Columbia Report Telecon Notes

NASA Report Reviews Crew Safety Measures During Columbia Accident, Recommends Improvements

"A media teleconference will be held at 3 p.m. CST Tuesday to discuss the report. To participate, reporters must contact NASA's Johnson Space Center newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than 2 p.m. Space may be limited. Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at:"


After the CAIB, Bill Parsons and Wayne Hale were informed that a lot of information was available that could be used to improve crew survival on future spacecraft. They asked a team to develop an NTSB-like report in this regard.

Report took as long as it needed to. Recommendations cover a broad array of subjects. Hale calls upon spacecraft designers around the world to read this report and implement its findings.

The accident was ultimately not survivable.

Why did report take so long to come out? Hale: we did not set an arbitrary timeline. We wanted to make sure to get a thorough report.

Melroy: Have had seat design discussions with Orion. They have embraced findings of the report - working toward a better suit/seat design that is better integrated with the spacecraft.

Hale: Team started work in Fall of 2004. This is the last word on this.

Melroy: Learning the lessons of Columbia was a way for all of us to work through our grief. That was something that NASA is really good at - wringing every piece of data out of things that we do - right and wrong. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done - technically and emotionally - I felt that we needed to make all of the knowledge available. That was very important.

Hale: crew reaction - very brief time to react. Learned form switch actions that the crew was trying very hard to work things. Melroy: this shows that crew was relying on their training to recover the vehicle. They showed remarkable system knowledge and problem resolution techniques even thought it was impossible for them to know that this was not going to be possible.

Crew Office Rep: The families were notified about the investigation. When we were nearing completion they were given copies of the report so that they would know what was going to be released.

Hale: Inertial reels on seats did not behave as we would have wanted them to on Columbia. We have improved them such that less severe accidents could be survivable.

Hale: People who had video camera recordings provided a vital part of investigation. The fact that people allowed us to use their material provided a huge input in the early stages when we did not really understand what had happened. In the future we know that there is a network of amateur astronomers - people interested in tracking satellites. We have made number of contacts with those people. Should we have to call on those resources we can do so faster.

Nigel: The video became important after we lost telemetry from the vehicle.

Melroy: the report was just completed this month. Out of respect to the families - and at their request released the report after Christmas - but while children were home and not at school - so that they could discuss the report with some privacy.

Hale: closure is not the word I would use. Space flight requires eternal vigilance. Not a day goes by that I do not think about Challenger and Columbia crews. I knew all of these people. We know that this is a risky business and that accidents can happen. Our goal here is to prevent accidents in the future.

Hale: We are still in the longboat stage of exploration. We have a long way to go until we can design spacecraft that are as safe as commercial aircaft. You need to learn lessons of the past and apply them and improve with incremental ways with every new design.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on December 30, 2008 3:50 PM.

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