shuttle astronauts

The PRA was designed for a scenario where there wasn’t enough spacesuits for everyone. Before the Challenger disaster, the space shuttle crew did not wear astronaut suits inside the spacecraft. In case of an accident and there is enough time to launch a rescue space shuttle, the PRE system was supposed to be used for unsuited astronauts.

The function of the PRA was to stick to the space shuttle until the pressure inside the airlock was reduced. Then, the astronaut wearing an astronaut suit from the rescue shuttle transfers the PRA and the astronaut inside it to the rescue shuttle. It was also possible to move the PRA with Canadarm’s robotic arm, or move it along the line connecting the two shuttles, like a shirt on a clothesline. NASA planned to transfer the entire crew from the damaged shuttle to the rescue shuttle.

As usual, NASA was eager to share its ideas with the public, and PRAE was no exception. In a booklet titled NASA facts in 1979, the US space agency speaks confidently about the future of the space shuttle, pointing out how it will transform complex and costly space missions into common and economical operations to create maximum benefit for all people. In that booklet, NASA showed PRA and explained its relevance.

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