Recently in Columbia Category

Last Thursday on 27 January, 2022 NASA marked its Day of Remembrance. A time that is set aside to remember those astronauts who died in the line of duty.

On this episode of the Terranauts podcast I talk with Helene and Chris Hadfield about the Day of Remembrance, about their memories of some of the crew who did not make it home from space. We also talk about what remembering means to them and about how we do and should pay appropriate tribute to the crew that have lost their lives and to their families who sacrificed their loved ones in the pursuit of Humanity's journey off the planet.

Listen in. A SpaceQ podcast.

From 2011: Scott Parazynski, Chairman of the Challenger Center Board of Directors sitting in the jetstream on the summit of Mt. Everest, May 2009: "I tied off a pair of flags I'd made to honor astronauts and cosmonauts who had perished in the line of duty (Apollo 1, Challenger, Columbia, Soyuz 1 and Soyuz 11), as I could think of no finer place on Earth to hang them. In the coming days, weeks, months and years, like their Tibetan prayer flag counterparts, they will weather under the wind, sun and snow, and slowly lift back up into the heavens." More photos.


NASA Pays Tribute to Fallen Heroes with Day of Remembrance

"Various NASA centers also will hold observances for NASA Day of Remembrance. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this year's events across the agency will be limited to invited guests and closed to media."

Keith's note: Like many other people in the DC area I have been going to these Arlington memorial events as often as I could for more than 30 years - especially when I served on the board of directors of the Challenger Center For Space Science Education. This event is held in a huge public outdoor place but NASA now uses COVID as an excuse to limit attendance. Anyone who has been there knows that this is a vast open space. This really sad.

Keith's update: I heard from a back channel at NASA PAO that the Arlington National Cemetery event starts at 1:00 pm and that the public can attend. But media have to get clearance. That's not going to happen. There will be no bus from NASA HQ so a car pass (impossible to get) will be needed to drive in. I could just walk in - except the last time I did that several years ago the cemetery cops stopped me and detained me for 30 minutes claiming that the NASA memorial event was a "private" memorial event and that I needed an actual invitation and car pass to proceed. Last year I made a formal request to NASA to attend and was told quite clearly that I could not attend. This badly worded media release demonstrates the lack of transparency that Wayne Hale was talking about at the NAC meeting a week or so ago. Why bother to put a press release out that is accurate and not misleading.

Keith's update: NASA just released this statement. After decades of holding an event at Arlington National Cemetery, NASA will not allow the public or media to attend the event at this large, outdoor public location due to COVID concerns.

NASA Pays Tribute to Fallen Heroes with Day of Remembrance

"Jurczyk will lead an observance at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, which will begin with a traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, followed by observances for the Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia crews. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this year's event will be limited to invited guests and closed to media."

Columbia: Thinking Back - Looking Ahead, Excerpt from "New Moon Rising", by Frank Sietzen, Jr. and Keith Cowing

"At the end of the event, Rona Ramon, Ilan's widow, spoke last. Steeling her emotions with grace and clarity, she spoke elegantly and briefly. She thanked all for coming. And then she talked of her husband, and the flight of the lost shuttle. "Our mission in space is not over" she told the hushed audience. "He was the first Israeli in space -- that means there will be more." July 2003: Arctic Memorials and Starship Yearnings, SpaceRef

"Our task was a somewhat solemn one. We were here to erect a memorial to Columbia astronaut Michael Anderson. Two memorials have already been erected by members of the HMP Team. The memorials take the form of an inukshuk, a stone sculpture in rough human form used by the Inuit to mark territory. These stone structures serve as reference points for those who traverse this desolate place. As we establish these memorial inukshuks, we do so for the very same reason the Inuit do: to aid in future exploration - in this case, of Devon Island. As such, these memorials will show the way for future explorers."

Scott Parazynski: Still on Cloud 10 (on the summit of Mt. Everest), SpaceRef

"I tied off a pair of flags I'd made to honor astronauts and cosmonauts who had perished in the line of duty (Apollo 1, Challenger, Columbia, Soyuz 1 and Soyuz 11), as I could think of no finer place on Earth to hang them. In the coming days, weeks, months and years, like their Tibetan prayer flag counterparts, they will weather under the wind, sun and snow, and slowly lift back up into the heavens."

Apollo 1 - 27 January 1967
Soyuz 1 - 23 April 1967
Soyuz 11 - 29 June 1971
Challenger - 28 January 1986
Columbia - 1 February 2003

Keith's note: Last week I asked NASA HQ Public Affairs about the annual Remembrance Day event at Arlington National Cemetery. I have been attending this event for more than 20 years as often as I could. They replied that they are not taking guests and that some sort of virtual thing would be posted online. I got the distinct impression that they did not want anyone to attend - mostly for COVID reasons. I asked if they were telling the public that they could not attend this public event in a public place. No one from NASA ever responded back to me - despite saying that they would.

There is no mention whatsoever on the NASA website or on their calendar of upcoming events, no social media, nothing on the NASA TV schedule etc. FWIW I have built memorials to Columbia and Challenger crew on a remote arctic island and supported a memorial effort atop Mt. Everest from base camp - both at some personal risk - because it was important to do these things. I served on the board of the Challenger Center and came to know the families of these crews. So this is an intensely personal thing with me - as it is for many others in the extended NASA family.

But now NASA seems to be uninterested in making any mention of the sacrifices of these crews. I am saddened - and baffled - and angry.



Columbia: Thinking Back - Looking Ahead, Excerpt from "New Moon Rising", by Frank Sietzen, Jr. and Keith Cowing

"At the end of the event, Rona Ramon, Ilan's widow, spoke last. Steeling her emotions with grace and clarity, she spoke elegantly and briefly. She thanked all for coming. And then she talked of her husband, and the flight of the lost shuttle. "Our mission in space is not over" she told the hushed audience. "He was the first Israeli in space -- that means there will be more."

Keith's note: This was a very sad day. I lost track of number of the TV interviews I did. At one point I was doing 2 simultaneously while standing on top of a milk crate on the sidewalk outside of NASA HQ. No one knew anything other than the fact that the crew was gone. So what was I supposed to say? I managed to make it through the first 24 hours before I finally teared up and almost lost it during a CTV interview when I started to think of all my friends at NASA who had to deal with this loss on a personal level. Six months later on Devon Island a bunch of space people tried to encapsulate that day's grief into something that would last for a long time. July 2003: Arctic Memorials and Starship Yearnings, SpaceRef

"Our task was a somewhat solemn one. We were here to erect a memorial to Columbia astronaut Michael Anderson. Two memorials have already been erected by members of the HMP Team. The memorials take the form of an inukshuk, a stone sculpture in rough human form used by the Inuit to mark territory. These stone structures serve as reference points for those who traverse this desolate place. As we establish these memorial inukshuks, we do so for the very same reason the Inuit do: to aid in future exploration - in this case, of Devon Island. As such, these memorials will show the way for future explorers."

