Earlier 2004 Entries



June 2004: Beyond the Widget: Columbia Accident Lessons Affirmed, Brig Gen Duane W. Deal, USAF, Air & Space Power

"The lessons gleaned from these and other prominent accidents and disasters, management and leadership primers, and raw experience are the same lessons that should have prevented the Columbia accident. The saddest part is that some in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had simply not absorbed, or had forgotten, these lessons; the result was the deaths of seven astronauts and two helicopter search team members, as well as the intense scrutiny of a formerly exalted agency."




11 May 2004: NASA to Name Supercomputer after Columbia Astronaut Kalpana Chawla

"NASA will dedicate a new supercomputer this week to honor the memory of astronaut Kalpana "KC" Chawla, one of the seven crew members aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, lost Feb. 1, 2003. The dedication ceremony will be held May 12 at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif."




25 April 2004: Correction/Amplification Regarding Dover Casket Photos, The Memory Hole

"Among the 361 Dover casket photos are a minority of images showing coffins of the Columbia astronauts. I didn't realize this at the time that I posted them, mainly because when the Air Force asked for clarification during the process, I specifically told them that I wasn't requesting photos of the Columbia astronauts, only military personnel killed overseas."

"(Not that I have anything against astronauts. One of the tricks for writing successful Freedom of Information Act requests is to make your request as narrow as possible. I was afraid that including the astronauts in the request would give the Air Force another excuse not to release the photos. As in: "Well, since you want the astronaut photos, we're going to have to clear that with more federal agencies.....") I've since been told by a reporter that NASA released the astronaut casket photos at the time and has never objected to their use. Quite a marked difference from the battlefield dead, who are swept under the rug by the Pentagon."

23 April 2004: NASA: Columbia Crew Mistakenly Identified as Iraqi War Dead, NASA HQ

23 April 2004: DOD Misidentifies Photos of Columbia Crew Remains Ariving at Dover AFB as Being Iraq War Dead, SpaceRef

"If you look at the originating website for the controversial photos of war dead being returned from Iraq (loads very slow), you will see that most of the first page of photos are of Space Shuttle Columbia crew remains arriving at Dover Air Force Base on 5 February 2003. You see, that is Deputy NASA Administrator Fred Gregory in the light brown slacks and dark jacket standing to the left of the honor guard."

23 April 2004: Columbia Crew Coffins Mistaken for Caskets of U.S. Military Casualties, Space.com

"It is a story that will have journalism professors, conspiracy theorists and free speech advocates confused, amused and most likely up-in-arms until the next media scandal appears."

23 April 2004: Space-shuttle victims misidentified as Iraq dead in some photos, Delawareonline.com


24 April 2004: Columbia crew remains mistaken for war dead, Florida Today

"Keith Cowing, who runs NASA Watch, a private Web site that follows developments at the space agency, said he detected the mistake and called it to NASA's attention. NASA officials said CNN was one of "many" news outlets that misidentified photos of caskets containing remains of the Columbia astronauts."

23 April 2004: Photos included images of shuttle astronauts' coffins, Orlando Sentinel

"Among the Columbia crewmembers, only mission specialist Kalpana Chawla had not served in the military. Commander Rick Husband and payload commander Michael Anderson were in the Air Force; pilot Willie McCool and mission specialists David Brown and Laurel Clark were in the Navy; and Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon was in his country's air force. But the astronauts were brought to Dover because of their association with NASA, as were the seven members of the Challenger crew, in 1986."

24 April 2004: Bush Criticizes the Release of Photos of Soldier Coffins, NY Times

"In their eagerness to take advantage of the first photographs of American war dead from Iraq returning to Dover, several news organizations broadcast or published images of coffins that actually contained the remains of astronauts killed in the breakup of the Columbia space shuttle, NASA said Friday. Among the news organizations that used the incorrect photographs were CNN, The Associated Press, Reuters and The Washington Post. "This was an obvious case of mistaken identity," said Bob Jacobs, a NASA spokesman."

23 April 2004: Washington Post prints Columbia photo in Iraq War dead coffin story

Editor's note: The Washington Post has printed a photo on page A10 of Deputy Administrator Fred Gregory on the tarmac at Dover AFB with the caption "About 350 photos of coffins at Dover Air Force Base were released under the Freedom of Information Act". No one in the photo is identified - nor is the date of the photo or the event noted. Update: the Post printed a correction on 24 April.

Editor's note: Reuters also distributed a photo (correction posted) of the Columbia crew remains without identifying it as such - instead captioning it as "Coffins of U.S. military personnel are offloaded by Air Force honor guards at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware in this undated photo." Reuters has since posted an article at 7:00 pm EDT which focuses on the error.

Editor's note: AP has a screen grab of the first page of photos - all of which are of Columbia crew remains. AP titles the image as "A page from the Memory Hole.org's homepage shows photographs of American war dead arriving at Dover Air Force, the nation's largest military mortuary, Thursday, April 22, 2004." Curiously AP has an article up which they posted at 4:50 pm EDT today and then revised at 8:30 pm which now mentions their own error.


