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Wed, Feb 12, 2003

Direct> From NASA; Shuttle Reports (digest)

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 final disposition...

STS-107 MCC Status Report #25; Friday, February 7, 2003 7 p.m. CST

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 the occasion."

...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 complex.

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 components...

STS-107 Report #26; Monday, February 10, 2003 - 6 p.m. CST

NASA 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 investigation.

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.

FMI: www.spaceflight.nasa.gov

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