Couple who died in Oro Valley crash were parents of astronaut Laurel Clark,

"The couple that died in a crash in Oro Valley on Wednesday were the mother and stepfather of an astronaut who died in the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003. Margory and Richard Brown, both 85, died Wednesday morning after a crash on West Tangerine Road at North La CaƱada Drive."


Columbia: Thinking Back - Looking Ahead, Excerpt from "New Moon Rising", by Frank Sietzen, Jr. and Keith Cowing

"At the end of the event, Rona Ramon, Ilan's widow, spoke last. Steeling her emotions with grace and clarity, she spoke elegantly and briefly. She thanked all for coming. And then she talked of her husband, and the flight of the lost shuttle. "Our mission in space is not over" she told the hushed audience. "He was the first Israeli in space -- that means there will be more."

Keith's note: This was a very sad day. I lost track of number of the TV interviews I did. At one point I was doing 2 simultaneously while standing on top of a milk crate on the sidewalk outside of NASA HQ. No one knew anything other than the fact that the crew was gone. So what was I supposed to say? I managed to make it through the first 24 hours before I finally teared up and almost lost it during a CTV interview when I started to think of all my friends at NASA who had to deal with this loss on a personal level. Six months later on Devon Island a bunch of space people tried to encapsulate that day's grief into something that would last for a long time. July 2003: Arctic Memorials and Starship Yearnings, SpaceRef

"Our task was a somewhat solemn one. We were here to erect a memorial to Columbia astronaut Michael Anderson. Two memorials have already been erected by members of the HMP Team. The memorials take the form of an inukshuk, a stone sculpture in rough human form used by the Inuit to mark territory. These stone structures serve as reference points for those who traverse this desolate place. As we establish these memorial inukshuks, we do so for the very same reason the Inuit do: to aid in future exploration - in this case, of Devon Island. As such, these memorials will show the way for future explorers."

NASA's annual Day of Remembrance Postponed

"NASA's annual Day of Remembrance reminds us to reflect on not just the sacrifices that have been made by our fallen family, friends, and co-workers, but also to remind us of our core values of safety, integrity, and teamwork as we carry out our history-making missions. Unfortunately, most of our NASA family are on furlough and we recognize your participation in many of the Day of Remembrance activities would be a challenge. As a result, we have decided to delay our observance until we are all able to come together as a family to remember our fallen astronauts and those who have given their life in pursuit of exploration. An updated time for our commemoration has not yet been selected, but we will make this a priority once the furlough is over and everyone is back to work."

Rona Ramon

Rona Ramon, Widow of Israel's First Astronaut Ilan Ramon, Dies at 54, Haaretz

"Rona Ramon, the widow of Israel's first and only astronaut, died of pancreatic cancer Monday at age 54. Ramon's husband, Ilan Ramon, was a crew member on America's 2003 Columbia space shuttle mission when the spacecraft blew up, killing all on board. Rona Ramon later lost her son Asaf, an Israel Air Force fighter pilot, in a training accident. She subsequently established the Ramon Foundation to promote academic excellence and social leadership among Israel's young people."

Columbia: Thinking Back - Looking Ahead, New Moon Rising

"From the an event held on the one year anniversary of Columbia's loss at the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC: "At the end of the event, Rona Ramon, Ilan's widow, spoke last. "Our mission in space is not over" she told the hushed audience. "He was the first Israeli in space -- that means there will be more."

NASA will consider sending another Israeli astronaut into space, Times Of Israel

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine met Thursday with Israel's Science and Technology minister, Ofir Akunis, and they agreed to expand cooperation on issues including the international space station, space exploration, and earth science research, the Hebrew media Ynet website reported. Akunis expressed interest in sending a second Israeli astronaut into space and Bridenstine said the United States would consider the request, Haaretz newspaper reported."

Columbia: Thinking Back - Looking Ahead, New Moon Rising

From the an event held on the one year anniversary of Columbia's loss at the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC: "At the end of the event, Rona Ramon, Ilan's widow, spoke last. "Our mission in space is not over" she told the hushed audience. "He was the first Israeli in space -- that means there will be more."


Columbia: Thinking Back - Looking Ahead, Excerpt from "New Moon Rising", by Frank Sietzen, Jr. and Keith Cowing

"At the end of the event, Rona Ramon, Ilan's widow, spoke last. Steeling her emotions with grace and clarity, she spoke elegantly and briefly. She thanked all for coming. And then she talked of her husband, and the flight of the lost shuttle. "Our mission in space is not over" she told the hushed audience. "He was the first Israeli in space -- that means there will be more."

Keith's note: This was a very sad day. I lost track of number of the TV interviews I did. At one point I was doing 2 simultaneously while standing on top of a milk crate on the sidewalk outside of NASA HQ. No one knew anything other than the fact that the crew was gone. So what was I supposed to say? I managed to make it through the first 24 hours before I finally teared up and almost lost it during a CTV interview when I started to think of all my friends at NASA who had to deal with this loss on a personal level. Six months later on Devon Island a bunch of space people tried to encapsulate that day's grief into something that would last for a long time. July 2003: Arctic Memorials and Starship Yearnings, SpaceRef

"Our task was a somewhat solemn one. We were here to erect a memorial to Columbia astronaut Michael Anderson. Two memorials have already been erected by members of the HMP Team. The memorials take the form of an inukshuk, a stone sculpture in rough human form used by the Inuit to mark territory. These stone structures serve as reference points for those who traverse this desolate place. As we establish these memorial inukshuks, we do so for the very same reason the Inuit do: to aid in future exploration - in this case, of Devon Island. As such, these memorials will show the way for future explorers."


Ancient Memorials for Modern Space Explorers, SpaceRef

"A week prior to my departure I got a call from June Scobee Rogers, the widow of Challenger's commander Dick Scobee. She was thrilled with what we were doing and asked if we'd like to place a few mementos in the inukshuk. She then described what she was sending. A day or so later a package arrived. As I opened it I told my wife, with a bit of a tear in my eye, "this is history". I had been sent one of the few items Dick Scobee had left in his briefcase when he took off for his last mission: a business card and a mission lapel pin. I am certain that his family has so little in the way of such items. As such I was really honored that the family had chosen this inukshuk we planned to build on Devon Island, as the place where such precious items would rest."

Larger image

NASA Honors Its Fallen Heroes, Marks 15th Anniversary of Columbia Accident, NASA

"NASA will pay will tribute to the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as other NASA colleagues who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery, during the agency's annual Day of Remembrance on Thursday, Jan. 25."

