STS-107 MCC Status Report #24; Thursday, Feb. 6, 2003 –
7:00 p.m. CST
The independent board charged with determining
what caused the destruction of the Space Shuttle Columbia
and the loss of its seven astronauts began its work today at the
Johnson Space Center, Houston. Recovery teams continued to search
for debris from California to Louisiana.
...the Columbia Accident Board received a briefing from
Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore. The board began the process
of gathering material collected since Columbia's breakup during
reentry just 16 minutes before landing on Feb 1.
NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe reaffirmed the Board will act as
a "totally independent entity in assessing all of the factors"
associated with Columbia's loss. Administrator O'Keefe added, "We
will be guided by the findings of the Board."
...O'Keefe indicated that Admiral Gehman may consider adding
another member or members to the Independent Board that have no
affiliation or ties to NASA in further strengthening its charter.
The Charter is available on line at: http://www.nasa.gov/columbia/board_documents.pdf...
"No possibility is being ruled out as the root
cause for Columbia's loss," Dittemore (right) said.
"We are still looking for that elusive missing link." ...The
recovered debris will be analyzed at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.,
before being returned to the Kennedy Space Center for
reconstruction of Columbia, to the extent possible, and
STS-107 MCC Status Report #25; Friday, February 7, 2003 7 p.m.
The independent board charged with determining what caused the
destruction of Columbia met with NASA Administrator Sean
O'Keefe at the Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston. Space Shuttle
Program Manager Ron Dittemore flew to the External Tank
manufacturer in Michoud, La. to discuss processing of the tank with
engineers. Recovery teams continued to search for debris.
Dittemore told an afternoon briefing that a small portion of the
reinforced carbon-carbon insulation of the leading edge of one of
the Shuttle's wings was found in the Fort Worth, Texas area. It
measures approximately 26-27 inches in length and 18 inches wide.
It has not been determined whether it is from the left or right
wing. The magnitude of the search for shuttle debris has expanded,
with more than 1200 people involved in the recovery effort,
including 220 from NASA and 800 National Guardsmen... "This will be
a long, painstaking process," Dittemore said of the investigation.
"But I am proud of this (Shuttle Program) team. They have risen to
...and Aboard the ISS...
...While data analysis continued, the residents of
the International Space Station completed their unloading of a
Russian Progress resupply ship today and conducted a variety of
biomedical experiments. Expedition 6 Commander Ken Bowersox, Flight
Engineer Nikolai Budarin and NASA ISS Science Officer Don Pettit
are in their 76th day in space, their 74th day on board the
With shuttle missions on indefinite hold, NASA managers are
discussing whether adjustments are needed to the late April launch
of a new Russian Soyuz TMA spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome
in Kazakhstan. It would be manned by a "taxi" crew that delivers
the craft used for assured crew return to the Station and returns
to Earth in the Soyuz currently at the station. Potential options
are being looked at in concert with the International Partners to
keep the Station manned, safe, and productive.
While there are no plans to remove the Station crew during the
Shuttle recovery period, discussions are ongoing to ensure proper
manning and supplies until Shuttles fly again. Another Progress
cargo vehicle is scheduled for launch the Station in June to
maintain a robust supply of food, fuel, and maintenance
STS-107 Report #26; Monday, February 10, 2003 - 6 p.m. CST
Administrator Sean O'Keefe (right) reported today
approximately 12,000 pieces of debris from the Space Shuttle
Columbia have been collected along a 500-mile swath
between Ft. Worth, Texas, and the Louisiana-Texas border. The
debris is being tagged for identification and transported to the
Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla., for use in the on-going
There is no primary or favorite theory as to what caused the
Feb. 1 Shuttle accident. Fault-tree analysis and Probability Risk
Assessments continue to be important tools to ensure no possible
cause is overlooked. NASA's focus is on helping to determine the
cause of the accident, finding solutions to the problems, and
returning to safe flight operations as soon as possible.
A section of reinforced carbon-carbon from the leading edge of a
Shuttle wing was recovered. It is believed to be from the left
wing. Teams continue to search for and collect debris. The first
pieces of debris are expected to begin the 18-hour journey by truck
from Barksdale AFB to KSC on Tuesday and arrive on Wednesday.
...NASA will continue to release information periodically as
appropriate as it becomes available. "We will defer to the
CAIB to set the pace of discussions of how the investigation
itself is progressing," O'Keefe said. He added that the Board will
advise NASA when the data and hardware that has been impounded will
be released for continued Shuttle operations...
...O'Keefe added that he intends to release the CAIB's
recommendations to the public as soon as they are available. "It is
our responsibility to make that informed judgment public," he said,
explaining that the scope and breadth of the Board members'
experience in aircraft and other types of accidents is more than
NASA could bring to bear on the investigation.