December 2000 Archives


29 December 2000: Nicogossian on IPA assignment

Editor's note: word has it that former OLMSA Associate Administrator Arnauld Nicogossian will begin an IPA assignment on 2 January 2001 with both the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). Effective immediately, Dr. Richard Williams will serve as Acting Chief
Health and Medical Officer. Williams is the former Director
of NASA's Office of Health Affairs and is currently serving as
the Deputy Chief Health and Medical Officer.

27 November 2000: NASA Loses Veterans in Science, Public Affairs, NASA PAO

"NASA employees are mourning two colleagues who passed away last week. Brian D. Welch, a veteran public affairs officer for the space agency and NASA's Director of Media Services, died Friday, Nov. 24. The previous Wednesday, Dr. Gerald Soffen, a guiding force in NASA's effort to search for life elsewhere in the Universe, had died at 74. NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin praised both men for the commitment and enthusiasm they brought to NASA."

27 November 2000: Brian Welch, NASA Director of Media Services, Dies, NASA PAO

27 November 2000: Brian Welch has died.

Brian died at 6:19 p.m. Friday night after suffering a heart attack. A NASA memorial will be held in Washington - date is TBD. A service with Brian's family to spread his ashes over a lake near his home will be held in Kentucky on Dec. 9. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Brian's local library (details below).

Information regarding memorial service, donations, flowers, etc.

Editor's personal note: Those of you who have been reading NASA Watch for several years are probably aware of the struggle I had getting press accreditation from NASA. If you are aware of this then you also know that it was Brian Welch who first denied me accreditation. At the time (1997) the use of the Internet as a source of news distribution was still rather new - and I was still somewhat of an undisciplined cyberpest flying by the seat of my pants. NASA didn't quite know how to handle this - ergo neither did Brian. Hell, neither did I.

At that time, Brian referred to what I was doing as being akin to "vanity press". While I often took issue with his characterization, he was, in truth, not far off the mark. Indeed, he more or less hit it right on the nose. I continued to publish NASA Watch and eventually applied for - and received accreditation from NASA. Over the years after my first request was denied, I regularly took Brian's characterization to heart when I saw my ego getting too much in the path of relaying the news. If NASA Watch has improved at all since then, that improvement must owe some credit to Brian Welch.

In the past year or so I got to know Brian much better - once the thorny issue of accreditation had evaporated. Indeed, I think we were both rather surprised to see how many things we both agreed upon, that we shared many of the same frustrations that go with informing the public about what NASA does, and how easily we communicated these things with each other.

webcamOver the course of this summer Brian and I had a number of rather long chats about the Internet and how NASA was trying to stay on top of everything. In particular, Brian was keen on enhancing NASA's use of webcams - something we talked about repeatedly as a result of the live webcam SpaceRef had placed at the Mars Arctic Research Station on Devon Island this past summer. Brian thought our webcam was "cool". Next summer we at SpaceRef hope to have at least one live webcam in operation again on Devon Island. I think it only fitting that one of the cameras will be dedicated to Brian.

Brian left this life far too early. He should have been on the job at NASA years from now watching the first humans walk on Mars. At least a camera bearing his name will watch some of the people trying to figure out how to live, work, and learn there.

A final thought - and a suggestion for Dan Goldin: Brian was deeply involved with the negotiations between NASA and Dreamtime. As such, I would hope that the first HDTV camera to fly in space as part of this partnership would also have his name on it.

Ad Astra, Brian.

26 November 2000: Notes from Jerry Soffen's Memorial Service


"Sunday, Nov 26, 2000

Hampton, VA.

Gerald Soffen, Project Viking Scientist was buried this afternoon at 1 PM at
Parklawn Cemetery on North Armistead Avenue, about a mile from Langley.
About 40 attended -- family, friends, colleagues from Project Viking, and
current colleagues from Goddard. The weather was clear, but cold.
At 2 PM, a reception was held in the library of the Virginia Air & Space
Center. About 60 people attended. Many had not seen each other in years. I expect the attendence would have been higher, but many people were out of town and will not see the papers until Sunday night."

Editor's personal note: Ad astra Jerry.

24 November 2000: NASA Astrobiology Architect, Dr. Gerald Soffen, Dies, NASA PAO

"Soffen will be buried in Hampton, VA. A grave-side ceremony will be held Sunday, Nov. 26 at 1:00 p.m. at the Park Lawn Memorial Park in Hampton. Immediately after the service, a reception will be held at the Virginia Air and Space Center located at Settler's Landing Road in Hampton."