Scott Parazynski: Still on Cloud 10 (on the summit of Mt. Everest), SpaceRef

"I tied off a pair of flags I'd made to honor astronauts and cosmonauts who had perished in the line of duty (Apollo 1, Challenger, Columbia, Soyuz 1 and Soyuz 11), as I could think of no finer place on Earth to hang them. In the coming days, weeks, months and years, like their Tibetan prayer flag counterparts, they will weather under the wind, sun and snow, and slowly lift back up into the heavens."

Arctic Memorials and Starship Yearnings, SpaceRef

"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."

Columbia: Thinking Back - Looking Ahead, Excerpt from "New Moon Rising", by Frank Sietzen, Jr. and Keith Cowing

"At the end of the event, Rona Ramon, Ilan's widow, spoke last. Steeling her emotions with grace and clarity, she spoke elegantly and briefly. She thanked all for coming. And then she talked of her husband, and the flight of the lost shuttle. "Our mission in space is not over" she told the hushed audience. "He was the first Israeli in space -- that means there will be more."

Remembering Columbia

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

"Our task was a somewhat solemn one. We were here to erect a memorial to Columbia astronaut Michael Anderson. Two memorials have already been erected by members of the HMP Team. The memorials take the form of an inukshuk, a stone sculpture in rough human form used by the Inuit to mark territory. These stone structures serve as reference points for those who traverse this desolate place. As we establish these memorial inukshuks, we do so for the very same reason the Inuit do: to aid in future exploration - in this case, of Devon Island. As such, these memorials will show the way for future explorers."


Columbia: Thinking Back - Looking Ahead, Excerpt from "New Moon Rising", by Frank Sietzen, Jr. and Keith Cowing

"At the end of the event, Rona Ramon, Ilan's widow, spoke last. Steeling her emotions with grace and clarity, she spoke elegantly and briefly. She thanked all for coming. And then she talked of her husband, and the flight of the lost shuttle. "Our mission in space is not over" she told the hushed audience. "He was the first Israeli in space -- that means there will be more."


NASA Administrator Message: Day of Remembrance - Jan. 28, 2015

"Today we remember and give thanks for the lives and contributions of those who gave all trying to push the boundaries of human achievement. On this solemn occasion, we pause in our normal routines and remember the STS-107 Columbia crew; the STS-51L Challenger crew; the Apollo 1 crew; Mike Adams, the first in-flight fatality of the space program as he piloted the X-15 No. 3 on a research flight; and those lost in test flights and aeronautics research throughout our history."

Loss of Signal: Aeromedical Lessons Learned from the STS-107 Columbia Space Shuttle Mishap

"Loss of Signal presents the aeromedical lessons learned from the Columbia accident that will enhance crew safety and survival on human space flight missions. These lessons were presented to limited audiences at three separate Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) conferences. As we are embarking on the development of new spacefaring vehicles through both government and commercial efforts, the NASA Johnson Space Center Space Life Sciences Directorate (SLSD)1 proceeded to make this information available to a wider audience engaged in the design and development of future space vehicles."

Columbia Memorial Space Science Learning Center Opens in Downey, California, Challenger Center for Space Science Education

"The Columbia Memorial Space Science Learning Center opens today in Downey, California. The facility is a memorial to the crews of both the space shuttle Columbia, lost in 2003, and Challenger, lost in 1986. Among the Center's diverse program offerings will be a Challenger Learning Center, where students will fly simulated space missions. The Downey location joins 46 other locations in the growing international network of Challenger Learning Centers that fly hundreds of thousands of students every year."

Columbia: Thinking Back - Looking Ahead

"The ceremonies and dedications to the crew of Columbia were painful to the space community. But they were set along familiar themes that Americans have come to know as traditional. But on the day following the dedication, a memorial was held in Washington, DC which marked a wholly different national tradition. Several hundred invited guests gathered at the Embassy of Israel on that cold, wet night to remember Ilan Ramon. Daniel Ayalon, Israel's Ambassador to the United States began the event by recalling his pride at the launch of the mission. He talked of Ilan as the son of a holocaust survivor, a veteran of many dangerous missions in the defense of the Israeli nation, and the country's first astronaut. His story, he said, epitomized the story of Israel and the Jewish people. The entire country had been waiting for Columbia to return, and Ayalon said, the pain of its loss would always be with them."

Columbia Report Issued

NASA Report: Understanding Columbia's Loss, SpaceRef

"Accidents are things to be avoided. However, by the very nature of how we currently send humans into space and return them to Earth, there is a substantial amount of risk involved. Much of that risk has been identified and is manageable. But not all of it. Of course, when you hear this discussion, someone inevitably says that the only way to make these things risk free is not to do them.

Well, we have decided to do these risky things, now haven't we?"

NASA Space Shuttle and Constellation Program Actions Resulting From SCSIIT Recommendations

The Columbia Report, Part 1, FreeSpace, Discovery News
The Columbia Report, Part 2, FreeSpace, Discovery News
NASA releases post-Columbia crew survival study, Spaceflight Now
NASA: Columbia crew equipment didn't work well, NewsDay
NASA to change spacecraft due to Columbia tragedy, Huntsville Times
New Report on 03 Disaster Details How Astronauts Died, NY Times
NASA faults equipment in Columbia shuttle disaster, CNN
Columbia crew had no chance, new NASA report says, Reuters
New Report Details Columbia Accident, Recommends Improvements, Universe Today
New NASA report details final minutes of Columbia, AP

NASA TV to Air Columbia Crew Remembrance Service

"NASA Television will provide live coverage of the Astronauts Memorial Foundation's remembrance service honoring space shuttle Columbia's STS-107 crew. The ceremony will be held at the Space Mirror Memorial on the NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at 10 a.m. EST on Feb. 1, the fifth anniversary of the Columbia accident."

An Enduring Memorial

Planetarium to Honor Life of Fallen Arlington Son - Captain David M. Brown

"The Arlington School Board unanimously approved a recommendation to name the Planetarium in honor of Captain David M. Brown. Captain Brown, a Yorktown High School graduate, died while serving as a mission specialist on the NASA Space Shuttle Columbia mission on February 1, 2003. In November 2007, Arlington Public Schools received a letter from Arlington resident George Wysor, a childhood friend and classmate of Brown's and an APS alumnus, requesting that the APS planetarium be renamed in memory of Captain Brown."

A Strong Push From Backstage, Washington Post

"When the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas on Feb. 1, 2003, for example, Bush was consumed with concern for the families of the seven dead astronauts. That left Cheney to make the first critical decisions about the future of manned spaceflight. Even as the vice president and others were grappling with the invasion of Iraq, Cheney crafted a solution to the most pressing problem facing the space program, said former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, a Cheney protege."

