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August 17, 1994

Medical Aid at Hand Wherever Space Shuttle Lands

JAMA. 1994;272(7):506-507. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520070018009

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AMERICAN ASTRONAUTS never have faced what the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) calls a TAL—a Transoceanic Abort Landing. But if they ever do, medical help will be available.

Such an unscheduled landing would be necessary:

  • If one or more of the space shuttle's three main engines fail during its ascent into orbit.

  • In case of failure of the orbiter's cabin pressurization or a similar major system.

  • Should adverse weather conditions preclude use of the main landing sites at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida or Edwards Air Force Base in California.

  • When some other major emergency arises.

Crew members then would try to use one of several sites designated in advance for such a contingency. These include the following:

  • Ben Guerir Air Base (AB), which has a 4200-m runway in the African desert 58 km north of Marrakech, Morocco.

  • Yundum Airport, Banjul, The Gambia, on Africa's Atlantic coast, which

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