23 November 2000: Astrobiologist and Educator Jerry Soffen has died

Editor's note: I was saddened to learn that Jerry died suddenly last night. I had frequent contact with Jerry over the past years as NASA's Astrobiology program got off the ground. Jerry's passion for the exploration of space was matched only by his passion for educating tomrrow's space explorers. He was a true believer - and will be greatly missed.

4 August 2000: Conduct of Employees, Notice of Waiver Pursuant to Section 207(j)(5), Title 18, United States Code, Federal Register: August 4, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 151)

"SUMMARY: The Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has determined, after consultation with the Director of the Office of Government Ethics,
that it is in the national interest to waive the post-employment restrictions of Section 207, Title 18, United States Code, with respect to the former Deputy Director for Launch and
Payload Processing, at Kennedy Space Center, Loren Shriver."

Editor's note: Wouldn't it be nice if everyone at NASA could get such a waiver, not just former astronaut/senior NASA managers...

4 August 2000: NASA life sciences: An Improvement in Vital Signs, Science, [summary - can be viewed for free once registered. A subscription fee is required for full access.]

"NASA bureaucrats [are putting] the finishing touches on a realignment of the agency's struggling biology effort that should bolster fundamental research and allow scientists to make better use of the [ISS], scheduled to be completed in 2005."

Editor's note: NASA Watch has learned that next Wednesday (9 August) will be the last day on the job for Dr. Joan Vernikos, head of OLMSA's Life Sciences Division at NASA Headquarters.

26 July 2000: Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences Reorganization Approved.

Editor's note: Dan Goldin has approved the OLMSA (Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences) reorganization plan. Under this plan, OLMSA will become an independent enterprise to be called the Office of Fundamental Space Research. As part of the reorganization OLMSA's current Life Sciences Division will split into two divisions. The OLMSA Microgravity Sciences Division will stay as a single unit and will now be known as the Physical Science Research Division.

The current HEDS (Human Exploration and Development of Space) enterprise will continue to exist, but it will now be comprised only of the Office of Space Flight (Code M) with no associated science component. Dr. Kathie Olsen, NASA's Chief Scientist, currently the acting Associate Administrator for OLMSA will serve as acting AA for the new organization. Dr. Julie Swain, currently OLMSA's Acting Deputy Director, will retain her current acting position as well. According to NASA PAO the search is still underway for an individual to head this new organization.

1 August 2000: NASA Watch People Sightings

Editor's note: Several NASA Watch readers have noted that someone looking exactly like American University's Richard Berendzen (frequent NASA advisor and talking head on TV) was sitting directly in front of former President and Mrs. Bush last night at the Republican National Convention. I just saw some tape from last night's activites. It sure does look like him.

Meanwhile, other NASA Watch readers have sighted former JSC Center Director Carolyn Huntoon (and one time White House staffer) walking around NASA HQ. Huntoon is currently serving as Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management at the Department of Energy. When asked what she was doing there (at NASA HQ) she said "signing my time card". It would seem she's still on a NASA billet.

19 July 2000: NASA's Chief Scientist Doing Double Duty as OLMSA AA

According to a spokesperson from NASA Public Affairs, NASA's Chief Scientist, Dr. Kathie Olsen (bio), has been named Acting Associate Administrator for OLMSA and will remain in this position until a permanent replacement has been named. NASA's spokesperson said that "an aggressive search for a permanent candidate is currently underway". NASA's spokesperson was not able to provide a specific date when an announcement of the new AA would be made.

Editor's note: word has it that Julie Swain, M.D. (bio) is the odds on favorite to be the new AA for OLMSA. Kathie Olsen's name is also mentioned as a potential choice. Since Dan Goldin regularly takes an extended vacation in August, this selection should be announced rather soon.

19 May 2000: NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab Head to Retire, Reuters, Yahoo

"Lab spokesman Frank O'Donnell said stone will turn 65 next January. "There is a strong tradition of JPL directors retiring by their 65th year. It is almost unknown for a director to stay beyond that time,'' he said."

12 May 2000: Goldin Shakes Up NASA's Life Sciences Program, Science (Registration fee required for full access)

"Many scientists say that NASA's course in the life sciences has been set over many years by Nicogossian, a physician by training, and his allies George Abbey and Carolyn Huntoon, the current and former heads, respectively, of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "The Abbey-Huntoon-Nicogossian Mafia," says [Dr. Andrew] Gaffney, "ran the program not on the basis of what was the best science. ... Maybe those days are over." Other researchers privately concur with that analysis. Adds one: "Arnauld used a physician's approach--and that approach is not one that has helped the life sciences flourish."