NASA paid $26.6M to Columbia families, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA paid $26.6 million to the families of seven astronauts who died aboard space shuttle Columbia -- a settlement that has been kept secret for more than 21/2 years. The space agency recruited former FBI Director William Webster, also a former federal judge, to act as a mediator and adviser in negotiating the out-of-court settlements, according to documents released to the Orlando Sentinel through a federal Freedom of Information Act request."

Spacehab Dismisses RDM Claim With NASA

"SPACEHAB, Incorporated, a leading provider of commercial space services, today announced that the Company has filed for a formal dismissal with prejudice of all litigation against NASA relating to losses incurred by SPACEHAB as a result of the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident. In January 2004 the Company initiated a formal proceeding against NASA in which the Company was seeking damages in the amount of $87.7 million for the loss of its Research Double Module (RDM) as a result of the Columbia accident."


Like father, like son,

"Assaf Ramon, son of Israel's first astronaut Ilan Ramon, has applied to the Israel Air Force pilot training course, says he wants to follow in illustrious father's footsteps to outer space."

Lunar Crater Names for the Columbia Astronauts Provisionally Approved, U.S. Geological Survey

"Names for seven craters in the Apollo basin on the Moon have been provisionally approved by the IAU to honor the seven Space Shuttle Columbia astronauts."

Earlier posts

7 hills in Negev, Mitzpe Ramon, named after fallen Columbia astronauts, Israel Insider

Apollo, Challenger, Columbia: Thinking Back - Looking Ahead

"Our mission in space is not over," Rona Ramon told the hushed audience. "He was the first Israeli in space - that means there will be more."

Statue honors fallen hero (photo), Spokesman Review

"Spokane astronaut Michael P. Anderson has been eulogized as a humble, deeply religious and inspirational man who lived out his dream. For the past year, local artist Dorothy Fowler has used those descriptions to help her create an 8-foot-high, 600-pound bronze statue of Anderson."

Israeli forensic expert solves mystery of Ilan Ramon's diary, Israel21C

"Little did [Sharon] Brown, a superintendent in the Israel Police Division of Identification and Forensic Science, realize that a year later, she would play an integral role in reconstructing the last days of Ramon's life aboard the shuttle."

Spacehab Announces Dismissal of Lloyds of London Complaint

"Spacehab today announced that Certain Underwriters at Lloyds of London have agreed to drop their complaint against the Company and join with Spacehab in pursuit of its claims with NASA for reimbursement of loss for its Research Double Module in the STS-107 Space Shuttle Columbia accident."

- Spacehab Appeals Decision for Losses on Space Shuttle Mission
- Spacehab Files Tort Claim For Losses on Space Shuttle Mission
- Spacehab Receives Response from NASA Regarding Claim for Losses on Space Shuttle Mission
- Spacehab Files Claim for Research Double Module Lost on STS-107 Space Shuttle Mission

Summary of the Office of Inspector General's Reviews on Aspects of NASA's Response to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report

"During our reviews, performed from September 2003 through May 2005, we identified no significant issues or problems that would indicate an unnacceptable risk for returning the space shuttle to flight that the SSP is not already engaged in solving."

Echoes of Columbia, Orlando Sentinel

"Laurel Clark's husband, Jon, still works for NASA as a neurologist but says he plans to retire to write a revelatory book about the Columbia catastrophe, and the need for a far more dramatic shift in the way NASA operates."

Reader Comment: "I am a NASA KSC employee and there is a new commercial for OnStar that just started airing that features the Space Shuttle. The shuttle featured in the commercial isColumbia and I do not have to tell you how much in poor taste this is. I realize that not everyone will recognize that it is Columbia, but for those of us who do (especially the families of the astronauts) it is offensive. I have e-mailed Onstar and I just wanted to pass this on to you in case you wanted to share it."

Columbia Memorial Service

Date/Time: Tuesday, Feb. 1, 10:30 - 11 a.m.

Location: St. Dominic Catholic Church, 630 E Street, S.W.

All members of the NASA Family are invited to attend a non-denominational memorial service for the crew of STS-107 on Feb. 1, the second anniversary of the Columbia accident. The service will take place Tuesday from 10:30 to 11 a.m. at St. Dominic Catholic Church, 630 E Street, S.W., Washington.

NASA Day of Remembrance

NASA Day of Remembrance Scheduled Jan. 27

"A Day of Remembrance observance honoring those members of the NASA Family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery will take place Jan. 27 at 2 p.m. from NASA Headquarters in Washington."

Editor's note: Looking back at the news coverage of this event, I find it somewhat annoying that nearly all of the news accounts focus only on astronauts who died in their spacecraft - not on the many others who were remembered: the JPL employees who died on their way to work, the helicopter crew who died during the Columbia debris recovery effort, and astronauts who died during training or other accidents. Yet their mention by NASA on Thursday made few if any news reports.

For example, Florida Today made no mention of these others who died. I find it hard to understand why these others were not mentioned given that their faces and names were featured to the same extent as were those of the Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia crews during an event televised from NASA Headquarters. Indeed, if you read the memo sent out across NASA, the word 'astronaut' does not even appear. Instead "NASA employees" is used:

A Distant Memorial

NASA Haughton-Mars Project Space Shuttle Columbia Inukshuk Memorials

"To honor the memory of the seven astronauts of Space Shuttle Columbia's last flight the NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) has established seven astronaut memorial sites on Devon Island, in the Canadian High Arctic, during the summer field seasons of 2003 and 2004."

Keith Cowing's Devon Island Journal 20 July 2003: 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. These stone structures serve as reference points for those who traverse this desolate place."

Looking Back

Challenger - A Flight Surgeon Remembers, Dr. Sanity

"On January 28, 1986, I was at Cape Canaveral in Florida. As a NASA Flight Surgeon, I had been assigned as the Crew Surgeon for Mission 51-L (noone really wanted the job since many disapproved of having a civilian--the teacher in space--fly on a space mission)."

Lessons Forgotten?

Deadly space lessons go unheeded, MSNBC

"NASA prefers to literally bury the wreckage in underground concrete crypts, to shove the investigation reports onto another bookshelf, and to allocate one day per year to honoring the dead while ignoring what killed them the other 364 days."

A New Columbia Memorial

On 30 October 2004 President Bush signed into law H.J.RES.57 "Expressing the sense of the Congress in recognition of the contributions of the seven Columbia astronauts by supporting establishment of a Columbia Memorial Space Science Learning Center"

Columbia Debris Found

16 September 2004: Large piece of shuttle found in Newton County , Luftin Daily News

"A large piece of space shuttle Columbia debris found recently is a part of the crew compartment, possibly including the escape hatch, a NASA official said Wednesday. The six-foot-long piece containing a hinged window was found in Newton County by Jason Sebesta, a wildlife biologist with Temple-Inland Inc."

