Seven minutes may not seem like a lot of time, but for the astronauts on board the shuttle Discovery, it's all the time they have to declare an in-flight emergency after liftoff and abort the mission.
Had that been the case, 14 pararescuemen from Moody Air Force Base were on standby to lead the rescue effort.
CAPT Thomas Butler, NASA Rescue Mission Commander, says, "The whole method was brought about in the unfortunate mishap of the Challenger. Both NASA and the Department of Defense looked at how can we do our jobs better."
They were the guardian angels for the seven astronauts aboard the Discovery. Angels trained and ready for anything.
Tech SGT Kenneth Marshall says, "Things that never seemed likely in the past are coming to light now and we just have to be ready for anything, anywhere, anytime."
It is exactly why NASA brought these trained airmen on board for shuttle support, proving these guys aren't only about downed pilots and soldiers anymore.
Tech SGT Chris Young says, "I definitely know this is what I wanted to do, to be the guy they call when there is an emergency. It's an incredible rush, but there's also incredible responsibility that goes with it."
Butler adds, "We like to think of ourselves as the Jack of trades."
They’re all eager to get the job done. The alternate landing and rescue efforts plan has never been enacted, but after the Challenger disaster, pararescuers say that NASA is taking no chances.
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