The source for this figure is Richard Garriott, not IEEE. Plenty of people are IEEE members! (My cat's an IEEE member!)
I guess this goes to prove that great old chestnut—linear regression is never wrong, for very small amounts of never and asymptotic amounts of wrong.
Progress is fundamentally a different vehicle from the more massive, more complex, man-rated Columbia. Comparing propellant potential is meaningless if you don't talk about the associated load that propellant is used on. That is why most of this discussion refers to delta-V - the change in trajectory. Gains would still be achievable without a round trip. The article specifically discussed the most limiting resource on Columbia being the CO2 scrubbers. If either the Progress or Soyuz can make a one way delivery of replacement scrubbers (along with more oxygen/food/whatever), you've just bought your stranded crew some additional time with which to ready a proper, AND SAFE, rescue mission.
I believe you. But if there was ever a sliver of a chance for a one way trip by either of the two vehicles.....
..... even if you do happen to make it... what then?
* Use the capacity of the Progress to transfer over whatever supplies might be available at the ISS to 1) try to fix the wing damage. 2) extend the survival of Columbia's crew in space until another shuttle/soyuz could be safely launched to rescue them.
* Use the soyuz to rescue three of the crew immediately by returning them to Earth. The remaining crew would hopefully consume less resources and be able to hold out a little longer for a shuttle or soyuz launch.
A very good guess, and I suspected as much. However, I would counter for the sake of argument that at the very least, the actual capabilities of the proposed "ferries" be spelled out as being inadequate. Do we know for certain that the Progress or Soyuz are, without a doubt, unable to meet the shuttle 96% of the way? The Progress supply vehicle, in principle, is built to move a lot of cargo. I suppose at the state where it is already docked to the ISS, there should only be enough fuel for it to undock, deorbit, and burn up with whatever garbage needs to be disposed of. Likewise, the Soyuz shouldn't be carrying more fuel than needed to return astronauts safely back to Earth. But I remember reading somewhere that when the ISS needs to have its orbit boosted, either the Progress or the Soyuz would execute a rocket burn long and hard enough to push the entire space station to a higher orbit. If the proposed ferry is supposed to be able to do that, isn't it reasonable to hope the thing can fly by itself over to match orbits with the shuttle?
GP was lazy for not reading the article carefully. However, it seems strange that no one has ever suggested that the Progress supply vehicle or Soyuz life boat on the ISS could are additional variables in the scenario and have been used as a ferry to meet the shuttle half way. Is anyone knowledgeable enough to work out the feasibility?