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,

"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,

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'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 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."

December 2003

11 December 2003: Letter to NASA Administrator from NASA OIG Regarding Proposed Options for Implementation of CAIB Recommendations 7.5-1 and 7.5-2

"... While it may be that such organizations could be designed to fulfill the CAIB's intent that NASA have robust and independent engineering and safety offices in connection with space flight operations, we believe the decentralized approach being contemplated is inconsistent with the language of the CAIB report."

November 2003

11 November 2003: Presentations and instructions given to NASA employees regarding NASA Safety and Mission Success Week

Editor's note: Contains links to download presentations and reference materials for NASA employees to use during NASA Safety and Mission Success Week.

9 November 2003: Memo from Randy Stone to NASA JSC Employees regarding NASA Safety and Mission Success (S&MS) Week

"The purpose of the week is to designate a period of time in which everyone (civil service and contractor employees) across the Agency can engage in a dialogue on the lessons to be learned from the CAIB Report. This is not meant to be a stand down week, instead discussions will be held as a part of regularly scheduled meetings (e.g. staff meetings)."

NASA Safety and Mission Success Week, OneNASA

October 2003

28 October 2003: NASA's Hushed Debate, editorial, Washington Post

5 November 2003: An Open Debate at NASA, Letter to the Editor, Sean O'Keefe, Washington Post

"Instead of treating this as evidence of open communications, The Post treated the episode as though it were a "leaked" memo. But there was nothing "hushed" about the debate. The Post didn't need to conduct an investigation, it just needed to listen."

28 October 2003: NASA chief takes media to task, The Times Picayune

"O'Keefe criticized journalists for greatly curtailing their coverage of the debris-recovery effort after attention turned to the work of the federal investigative board in the weeks after the tragedy."

Editor's note: The article goes on to say "The orbiter disintegrated Feb. 1 over eastern Texas, killing the seven astronauts aboard, as it returned to Earth after a two-week trip to the space station. An investigative board appointed by President Bush conducted a seven-month inquiry into the accident ..." This article is about press inaccuracies and biases - and yet the reporter himself has a crucial fact wrong! Columbia did NOT visit the space station! Moreover the investigative board (CAIB) was NOT appointed by the President. More sloppy reporting!

25 October 2003: Columbia Accident Investigation Board To Release Vols. II-VI of Final Report, CAIB

28 October 2003: Panel: Different design might have enabled Columbia crew to survive, USA Today

"The crew of space shuttle Columbia might have survived if the cabin had been designed differently, according to documents released Tuesday by the independent panel that investigated the accident."

28 October 2003: Reports Detail a Hypothetical Shuttle Rescue, NY Times

"A pair of spacewalking astronauts could have climbed out of the Columbia's air hatch and inspected its damaged left wing if one of them had used the other as a ladder, according to documents released on Tuesday by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board."

16 October 2003: Agency-wide CAIB Stand-down at NASA

Editor's note: From an internal NASA memo from a NASA field center:

"Administrator O'Keefe has instructed all Centers to address issues raised by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) report and to address cultural issues identified by an independent team headed by Al Diaz. Mr. Bridges is responding to O'Keefe's instructions by standing down the Center for the entire week of 17-21 November. Stand-down applies to contractors as well as civil servants. During that week all employees will be asked to study the CAIB report and the Diaz report. I suspect there will be other structured activities during that week as well."

4 October 2003: Former NASA advisers on safety answer critics, Orlando Sentinel

4 October 2003: NASA Panel's Ex-Members Fault Shuttle Funding, Washington Post

"Rather than committing to an adequate budget for the space shuttle, NASA and its congressional allies found it easier to get rid of those raising the alarm," the former panel members said in a statement provided to The Washington Post."

1 October 2003: "Getting It" at NASA, Keith Cowing

"This experience is why so many people who interact with NASA still have their suspicions. If people at NASA are not going to answer questions put to them by the public in response to a formal notice published in the public record - then they shouldn't put their email address and phone number in the notice in the first place. On the other hand, this incident also serves to demonstrate a marked and positive change in the way NASA PAO does things. Folks in PAO seem to "get it" to borrow Sean O'Keefe's phrase. Others still do not."

1 October 2003: NASA Lessons Learned: Space Shuttle & International Space Station/Inadequate Budget Levels

"The current and proposed budgets are not sufficient to improve or even maintain the safety risk level of operating the Space Shuttle and ISS. Needed restorations and improvements cannot be accomplished under current budgets and spending priorities."

1 October 2003: NASA Lessons Learned: Space Shuttle Program/Logistics/Cannibalization

"As reported last year, long-term projections are still suggesting increasing cannibalization rates, increasing component repair turnaround times, and loss of repair capability for the Space Shuttle logistics programs. If the present trend is not arrested, support difficulties may arise in the next 3 or 4 years."

1 October 2003: NASA Lessons Learned: Space Shuttle/Ground Processing Infrastructure/Aging and Obsolescence

"The KSC facilities, ground support equipment, and test and checkout gear to support Space Shuttle processing and launch operations continue to age. The status of the potential readiness of these essential assets has been projected, but there is no detailed, funded plan to ensure that this aging infrastructure can safely support the Space Shuttle for its likely operational life."

1 October 2003: NASA Lessons Learned: Space Shuttle Automatic Landing Capabilities

"The space Shuttle system presently includes an autoland system that provides automated guidance capable of navigating the orbiter to the selected landing runway."

1 October 2003: NASA Lessons Learned: Workforce/Integration of New Personnel/Stress Levels

"NASA's recent hiring of inexperienced personnel, along with continuing shortages of experienced, highly-skilled workers, has produced the challenge of training and integrating employees into organizations that are highly pressured by the expanded Space Shuttle flight rates associated with the ISS. There is no systematic effort to capture the knowledge of experienced personnel before they leave. Stress levels within the workforce are a continuing concern."

1 October 2003: NASA Lessons Learned: Space Shuttle Program/Operations-Processing/Workforce

"The combined effect of workforce downsizing, the recent hiring freeze, and the Shuttle Processing contract (SPC) transition, especially at KSC, has raised the possibility that NASA senior managers in the future will lack the necessary hands-on technical knowledge and in-line experience to provide effective insight of operations."

1 October 2003: NASA Lessons Learned: Space Shuttle Program/Workforce/Workload Sustainment

"Space Shuttle processing workload is sufficiently high that it is unrealistic to depend on the current staff to support higher flight rates and simultaneously develop productivity improvements to compensate for reduced head counts. NASA and Shuttle Processing Contract (SPC) cannot depend solely on improved productivity to meet increasing launch demands."

