Space Shuttle:

Readiness of the Transoceanic Abort Landing Sites

NSIAD-89-22: Published: Dec 16, 1988. Publicly Released: Dec 28, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the operational readiness of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) transoceanic abort landing (TAL) sites to support space shuttle missions.

GAO found that NASA: (1) currently has one TAL site each in Morocco and Gambia and two in Spain; (2) completed operational readiness inspections of the sites, focusing on navigational and communications equipment installation and testing, availability of trained personnel for mission support and operations, rescue personnel, plans and procedures, and security arrangements, all prior to the September 29, 1988, shuttle mission; (3) identified security problems at the Moroccan site and problems with the installation of an arresting barrier at the Gambian site; (4) provided 33 security personnel to cover the shuttle launch through an interim agreement with Morocco, although Morocco later provided 135 additional security personnel; (5) believes that Morocco will require it to fund only the 33 security personnel agreed upon in the negotiations and has renewed its efforts to negotiate a long-term security agreement for future shuttle launches; (6) completed the installation of the arresting barrier at the Gambian site; and (7) is exploring the possibility of stationing a NASA-supported official in Morocco to administer its local affairs.

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