Editor's note: As of 5:00 pm EDT yesterday CNN Headline news was flashing several pictures of NASA Deputy Administrator Fred Gregory standing on the tarmac receiving the bodies of the Columbia crew at Dover Air Force Base in February 2003 and claiming that the photos are of caskets containing war dead arriving home from Iraq in 2004. NASA and CNN are aware of this and I expect that the photos in question won't be running again. Apparently the original FOIA request was filed for all images of coffins at Dover between February 2003 and the present and apparently these Columbia images were included.




15 March 2004: Families of Columbia astronauts arrive in Israel for emotional visit, Israel Insider

"The families of the six American NASA astronauts who died in the Columbia space shuttle tragedy last year arrived in Israel yesterday, and were greeted at the airport by Rona Ramon, widow of Israeli crew member, Ilan Ramon."




2 February 2004: Remarks by Sean O'Keefe, STS-107 Crew Memorial Ceremony, Arlington National Cemetery

"Generations from now, when the reach of human civilization is extended throughout the solar system, people will still come to this place to learn about and pay their respects to our heroic Columbia astronauts. They will look at the astronauts' memorial and then they will turn their gaze to the skies, their hearts filled with gratitude for these seven brave explorers who helped blaze our trail to the stars."

20 July 2003: Keith Cowing's Devon Island Journal: Arctic Memorials and Starship Yearnings

"Our task was a somewhat solemn one. We were here to erect a memorial to Columbia astronaut Michael Anderson. The memorials take the form of an inukshuk, a stone sculpture in rough human form used by the Inuit to mark territory. Given the sheer mass of the structure, and the slow manner with which things change here, this inukshuk may well be standing 500 years from now. That should be long enough. Maybe someone serving on a starship will think to visit it."

2 February 2004: Lampson Leads Floor Tribute to Columbia Crew

"The crew of STS-107 would not want us to dwell only on their deaths. Instead, I believe that they would want us to reflect on the cause for which they gave their lives: the exploration of space. And I have no doubt that they would want us to rededicate ourselves to the task of ensuring that this nation continues that exploration."

2 February 2004: H. RES. 507 Expressing sorrow of the House of Representatives on the anniversary of the accident of the Space Shuttle Columbia

"Resolved, That the House of Representatives does offer its gratitude to the seven Space Shuttle Columbia astronauts and its heartfelt sympathy to their families on the anniversary of their loss, with the reassurance that this sacrifice will not have been made in vain, but will strengthen this Nation's resolve to continue their journey of discovery."


2 February 2004: STS-107 Columbia Memorial Dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery

2 February 2004: NASA Dedicates Mars Landmarks to Columbia Crew

2 February 2004: Columbia Memorial Dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery

28 January 2004: NASA Dedicates Columbia Memorial


28 January 2004: Space Shuttle Challenger Crew Memorialized on Mars


27 January 2004: Martian Landmarks Dedicated to Apollo 1 Crew


6 January 2004: NASA Memorializes Space Shuttle Columbia Crew on Mars



1 February 2004: Columbia +365, SpaceRef

"One year ago today, Space Shuttle Columbia began to return home after a successful 16 day Mission.

It would never arrive.

Within minutes of entering the uppermost regions of Earth's atmosphere, Columbia began to disintegrate. As it sped through the edge of space pieces began to shower down across Texas and Louisiana. Thousands of eyes watched from backyards. Millions watched on TV as Columbia broke into pieces.

Just as Columbia ceased to exist, in the days and weeks following this tragedy, many soon began to fear that America's space program would suffer much the same fate."



31 January 2004: NASA Sources Sought Notice: International Space Station Organizational Behavior Analysis

"The International Space Station Program Office is seeking information from private firms and research institutions that could support a comprehensive assessment and documentation of organizational behavior within the program office located at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas."

Editor's note: They should be looking at behavior other centers as well. Much to my surprise I actually got the following email from someone@larc.nasa.gov today:

"I would be curious to see how other NASA employees felt about the NASA spectacle before the Super Bowl. Personally, I thought it was way over the top for cheeziness. A group of us watching the game were about ready to throw up. Wonder how much tax money went into that PR extravaganza. How many times is NASA going to evoke the memory of dead astronauts? I have long stopped thinking they are doing it out of any respect for the families. Too many other good people die every day and these people hardly qualify for sainthood."

Editor's note: I just got this response: "Mr. Cowing, Saw you posted my view from my office at LaRC. I don't mind that but your implication that somehow I need my attitiude adjusted was rather insulting. NASA technical people do a lot of great things but the NASA PR machine is a beast that drives way too much of the Agency's thinking. I do appreciate the anonymity you maintain as LaRC managers would likely want my head for my comments (if they are not reading e-mail that goes to your site). Trying to still enjoy your site but I am finding a serious slant toward man in space to make me concerned about its objectivity. Nothing personal."

To which I replied: "If I were you I'd read Dr. Clark's comments - and then take the buyout. NASA would be far better off without you."