1 May 2000: NASA Creates New Office to Foster Health and Safety, NASA PAO

"Dr. Nicogossian will establish the NASA Health Council to address the Agency's needs and investments in health, including strengthening external interfaces with other health agencies. Similar infrastructure will be established as appropriate at NASA field centers. Dr. Nicogossian will continue to serve in the capacity of Associate Administrator for Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications pending the selection of his replacement. NASA will begin an immediate search to fill the position."

8 May 2000: Kennedy Space Center Rolls Out New Organizational Structure, NASA KSC PAO

"Our main objective is to continue safe and effective support of our operational programs: Space Shuttle, International Space Station (ISS) and
payload processing, and Expendable Launch Vehicle (ELV) Services. At the same time we will strive to improve our ability to focus on spaceport
technology development," said Bridges."

29 February 2000: NASA ranked best place to work in government, Government Executive Magazine

"Donald Teague, president of the NASA Headquarters Professional Association, said reinvention - in the form of downsizing and budget cuts - has hurt morale at the agency. The NASA workforce has declined from 23,696 at the end of 1993 to 17,939 at the end of 1999."

14 February 2000: Shuttle Crew Pays Tribute to Cartoonist Schulz, Reuters, Yahoo

"On the Apollo 10 mission in 1969, the first lunar lander to orbit the moon was named "Snoopy'' and the command module was named "Charlie Brown.'"

Silver Snoopy Award, NASA Headquarters

"Of all the SFA Awards, perhaps the Silver Snoopy best symbolizes the intent and spirit of Space Flight Awareness.This award is presented personally by the astronauts to employees for outstanding performance. Since the Snoopy represents the astronauts' own recognition of excellence, receiving it is a special honor."

10 January 2000: Mal Peterson Admits that NASA has cut too many jobs.

Editor's note: According to a one paragraph story "Staff Shortage Takes Its Toll at NASA Centers" on page 2 of the 10 January 2000 issue of Space News, NASA Comptroller Mal Peterson is quoted as saying "It is apparent that we went too far." Space News goes on to note that NASA will be asking OMB for funds to hire additional workers in 2000.

Contrast this with Mal's comments back in 1996 - I posted the following to the newsgroup on 28 March 1996 just before NASA Watch's predecessor RIF Watch went online in early April 1996.

28 March 1996 Mal Peterson: the value of fear in managing corporate-downsizing

"Mal Peterson (NASA HQ Comptroller's Office) personally briefed NASA program managers (Centers and HQ) yesterday (27 March) and gave instructions for planning and implementing a RIF by Summer 1997, the reduction to be completed by October 1998, to a total complement level of 17,500, as called for by the President for the year 2000, to be completed by 1998.

Vugraphs were shown concerning "the value of fear in managing corporate-downsizing." (That is a direct quote) They have statistics on the number of personnel supposed to be within retirement range and everyone will be encouraged to retire asap, though these numbers will not prevent a RIF. He strongly indicated that congressional backing would be soon forthcoming."

5 January 2000 JSC CIO Jack Garman is after Macs again.

From "Jack Garman at JSC has just recently removed all the Macs from the "refresh list" of computers due to be replaced under ODIN. Garman has decreed any Macs brought in have to be individually approved by him. The ODIN contract concept of seat management charges NASA no difference whether they support/replace Macs or PCs - So Jack's argument of saving money doesn't fly. Add to that the fact the other NASA centers are purchasing new Macs without such hassles."


26 October 2000: Shuttle Main Engine Test Investigation Points to Fuel Cell System Contamination, NASA

"A detailed review of a Space Shuttle Main Engine test mishap, June 16, at NASA's Stennis Space Center, MS, has revealed that special tape was left behind inside the engine during processing, contaminating the system."

26 October 2000: SSME 0523 TEST 902-772
Failure Investigation Final Report
(10MB Adobe Acrobat)

"In accordance with NPG8621.1H, enclosed is the final report of the Board of
Investigation for the subject mishap that occurred on June 16, 2000 at Stennis Space
The report consists of four volumes: (1) the report, (2) appendices, (3) proposed
corrective action implementation plan, and (4) a lessons-learned summary. The principal
findings of the Board, along with recommended actions, were submitted to the SSME
Project Manager on August 10, 2000. These findings and the SSME Project Offices
response to them are provided in Volume I, Section 13, and in Volume III, respectively,
of this report.

Robert L. Sackheim, MSFC, Assistant Director for Space Propulsion"

11 October 2000: NASA Investigation Team Reports on Shuttle Engine Damage During June 2000 Test, SpaceRef

On 16 June 2000, testing of a Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) with a high-pressure fuel turbopump configuration at NASA Stennis Space Center had to be cut short. Higher than expected test temperatures caused the SSME to shut itself down 5 seconds into a planned 200-second test.