1 October 2003: Space Shuttle Independent Oversight Act of 2003 (Full Text)

1 October 2003: Rep. Hall Introduces Legislation on Oversight of Shuttle Safety

"Congressman Ralph M. Hall (D-TX) today introduced the "Space Shuttle Independent Oversight Act of 2003", legislation that authorizes the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering to establish an independent committee to oversee NASA's implementation of the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Chairman of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, and Congressman Bart Gordon (D-TN), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, joined Mr. Hall as original co-sponsors."

2 October 2003: Lawmaker proposes watchdogs for NASA, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA spokesman Robert Mirelson said agency officials haven't seen Hall's legislation and would not comment on it. But the agency welcomes additional oversight and the opportunity to work with Congress, he said."

September 2003

24 September 2003: NASA safety panel revamp needed, says ex-member, Huntsville Times

"They cannot take whistleblower info because it is public record, which, in turn, doesn't allow for privacy," said Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee who runs a watchdog Web site called NASAWatch, "That can be corrected, and there may need to be some tweaking. Congress can have subcommittees given that power, and that would allow for whistleblower status."

24 September 2003: NASA Oversight Panelists Resign, Washington Post

"NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe yesterday found himself with an unexpectedly blank slate as he sets out to revamp the agency's much-criticized safety apparatus, after all nine members of a key oversight panel resigned."

23 September 2003: Miscommunication seen as threat to space station, Houston Chronicle

"Art Zygielbaum, who along with the entire Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel resigned in frustration Monday, said NASA is doing little to correct safety flaws in the operation of the orbiting outpost, just as it ignored problems that led to the Feb. 1 loss of space shuttle Columbia."

23 September 2003: Rep. Ralph Hall Statement on ASAP Resignations

"The mass resignation of the members of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) sends a strong signal that, despite the useful and important service that they have provided over the years, their advice has rarely been heeded."

23 September 2003: NASA Administrator Accepts Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Resignations, NASA

"NASA has already started the initial evaluation process to revise the panel's charge, based on congressional reaction to the findings of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. The agency also will review the original 1967 ASAP charter and its amendments."

26 March 2003: Safety Panel to NASA: Build a "Full Envelope" Shuttle Escape System, SpaceRef

"Gregory said "I see the words 'no commitment' - even though NASA and industry have done a lot of work in the past" Gregory took issue with the finding and recommendation saying that the wording left him with the impression that the ASAP was saying that there was a "suggestion that NASA has given up - therefore there is no answer - therefore we will dismiss the opportunity to not look further".

22 September 2003: All 9 members resign from NASA safety panel, NYT via Houston Chronicle

"As an example, the group said, the Columbia investigators noted that the advisory panel had complained in 1995 that NASA officials were treating the space shuttle as mature, and that the situation "smacks of a complacency which may lead to serious mishaps." The Columbia investigators found just such complacency leading up to the accident on Feb. 1 that destroyed the shuttle."

22 September 2003: Space safety advisers resign, Orlando Sentinel

"Board Chairman Harold Gehman Jr., a retired admiral, told Congress that NASA may need to reformulate the ASAP membership "to get at the issues that you're concerned about." And a Senate report recommended earlier this month that NASA remake the panel to include "recognized safety, management and engineering experts from industry and academia."

Editor's note: Ouch. Then again, out of chaos comes opportunity.

19 September 2003: NASA adds extra shuttle mission, MSNBC

"NASA is settling on a plan for the space shuttle's "return to flight" next year, internal documents obtained by show. These plans include moving the launch date for the flight, called STS-114, from the unrealistic "no earlier than March 11" into July 2004 or later."

19 September 2003: Smacked by a space chicken, Popular Science

"Sidney Gutierrez: On an earlier flight a window was hit by a little piece of something, and they concluded afterwards it was a piece of chicken the Russians had ejected and was just floating around in space."

19 September 2003:
Worries about layoffs at Michoud plant grow, Times Picayune

"Now that it's clear that space shuttles won't return to flight as soon as hoped, layoffs are a looming possibility for the Michoud plant in eastern New Orleans, a plant spokesman confirmed for the first time Friday."

17 September 2003: Shuttle Manager Details Changes, Washington Post

"Any arrogance I may have had went out the window on Feb. 1," [Wayne Hale] said at a news briefing at the Johnson Space Center, home of mission control. "In my personal life, before February, I thought we had it pretty much knocked... I would have told you we understood what we were doing, and we had mature processes and good hardware. And I think all of those assumptions have been shattered."

"We have come, over the course of several months of introspection and analysis, to a new understanding" of what went wrong, Hale said, as he held up a copy of the investigators' report. "In particular, the first thing we have to get out on the table is we were not good enough. We did not do what is necessary to keep the Columbia crew safe."

17 September 2003: Shuttle mission management team gets major revamp, Spaceflight Now

"In perhaps the most convincing demonstration yet that NASA "gets it," the new chairman of the agency's mission management team today outlined major changes to improve communications among engineers and managers, to ensure dissenting views are heard and to correct the cultural shortcomings blamed in part for the Columbia disaster."

18 September 2003: Daylight-launch rule adds to NASA's challenges in return to flight, Orlando Sentinel

"If NASA isn't ready to launch a space shuttle by fall 2004, the return to flight may have to wait until March 2005, thanks to new rules that cut the launch opportunities in half."

16 September 2003: NASA Says It Can't Meet Investigation Board's Goals, NY Times

"NASA officials said today that they would be unable to comply fully with a critical recommendation from the board that investigated the loss of the Columbia and its crew, giving the space shuttle the ability to repair damage to its heat-protection system in orbit."

16 September 2003: Forget shuttle launch in March: Midsummer just a maybe, Reuters

"Parsons said the Atlantis flight, which originally was supposed to deliver a new crew and supplies to the space station, would be dedicated entirely to testing the new safety measures, and at least one additional flight would be added to refine those measures."

16 September 2003: Space shuttles to last into next decade-Boeing, Reuters

"Since the International Space Station was designed to work with the space shuttle and to stay in service until at least 2018, the shuttle should probably stay in service until that date, Mott said. "So if you go to 2018 that becomes very logical because that (the shuttle and the space station) works together as an integrated system," Mott said."

15 September 2003: 9 Days in September: NASA Responds to the Columbia Accident Report, SpaceRef

"The process of responding to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's report began last week in Washington DC. The outcome of this process will, at a minimum lead to the path required to getting the Space Shuttle fleet flying again. This process may also lead to new directions for America's space program. Then again, it may not."

Editor's note: 14,000 words, 12 parts.

