Shuttle commander sees wide environmental damage

Houston, Aug 4 | Updated: Aug 5 2005, 05:30am hrs
Commander Eileen Collins said astronauts on shuttle Discovery had seen widespread environmental destruction on Earth and warned on Thursday that greater care was needed to protect natural resources.

Her comments came as NASA pondered whether to send astronauts out on an extra spacewalk to repair additional heat-protection damage on the first shuttle mission since the 2003 Colombia disaster.

Discovery is linked with the International Space Station and orbiting 220 miles (352 km) above the Earth. Sometimes you can see how there is erosion, and you can see how there is deforestation.

Its very widespread in some parts of the world, Collins said in a conversation from space with Japanese officials in Tokyo, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

We would like to see, from the astronauts point of view, people take good care of the Earth and replace the resources that have been used, said Collins, who was standing with Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi in front of a Japanese flag and holding a colorful fan. Collins, making her fourth shuttle flight, said the view from space made clear that Earths atmosphere must be protected,too.