In an internal NASA report dated 10 October 2000, the investigation team reports on the damage to the engine.

Editor's note: this story has links to the briefing charts (complete with photos and diagrams) that document the team's findings and recommendations.

8 October 2000: Windsor Locks...We Have a Problem, Hartford Courant

"Frank Guimond and John Steele had been working all that June Sunday on the problem. They'd spent much of the afternoon at Hamilton Sundstrand waiting for a special hex-wrench to be custom-made in Massachusetts and rushed down to Windsor Locks. Now, at about 7 in the evening, Father's Day, they finally began to disassemble the heart of the backup oxygen system of the space suit."

18 September 2000:
Spacelift Washington: Shuttle Upgrades, SLI Dominate NASA Transportation Plans, by Frank Sietzen, Jr.

With more than a half billion in NASA FY 2001 budget dollars set aside for Space Shuttle upgrades, and $290 million more for the Space Launch Initiative (SLI), maintaining the status quo and the quest for its replacement will shape the civil space agency's space transportation direction for much of the next decade. Somewhere in the immediate future the basic launch requirements for NASA-unique payloads and those with a commercial pedigree will have to be defined, if the decisions about how to allocate future resources are to be well structured and definitive.

18 September 2000: STS-106 EMUs to be Reused on STS-92

18 September 2000: XA/EVA Project Office Weekly Activity Report, NASA JSC

"EMU O2 Contamination Recovery Status - Update 9/12

The pace of refurbishment of Secondary Oxygen Packages for future flights and human thermal vacuum runs was temporarily slowed down due to GSE issues at Hamilton
Sundstrand. Compressors in two of the primary test stands were considered to be credible risks as a contamination source. These units were therefore disassembled and
refurbished. This has delayed the cleaning of the next three SOP regulators to be used with the EMUs reserved for STS-92 and EVA Test Article (ETA) chamber runs. To support
flight, plans are currently in place to de-stow the SOPs off of the STS-106 EMUs 24 hours after landing at KSC. Two of the STS-106 SOP units will be re-used for STS-92 and
processed completely at KSC. The next refurbished SOP is due to be on dock at USA by 9/18. This unit will support both ETA chamber runs needed to accept two flight EMUs
and eventually the STS-92 flight as the third SOP."

15 September 2000: Internal NASA JSC email: New Security Surrounds Astronaut Offices at JSC

"Questions have been raised about threats, but the answers have been vague (from "we have more money for security now so we're just using it" to "a couple of laptops have disappeared"). With this latest move (practically sealing 4S off from the building it was intended originally as an annex to), we are all wondering what NASA security is keeping from us."

1 September 2000: NASA deems spacewalking spacesuits safe, Florida Today

"With the launch of shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station a week away, NASA officials are satisfied that the spacesuits to be used on a spacewalk during the 11-day mission are safe. "Everybody is very happy with (the suits)," NASA spokesman James Hartsfield said Thursday from Johnson Space Center in Houston, adding three of the suits have been loaded onto Atlantis."

24 August 2000: XA/EVA Project Office Weekly Activity Report, NASA JSC

"The EMU program has completed cleaning and qualifying three Secondary Oxygen Packages (SOP) for STS-106."

24 August 2000: Columbia has 3,500 defects in wiring, Florida Today

"Examinations of NASA's oldest shuttle have revealed far more wiring problems than expected, a Boeing Co. official said Friday."

4 August 2000: XA/EVA Project Office Weekly Activity Report, NASA JSC

"EMU O2 Contamination Recovery Status

Work is progressing on the cleaning and reassembly of three Secondary Oxygen Package (SOP) assemblies to support the STS-106 mission. To date, the third and final SOP
regulator required for 2A.2b is nearing completion of acceptance testing. The first two SOP regulators have been integrated into the SOP assemblies and acceptance testing is
proceeding. The first SOP assembly has completed several tests to date and is still planned for delivery to USA on 8/15 for flight processing. During the Joint EVA Working
Group held Monday, July 24, 2000, a summary of the Oxygen contamination issue and recovery status was presented to representatives from Energia and Zvevda. Gas and bottle
sampling and analytical assessments are continuing in support of root cause determination. Interim flight rationale, waivers for off-nominal flight processing, and hazard analyses
are nearing completion and will be presented at the EVA CoFR2 on August 7. "

27 July 2000: XA/EVA Project Office Weekly Activity Report, NASA JSC

"EMU O2 Contamination Recovery Status - Update

The first and second of three Secondary Oxygen Package (SOP) regulators were successfully cleaned, rebuilt, tested, and delivered one day early on 7/21 and 7/26, respectively, with the third to follow by 8/2. Cleaning and calibrating of the various ground test stands and implementation of cold trap filters to support the processing of the EMU hardware is currently the critical path and on track. Test stands for processing SOP assemblies at Hamilton Sundstrand were in operation as of 7/25 for flowing nitrogen. Oxygen test stand operation is scheduled for 7/29. Cold trap installation and tests are continuing at USA to bring two SOP stands on line to support SOP processing by early August. In summary, the EMU team remains on schedule to support launch of STS-106 on September 8."