- Ground the Shuttle

- Beyond the Shuttle

- Separating People From Cargo

- Farewell to Faster - Better - Cheaper

- More Money Please

- Schedule

- Risk

- Learning

- Speaking Out

- Visions

- Leadership

- Get With The Program

11 September 2003: NASA looks for leadership, Orlando Sentinel

11 September 2003: NASA could build new craft in 5 years, Houston Chronicle

11 September 2003: House Panel Wary on Plan for Shuttle, NY Times

11 September 2003: Lawmakers Slam NASA Chief for Lack of Space Goal, Reuters

11 September 2003: Congress Criticizes Bush on Plans for Spaceflight, Washington Post

"Democratic lawmakers complained yesterday that the administration is making secret plans for the future of manned space flight without consulting Congress, while Republicans urged President Bush to enunciate his views on the future of the space program."

10 September 2003: Rep. Lampson Re-Introduces Bill to Restore Vision for NASA's Human Spaceflight Program

10 September 2003: Rep. Gingrey: NASA must keep Murphy's Law in mind

10 September 2003: Research Subcommittee Chairman Nick Smith's Statement on NASA's Response to the Columbia Report

10 September 2003: Rep. Boehlert Statement at Hearing on NASA's Response to the CAIB Report

"That said, I'm still concerned that the target is exceedingly ambitious and could skew NASA's efforts to return to flight. We also need to hear more about how NASA will schedule launches after return to flight to avoid the excessive schedule pressure related to the construction of the International Space Station - pressure that was discussed in great detail in the CAIB report, and pressure that Admiral Gehman has cited as an area in which NASA leadership created a cultural problem."

9 September 2003: Echoes of Gene Kranz

9 September 2003: Bush not a 'bad man,' just a 'bad president (Interview with Joe Lieberman), USA Today

"Failure is not an option here because this is now a major test in the war on terrorism."

9 September 2003: Bush Seeks $87B in Anti-Terror Funds, AP

"Howard Dean, another Democratic candidate, on Monday accused Bush of going into Iraq "recklessly" and said "failure is not an option."

9 September 2003: WTO head says Cancun talks key to world economy, Reuters

"Failure is not an option. It would send a very damaging signal around the world about prospects for economic recovery and would result in more hardship for workers around the globe, particularly in poorer countries," he said.

9 September 2003: Finally .... Fernandez, Del-Rio News Herald

"It's time to put up or shut up. When dealing with a child's education, failure is not an option," said Cadena. "We have a lot of work to do."

9 September 2003: Pinkel makes his pitch to St. Louis, ST. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Those that couldn't share his loathing of defeat had to go. Accepting failure is not an option around Pinkel."

Editor's note: Gee, with everyone else adopting this phrase - and rally cry - from NASA's glory days, one would think that NASA would embrace it - and integrate it into everything it does.

8 September 2003: A Crucial Manned Probe, editorial, Washington Post

"The admiral also said that his investigation board could reassemble a year from now to examine NASA's progress. Congress ought to seize on this possibility. The board did a remarkable job in showing how the accident was as much a product of human failings as hardware failure, and it would be a shame to discard its expertise."

4 September 2003: Columbia inquiry prompts White House strategy review, Nature (subscription required)

"The current US federal deficit and the mounting costs of the war in Iraq make any grand expansion of NASA's budget unlikely, but some commentators say that political factors may be coming together for a renewed US commitment to human space exploration."

4 September 2003: The Columbia Report: Will a Safer Shuttle Still Support Science?, Science (subscription required)

4 September 2003: The Columbia Report: 'I Think I Added Something', Science (subscription required)

4 September 2003: The Columbia Report: Vision, Resources in Short Supply for Damaged U.S. Space Program, Science (subscription required)

"Although leaders may not want to channel huge new sums to NASA, they can't stomach abandoning human space flight, either. Such a move would face strong opposition from aerospace companies, labor unions, and legislators representing districts in Florida, Texas, and California where NASA work is concentrated. It would also antagonize Russian, European, Japanese, and Canadian officials, whose countries have invested heavily in the space station."

4 September 2003: Opening Statement by Rep. Ralph Hall at Columbia Accident Investigation Hearing

"Finally, we need to set some concrete goals for human exploration beyond the Space Station. Establishment of human exploration goals would ensure that we make the appropriate investments in our space program, would revitalize the NASA workforce, and would serve as a source of inspiration for both the NASA workforce and the American public."

4 September 2003: Boehlert Statement at First Hearing on the Investigation into the Columbia Accident

"I think all of us need to face up to the rather disheartening picture of NASA that has been so painstakingly drawn by the CAIB. If we fail to do so, it's readily apparent that we will just have to go through this same sad exercise again. NASA's experience may be the ultimate proof of Santayana's famous observation about those who fail to learn from the past being doomed to repeat it."

4 September 2003: House Science Committee Hearing Charter: The Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report

4 September 2003: Congressional Research Service: NASA's Space Shuttle Columbia: Synopsis of the Report of the Columbia Accident

4 September 2003: House Science Committee: Excerpts from the CAIB Report

3 September 2003: Statement of Senator Ernest F. Hollings - Hearing on the Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report

3 September 2003: NASA Tells Breaux: Michoud Cooperated in Columbia Investigation

3 September 2003: Brownback Statement from Space Shuttle Columbia Investigation Report Hearing

3 September 2003: Prepared Statement by Sen. John McCain at Hearings on the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation Board

3 September 2003: Senate Testimony given by NASA Adminstrator Sean O'Keefe

3 September 2003: Senate Testimony given by CAIB Chairman Adm. Hal Gehman

4 September 2003: Senior NASA Management Heads Off On Leadership Council Retreat

Editor's note: Sean O'Keefe made frequent mention yesterday of the management team he has put into place - before and after the Columbia accident. He made particular note of how he expects this team to lead as the agency
continues with implementing the recommendations of the CAIB report. At
a Leadership Council Meeting to be held outside of Washington at the
end of this week NASA's Center Directors, Associate Administrators, and
other senior management will coordinate their plans as they are told
what it means when O'Keefe says 'we get it'. NASA is expected to issue
its Implementation Plan for the CAIB report next Monday. Stay tuned."

August 2003

27 August 2003: Send in your CAIB comments

Editor's note: What do you think about the CAIB's final report? Did they get it right? Can NASA accomplish all of the CAIB's recommendations? How should they do this? Send your comments to Your comments will be posted - please note if you wish them to be posted with your name or anonymously.

-- Your many replies thus far --

Excerpt: "We workers know our place in the organization. We workers understand the risks. We workers will continue to report our dissent, even at risk to our upward mobility. When transferred out of the way, we will move on but will pass the torch to our peers to continue fight the good fight; to safely fly our national Shuttle treasure and her crews until something better is "on the pad"."

2 September 2003: Follow-on publications by CAIB

Editor's note: According to a post to a space-related email list FPSPACE, a CAIB staffer said the people working at the CAIB "do not yet know exactly what they will do for follow-on volumes"

30 August 2003: Grounding the Space Program,

It's time to think big. We should be exploring space. But unfortunately we'll never get out there if all we're doing is sending people up to the I.S.S. to travel in circles.

