Spacecraft travel higher and faster than aircraft, making breakup potentially less survivable. As with aircraft breakup, the dissipation of lethal forces via spacecraft breakup around an organism is likely to greatly increase the odds of survival. By employing a knowledge of space and aviation physiology, comparative physiology, and search-and-rescue techniques, we were able to correctly predict and execute the recovery of live animals following the breakup of the space shuttle Columbia. In this study, we make what is, to our knowledge, the first report of an animal, Caenorhabditis elegans, surviving the atmospheric breakup of the spacecraft that was supporting it and discuss both the lethal events these animals had to escape and the implications for search and rescue following spacecraft breakup.
A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.