Escape procedures will be among the tests conducted on a space shuttle that was rolled out yesterday to the same launch pad from which Challenger blasted off. The shuttle, Atlantis, is due to undergo scores of tests, including one that will involve seven astronauts in escape procedures, during the seven weeks it is scheduled to remain on the launch pad.
The tests will be the most extensive carried out with a space vehicle sitting on the launch pad and could lead to changes in escape procedures following the Jan. 28 disaster in which Challenger blew up soon after launch.
``We view this as the first step toward meeting the February 1988, launch date,'' said Conrad Nagel, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's director of shuttle-flow activities.
``What we are basically trying to do is have a learning experience and build up knowledge about the vehicle.'' On a related note, a House committee issued a report earlier this week concluding that the White House and Congress are equally to blame for schedule pressures that led to the Challenger explosion. The report said those pressures still exist within NASA.