Spacehab Inc., maker of
the living modules used in the U.S. space shuttle fleet, slapped
NASA with a big lawsuit on Tuesday, as it tries to recoup its
losses from the tragic Columbia crash. The company filed an $87.7
million formal claim against the space agency for equipment
destroyed during the shuttle disaster last year. Spacehab bases the
merits of its case on the recent findings of the Columbia Accident
Investigation Board (CAIB).
Spacehab, which had filed a draft claim in July, said it revised
its newest claim to incorporate the findings of the Columbia
Accident Investigation Board report. The CAIB said in August that
NASA officials missed eight chances to address fears that falling
insulation foam may have damaged the shuttle, which broke apart
over Texas last Feb. 1, killing all seven astronauts aboard.
The foam that tumbled
from the ship's external tank just after takeoff was ultimately
found to be the accident's likely cause. Houston-based Spacehab
said it was in "discussions" with NASA with the goal of settling
the claim as soon as possible. NASA spokesman Doc Mirelson said he
had not seen Spacehab's claim and had no immediate comment.
The company, which also trains astronauts, said its contract
with NASA included a provision that accounted for loss or damage to
its flight hardware up to $8 million. Spacehab's final claim also
includes millions of dollars for "losses in addition to those
contractually specified." However, the company said in a
statement it does not know when or how much it will receive for its
claim from NASA.