13 July 2000: Widespread spacesuit problem found, MSNBC

"Amid the euphoria over the successful launch of the International Space Station's living quarters, space engineers are feverishly working on a new hardware problem that could delay future shuttle launches unless it's resolved. If the emergency kit had been activated during a spacewalk, the hazard could have set the spacesuit on fire."

14 July 2000: EVA Status for Flight 2A. 2b, 7/14/00, Integration/Operations, page 22, "Felicity Vol 019" ISS Integrated Program Schedule (2.2 MB Adobe Acrobat file)

"Hydrocarbon contamination has been found in primary and secondary
oxygen systems. Plan is to clean secondary system and fly
primary system "as- is." This plan will support 2A. 2b and subsequent flights."

13 July 2000: XA/EVA Project Office Weekly Activity Report 13 July 2000

"EMU O2 Contamination Recovery Status

Since hydrocarbon contamination on a Secondary Oxygen Package (SOP) regulator was first reported on 6/14/00, the EMU and JSC engineering community
have steadfastly embarked on four main branches of recovery efforts. First, a plan for disassembling, cleaning, and rebuilding all SOP systems was put into place.
This plan provides for three SOPs to support the current STS-106 launch date. Currently, Hamilton Sundstrand and Carleton Technology, the regulator vendor,
are on schedule with this effort. Second, the JSC engineering community has recommended operation of the PLSS system as is, based on WSTF testing and
analysis. In addition, samples taken from flight regulators to date suggest negligible contaminants exist in the primary system. Third, clearing use of test stands at
USA and Hamilton Sundstrand is in work. Development and testing of cold traps (filters) should be completed this week, allowing USA to begin processing
Short EMUs for the upcoming flight next week. Finally, JSC Safety is working hand-in-hand with these efforts to understand and relay the risks to other NASA
flight and ground systems.

27 June 2000: USA Names Deputy Program Manager for Florida Operations; Safety, Quality Leadership Also Shifts to Launch Site, press release

"U.S. Navy Admiral (Ret.) William ``Bill'' Pickavance has been named to the new post, effective July 1, 2000, and will be joined by former Shuttle astronaut Andrew
Allen, who will serve as Director, Technical Operations."

23 June 2000: Problem Aborts Space Shuttle Main Engine Firing, Spaceflight Now

"A space shuttle main engine equipped with a next-generation fuel
turbopump was damaged during an aborted test firing last week, NASA
officials said Thursday."

23 June 2000: NASA Forms Team To Review Space Shuttle Main Engine Test Incident, NASA PAO

Editor's note: we have received a report that internal descriptions of the damage describe it as the worse damage seen without the engine actually coming apart. The fuel pump and preburner turbine were found in bits and pieces and the turbine blades were loose."

26 April 2000: Ever wonder how Mission Control picks the "MVP" after each Shuttle mission?

From "Hanging The Mission Plaque", NASA JSC:

"The Mission Plaque is hung in Mission Control following landing and crew egress for each Space Shuttle flight. The individual or team, having made the most significant contribution to the success of the flight is selected to hang the plaque. The following teams/people have been so honored during the Shuttle program."

26 April 2000: Ever wonder why the folks on the consoles at Mission Control talk the way they do?

From "Stone Tablets of Flight Controller Operations", NASA JSC:

"XII. Flight note and/or vocal actions should include what you want done, by when, and why. When vocalizing this the preferred order is to report what has happened followed by the action required within some time frame. For example: "


21 April 2000: How NASA tracks and fixes problems.

Editor's note: With all of the recent attention given to safety, mission failures, etc. at NASA (i.e where NASA has made mistakes), attention is rarely given to how NASA goes about doing the remainder of its intricate job on a daily basis - successfully. Countless engineering problems are identified, studied, and rectified - yet no one ever hears about this. Certainly not in the press. Having worked at NASA myself, and seen similar detailed engineering presentations on a daily basis, I felt it important to show the considerable detail people at NASA go to understand problems so as to prevent them from happening again.