31 January 2004: Strangers linked by Columbia tragedy, AP

"Virtually everyone inside and outside the space program acknowledges that the Columbia tragedy, along with the investigation board's condemnation of the lack of a national space vision, spurred President Bush into aiming for the moon. "I would really love that to happen," [Jon] Clark says. "But I can tell you that it can't happen without NASA fundamentally changing."




29 January 2004: NASA won't bury memory of Columbia failure, Houston Chronicle

"NASA, which has buried its debris in the past, plans to keep the 84,000 pieces for future research and, more importantly, to serve as a grim reminder of the high cost of the space agency's mistakes."





29 January 2004: At Memorial, NASA Chief Reflects on Fatal Errors, AP

"But Jon Clark, a NASA neurologist who lost his wife, Laurel Blair Salton Clark, aboard Columbia, is among those dissatisfied with the progress one year later. He says he sees and hears enough to know that resistance persists in NASA. "The people who don't . . . see themselves in the report and see ways they can improve things, they're the ones who need to go," Clark says. "In other words, they embrace change, but it's changing somebody else, not them."



29 January 2004: Super Sunday To Be Bittersweet For NASA Astronauts, WRAL

"As part of the Super Bowl show, musician Josh Grobin will sing a song in tribute to the astronauts. Military planes also will fly over Reliant Stadium in the "Missing Man" formation."



28 January 2004: Opportunity Site Dedication

Editor's note: Sean O'Keefe, speaking in a Senate hearing, said that the Opportunity landing site will be dedicated to the Challenger crew later today.




29 January 2004: A year after shuttle tragedy, NASA aims higher, CNN

"By the end of the summer, Cowing said, the plan was in full motion. The seeds of the plan -- the ideas that led to it -- started germinating in the decade before the Columbia disaster. "It wasn't a shortage of ideas. You could walk through NASA with double-sided sticky tape and wait 30 seconds and you've got 15 new ideas, or notions of where we should go," Cowing said."



28 January 2004: "Adjusting Our Thinking" - Letter from Wayne Hale to the Space Shuttle Team

"Last year we dropped the torch through our complacency, our arrogance, self-assurance, shear stupidity, and through continuing attempt to please everyone. Seven of our friends and colleagues paid the ultimate price for our failure."

"As you consider continuing in this program, or any other high risk program, weigh the cost. You, too, could be convicted in the court of your conscience if you are ever party to cutting corners, believing something life and death is not your responsibility, or simply not paying attention. The penalty is heavy, you can never completely repay it."


28 January 2004: Shuttle manager reflects on mistakes, Jim Oberg, MSNBC

"Marking the first anniversary of the loss of the shuttle Columbia and its seven astronauts, a newly promoted NASA shuttle official has called on all space workers to adjust their thinking in preparation for resuming shuttle missions and going beyond them to meet the new goals recently set by the White House. And in a break with past NASA practices, he explicitly listed the mistakes he personally made that contributed to last year's disaster."

28 January 2004: A year after Columbia, weaknesses remain at NASA, Op Ed, Alcestis "Cooky" Oberg , USA Today

"Today, the people whose responsibility it was to prevent the Columbia disaster have shown little desire to change. Just the opposite has occurred: Prior to the release of the CAIB report this summer, one arrogant headquarters leader told NASA workers to ignore the "outside" criticism because it came from "timid souls." The engineers who had warned about NASA's safety culture prior to Columbia's demise still are locked out of the process of revitalizing the space agency."

22 January 2004: Note to USA employees regarding performance fee decision, USA

"In the letter notifying USA of the fee decision, NASA also chose to highlight our accomplishments, stating, it is important to NASA to give due regard to United Space Alliance's successes during the period, notwithstanding the loss of Columbia. NASA has agreed that suitable acknowledgement of the company's accomplishments is an important tool for communicating to the United Space Alliance workforce that NASA values their contributions to date, and trusts and anticipates that they will perform well in the future."

Editor's note: Wow. What a spin. I wonder how many USA PAO hacks had a hand in writing this. You'd think NASA just gave them a bonus!!! Indeed, this really strikes me as collective denial on the part of USA senior management.

22 January 2004: NASA docks contractor $45.2 million for Columbia, USA Today

"NASA penalized the contractor that maintains and operates the space shuttle fleet $45.2 million for its role in the shuttle Columbia accident, according to a letter NASA released Thursday."



22 January 2004: NASA docks contractor $45.2 million for Columbia, USA Today

"But a letter from a NASA official said the contractor was "an integral member" of the "team that reached flawed conclusions about the relative safety of Columbia and crew before and during the flight." The letter from NASA deputy associate administrator Michael Kostelnik was sent Jan. 7 to United Space Alliance president Michael McCulley, a former astronaut."




5 January 2004: NASA Langley staff gets bonuses for Columbia work - FOIA request prompts agency to release details of August awards, Daily Press

"The bonuses were given in August, but NASA did not release details until recently in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Daily Press. One employee received a top bonus of $10,000, but NASA officials would not name the employee. Langley's Freedom of Information Act officer said NASA's legal department would challenge whether employee bonuses are public information."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on June 4, 2004 12:23 AM.

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