This is rocket science.

20 April 2000: Rudder / Speed Brake PDU 0403 / HVM 006 Investigation, presentation to Space Shuttle Program management at NASA JSC[Power Point473K file] [HTML]

18 April 2000: STS-101 PDU Status (internal NASA email)

"The latest on the PDU problem is that it has been confirmed that hydraulic
fluid had migrated behind the stop, which caused it to get pushed out, and
would not let the power spool push it back in. This may have been caused
by damage created during initial assembly, since there is some damage in
an area of about 170 degrees of the circumference of the stop. This was
observable after disassembly and cleanup. This damage may have created
the path by which the fluid got behind the stop."

18 April 2000: SR1262: OV-104 Rudder Speedbrake PDU Investigation, PCRB presentation [HTML] [ Adobe Acrobat 384K]

Editor's note: this PCRB presentation contains 7 charts that explain the failure investigation in great detail - including how a spool within Shuttle Orbiter OV104's Speed Brake PDU (Power Drive Unit) failed.

18 April 2000: Failure probe, tight schedule only concerns for Atlantis, Spaceflight Now

"NASA says it remains optimistic space shuttle Atlantis will make its
appointed launch date next Monday despite a continuing investigation
into the failure of a hydraulics unit taken from the ship and a tight
work schedule that has no room for more problems."

18 April 2000: NASA gives Atlantis green light for April 24 launch, Florida Today

"After a weekend of successful work, NASA is on track to start the countdown
Friday for shuttle Atlantis' flight next week to the International Space Station. Officials said Monday that some newly replaced parts worked fine during weekend testing. The ship is set to fly at 4:15 p.m. April 24 from Kennedy Space Center. "

17 April 2000: STS-101 PDU Problem Identified (internal NASA email with photo and 3 briefing charts)

"As of Friday evening, Moog (the hydraulic valve motor (HMV) manufacturer)
had disassembled the power drive unit (PDU) from OV104 and identified the
source of the problem as unseating of the spool stop. This was the
failure mode [first] identified by the PRT as one possible explanation of the
problem (excellent detective work on their part!). The spool stop had
move out of position by about 0.050 inches and was interfering with power
spool motion. This is shown in the photograph below where the failed
spool stop is pictured on the left and a normal spool stop is pictured on
the right."

17 April 2000: Space Shuttle Status Report, NASA KSC

"Over the weekend, Shuttle engineers completed the frequency response test that was required after the rudder/speed brake power drive unit
replacement effort. Preliminary evaluation indicates that Shuttle Atlantis' hydraulic system is operating normally and that the PDU replacement was a success. Shuttle
engineers continue to analyze the cause of the initial PDU failure to ensure that it was an isolated incident. "

13 April 2000: STS-101/OV-104 Update (2 internal NASA emails)

"As you can see, there is a lot going on at the pad but the KSC folks are
still working hard to hold the launch date."

"The OV102 PDU has been installed in OV104 and is undergoing testing. An
APU hotfire is scheduled for Sunday."

11 April 2000: Internal NASA email regarding 104 Rudder/Speedbrake PDU Replacement

"As currently planned, the changeout will have no affect on the current launch date (4/24). The noon chair made it clear that if KSC needs more time, for any reason, they are to take it."

10 April 2000:
SR1206: OV-104 Speedbrake High Secondary Pressures Observed During Frequency Response Test, Daily PRCB

[Power Point file - 1.1 MB] [HTML presentation - much smaller; lower resolution]


During STS-101 Frequency Response Test (FRT), All Four Speedbrake Secondary Delta Pressures Were Unusually High in the Positive Polarity


Anomalous Signatures Could Be Indicative of A Mechanical Obstruction in the Power Valve Resulting in Loss of Control of Speedbrake


Remove OV-104 Rudder/Speed Brake PDU and Replace with Unit Removed from OV-102."

8 April 2000: Atlantis to get replacement part from Columbia, Florida Today

6 April 2000: NASA mulls hydraulic problem on shuttle Atlantis, Spaceflight Now

7 April 2000: SB/RUD Noon Board Meeting notes (internal NASA email)

"Here is a quick summary of today's Noon Board meeting discussion of the
SB/RUD PDU issue. It was decided to proceed with removal of the OV102 PDU
as a possible replacement for the unit on OV104. This decision was made
to preserve launch opportunity options but there are still many open issue
which will be discussed before the PDU on OV104 is removed and a commit to
launch is given."

7 April 2000: STS-101 rudder/speedbrake power drive unit (PDU) problems (internal NASA email)

"The program has decided that the PDU must be removed and replaced
prior to flight. There is a sizable contingent of folks working the
removal options. The current plan is to remove the PDU at the pad and
replace it with the PDU off of OV-102 (currently at Palmdale for OMDP)."

29 March 2000: Tommy Gram #4, internal NASA email from Tommy Holloway to senior ISS staff

"A recent GAO report along with questions from Congress and several news
articles have suggested we are lowering safety standards to accommodate theRussians and implied that safety issues will prevent the planned July
launch of the Service Module (Zvezda)... In short, Russian hardware goes through the same safety process as NASA hardware. Let me deal with the noted "Russian safety" areas as follows: ...

10 March 2000: Thiokol's boosters criticized, Deseret News

"Questionable quality control in a Utah company making solid rocket fuel for the space shuttle booster rockets may have been a "major potential risk area," concludes an independent technical review ordered by NASA. But more frequent test firings, ordered recently, might be part of the solution."

10 March 2000: NASA Says Shuttle Cuts Have Led to Higher Risk - But Study Finds Program Is Still Safe, Knight Ridder, Washington Post

"They seem to make the same mistakes over and over again," said Bob Hotz, who was on the presidential commission that investigated the 1986 Challenger accident that claimed seven lives. "It's a generic road to failure. Finally, you're getting down to where we were with Challenger. They didn't have any quality control. There are outside pressures that cause this."

Donna Shirley, who oversaw NASA's Mars exploration program and is now assistant dean of engineering at the University of Oklahoma, said part of the problem is that private space contractors keen to cut their costs were relying on inexperienced workers with insufficient oversight."

9 March 2000: Cutbacks threaten shuttle safety, space experts tell NASA, Houston Chronicle

"The panel concluded that as NASA trimmed its shuttle costs, it lost too many experienced personnel, creating a potential morale problem as those who remain behind tried to keep up with NASA's flight expectations. "

10 March 2000: Panel: Cost-cutting endangers shuttle, Huntsville Times

"Stressed-out space shuttle workers. Too few NASA inspectors. Overly optimistic risk assessments. A contractor struggling to increase profits while maintaining safety. That potential recipe for disaster and a litany of other problems were detailed in a blistering independent review of the shuttle program released Thursday by NASA."

10 March 2000: Report: KSC workforce at dangerous level prior to troubled Columbia liftoff, Florida Today

"Safety continues to be USA's top priority, and we will continue to pursue every opportunity to improve the status quo,'' Russell D. Turner, USA's president and chief executive officer, wrote in a letter issued to employees Thursday. "

10 March 2000: Panel: Cuts Threaten Shuttle Safety, AP, Yahoo

"Joe Rothenberg, NASA's associate administrator for spaceflight, told the Houston Chronicle that steps already were under way to bolster NASA's safety
oversight by adding 800 new workers over the next two years."

9 March 2000: NASA Releases Space Shuttle Independent Assessment Team Report

"Statement of Mr. Joseph H. Rothenberg Associate Administrator for Space Flight: As the result of ascent anomalies experienced on STS-93, I asked Dr. Henry McDonald (Center Director, Ames Research Center), on September 7, 1999, to
lead an independent technical team to review the Space Shuttle systems and maintenance practices. The team, comprised of NASA, contractor, and DOD
personnel, looked at NASA practices, Space Shuttle anomalies, and civilian and military aeronautical experience. My goal for this study was to bring to Space
Shuttle maintenance and operations processes a perspective from the best practices of the external aviation community, and where applicable/appropriate, apply these practices to the Space Shuttle. "

  • Full report (Warning 8.5 MB Acrobat file)

  • Executive Summary, Space Shuttle Independent Assessment team, Report to Associate Administrator, Office of Space Flight

  • Recommendations: Space Shuttle Independent Assessment team, Report

  • to Associate Administrator, Office of Space Flight Flight

18 February 2000: Crews Names to Continue Space Station Assembly, NASA press release

Editor's note: NASA is now confirming what we've been posting on NASA Watch for a week or so.

17 February 2000: New Space Shuttle launch dates baselined and crews named.

Editor's note: These dates are the result of S042013BK: "RE-BASELINE ISS LAUNCH DATES", dispositioned at the CRG on 16 Feb 2000.

The internal working date for STS-106 (2A.2b) is 18 Aug 2000 even though other schedules still show a mid-July 2000 date. ISS planning calls for a launch of STS-106 no sooner than 35 days after a successful Service Module launch. Russia has set a 8-14 July launch window for the Service Module which would therefore lead to a STS-106 launch in mid-August.

Meanwhile, NASA JSC has generated new crew assignments for the 2A.2a and 2A.2b missions. Ed Lu has been reassigned to the STS-106 (2A.2b) mission. Scott Horowitz will now be the backup EVA crew member for STS-101 (2A.2a). Yuriy Usachev has been added to STS-101 which also includes Jim Voss and Susan Helms plus previous crew members Halsell, Horowitz, Weber, and Williams. Voss, Helms, and Usachev now comprise the Expedition 2 crew.

16 February 2000: International Space Station Schedules Review, February 4, 2000, DSSICB is now online

Editor's note: This is a 1.8 Mb Adobe Acrobat file. This presentation provides a snapshot of where the ISS program is right now. Note that flight 2A.2a is listed as STS-101 with a 13 April 2000 launch date and 2A.2b is listed as STS-106 with a launch date somewhere in the middle of July 2000.

11 February 2000: Key space station launch rescheduled, MSNBC

"After a not-so-veiled threat from NASA's
administrator, the Russians have agreed to schedule the launch
of a key part of the International Space Station for mid-July, the
space agency announced Friday. However, the Itar-Tass news
agency quoted a space official as indicating that the crucial
launch could still slip into August."

11 February 2000: NASA reshuffles missions as Russia delays space station work, UPI

"UPI has learned that one Russian request in particular may outrage the
American side. After learning of the potential split of this shuttle mission
into two flights, the Russians have asked to transfer a ton of their space
supplies to the shuttle so they can use another supply ship for Mir instead
of the international project. That supply ship was largely constructed using
NASA funds."

Editor's note: word has it from Jim Oberg that "the STS-101 crew will consist of Halsell, Horowitz, Weber, Williams, Jim Voss and Helms -- Lu and the two Russians, Morukov and Malenchenko, have been pulled. STS-106's crew will be Wilcutt, Altman, Lu, Mastracchio, Burbank, Morukov, and Malenchenko. If the SM fails to dock and ICM must be launched, STS-106 will switch from 2A.2B to 2A.3, and will fly the ICM mission, with the same crew, minus the Russians.

04 February 2000: Crew assignment changes

Editor's note: NASA JSC has generated new crew assignments for the 2A.2a and 2A.2b missions. Ed Lu has been reassigned to the 2A.2b mission to fly in July 2000. Scott Horowitz will now be the backup EVA crew member for STS-101 (2A.2a).

01 February 2000: NASA hasn't launched shuttle on time since John Glenn's flight, Florida Today

"NASA has not launched a space shuttle on time since John Glenn's heralded return to orbit aboard Discovery in October 1998. "

12 January 2000: Rockwell, Boeing allegedly hid fraud against NASA, Reuters, Yahoo

"The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, alleges that the U.S. space agency was billed for millions of dollars in fraudulent costs by a company called Omniplan, hired by Rockwell to work on the programs between 1986 and 1993."

12 January 2000: Cos. Accused of Space Shuttle Fraud, AP, Yahoo

"Omniplan also included as allowable expenses the purchases of personal houses, a ski lodge, expensive jewelry and personal vacations to exotic locales
including Nepal, Singapore and Argentina, the suit said. In 1995 the owner of Omniplan, Ralph Montijo, pleaded guilty to about 180 felony fraud violations."

11 January 2000: United Space Alliance is expecting the Justice Department to file a lawsuit.

Date: January 11, 2000 Internal Letter No. RDT-100-00

To: All USA Employees

In the coming days, the Department of Justice is expected to issue public notice
of a suit being filed in federal court naming The Boeing Company, Boeing North
American, Inc., Rockwell Space Operations Company and United Space
Alliance, alleging violations of the Civil False Claims Act and breach of contract.

I feel it is important that, before this news breaks publicly, you have the relevant facts.

The allegations made in the suit arise from the illegal actions of a subcontractor
to Rockwell Space Operations Company under the Space Operations Contract
(SOC) in 1993. We believe USA is being named as a defendant as a result of
some confusion over corporate identities stemming from the novation of the SOC
to USA in 1996. USA has not been involved in any of the alleged illegal activities.

We also understand that the statute of limitations for filing on this case expires on
January 12, which may have precipitated this action at this time.

Regardless of how this action may be reported by the news media, you can be
confident that this company has not engaged in any of the illegal actions alleged
to have been committed in the complaint. Our focus, as always, will stay on the
primary business at hand - flying safely and successfully.


Russell D. Turner

President and Chief Executive Officer

"USA Talking Points", United Space Alliance has been circulating this document in advance of news breaking on the Department of Justice lawsuit.

An image of the actual letter.



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