30 August 2003: Columbia aftermath: NASA seeks definitive mission, Reuters

"One day after the release of a scathing report on the shuttle Columbia disaster, NASA's chief agreed with one fundamental criticism: the US space agency lacks an urgent mission in the post-Cold War world. NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said on August 27 there was no motivation for his agency now comparable to the superpower competition for space that pushed NASA in its early years."

30 August 2003: Corporate success stories offer lessons for NASA, Orlando Sentinel

"Virtually every corporate success story -- Chrysler in the '70s, Harley-Davidson in the '80s and Continental Airlines in the '90s -- has been fueled by substantial change in organizational culture."

30 August 2003: Editorial: Safety first for space travel, NASA, Amarillo Globe News

"NASA should return to space as soon as is humanly possible. Rick Husband and his valiant crew would have it no other way. That return to manned space flight, however, must occur only after a demonstration that NASA truly gets it."

29 August 2003: Experts Doubt Fix for NASA Safety Culture, AP

"Nobel Prize-winning physicist Douglas Osheroff, an investigation board member, insisted in the final editing that the accident report call for culture change in strong, direct language. The chapter listing the recommendations none of which mentions the word "culture" stresses at the beginning: "NASA's culture must change." Is that likely? "If I were betting," Osheroff said, "I would probably bet no." But, he noted: "There's one big difference right now. It is unquestionably true that if NASA loses another orbiter, we are out of human spaceflight for a long time. The stakes are really high."

29 August 2003: Criticism of NASA safety checks grows harsher, Orlando Sentinel

29 August 2003: Advisers say NASA ignored warnings, Orlando Sentinel

29 August 2003: NASA culture called culprit, SJ Mercury News

29 August 2003: Failure Is Always an Option, NY Times

28 August 2003: Report spawns rethinking about NASA's reliance on contractors, Government Executive

"A GAO report issued just a few days before Columbia was lost said NASA s contract management was ineffective and its financial controls were weak and risky."

28 August 2003: NASA Worker Proposed 'Scrub' of Web Site, AP

"Just days after the shuttle Columbia disaster, a NASA employee at headquarters proposed scrubbing the agency's safety office Web site to remove outdated or wrong information that could become "chum in the water to reporters and congressmen."

28 August 2003: FOIA Request Uncovers Previously Unknown NASA Accident Investigation Website, SpaceRef

"One would assume that such a website, constructed by NASA civil servants, on government time, for explicit use with regard to the STS-107 accident investigation, would be considered part of the material provided in response to this FOIA request. Indeed, it is rather surprising that a non-governmental information system was used for such a purpose during such a highly visible accident investigation. Indeed, one has to wonder how much - and what sort of information exchanges - occurred outside of regular official government channels."

28 August 2003: Missing Mars, OpEd, Daily Camera

"Dr. Robert Zubrin, the Denver-based manned space enthusiast and founder of the Mars Society, thinks the goal is obvious: to send humans to our nearest planetary neighbor. "Seven people died on Columbia for no real reason," he says. "But it is worth risking human life to explore new worlds."

Editor's note: Once again Dr. Zubrin turns to using tasteless and downright insensitive comments to make a point. I guess if someone isn't doing exactly what HE thinks is important, then it is not worth the risk. Well, from my perspective these people died serving their country - and doing something that THEY deemed worth the risk. They certainly thought that they had a reason to take that risk - regardless of Dr. Zubrin thinks.

28 August 2003: Director says center working to fix foam on external tank, Huntsville Times

"Marshall Space Flight Center's director Wednesday said the center is responsible for the wing damage to the space shuttle Columbia from foam shed from the external tank. And he said the center is developing a fix to make sure it doesn't happen again."

28 August 2003: Director: Marshall erred in shuttle crash, Huntsville Times

"In the wake of the accident there have been changes in top level Marshall officials, including reassignment of the external fuel tank project manager, as engineers work to fix the foam problem, the director said."

27 August 2003: Shuttle not likely to fly by spring, experts say, CNN

"Congress will not help NASA fly sooner. Quite the contrary," Cowing said."

27 August 2003: Investigator Criticizes Shuttle Report, AP

"The Columbia investigation board did not go far enough in its recommended safety changes, one of the investigators says in a supplemental report that urges NASA to strengthen shuttle inspections and correct mechanical problems that were unrelated to the disaster but could cause another. Air Force Brig. Gen. Duane Deal said Wednesday he felt compelled to highlight these issues after they ended up being buried, downplayed or dropped from the final report of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board."

27 August 2003: NASA Seeks Urgent Mission After Columbia Tragedy, Reuters

"NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said on Wednesday there was no motivation for his agency now comparable to the superpower competition for space that pushed NASA in its early years. There is "nothing comparable to what drove us as a nation with the threat of the prospect of thermonuclear war by a bipolar opponent on the other side of this globe that existed in the early 1960s," O'Keefe told a news conference."

27 August 2003: General Finds Fault in Staffing at NASA, NY Times

27 August 2003: NASA Chief Pledges He'll Make Changes, Washington Post

27 August 2003: Report Blames Flawed NASA Culture for Tragedy, Washington Post

27 August 2003: NASA's O'Keefe Says Space Program at `Seminal Moment', Bloomberg

26 August 2003: Understanding Columbia - and Fixing NASA, SpaceRef

"While the mechanical fixes to NASA's shuttle fleet are straightforward, the human fixes that are needed will require persistence from everyone involved. The question before America is not just whether human space flight is worth the risk, but also whether NASA - and the nation - are up to the task. Everyone needs to get it right this time. Everyone."

26 August 2003: NASA's Underlying Woes: Fading Support and Science, Washington Post

"It will be up to all Americans to decide where to go from here. But the back cover of the shuttle report features an emblem that summarizes its authors' advice. "Ad Astra Per Aspera. Semper Exploro," the emblem reads in Latin. "To the stars, despite adversity. Always explore."

26 August 2003: Full Transcript: NASA Update on the Space Shuttle Columbia Sean O'Keefe and Scott Hubbard August 26, 2003

"... I would suggest that we update those words, that we indeed also adopt the principle of tough and competent and that each day when we enter and we do what we do throughout this agency every single one of us ought to be reminded of the price paid by Husband, McCool, Anderson, Clark, Challa, Brown and Ramon. These words are the price of admission to the ranks of NASA and we should adopt it that way."

26 August 2003: Full Transcript of CAIB Press Conference August 26, 2003, CAIB

"... The lives of these people are very precious to us, and the board considered that a very serious matter, that these brave people thought that what they were doing was important, that it was significant, that it was part of human space exploration, that the things that were going to be learned from this mission were worth the risk that they were taking."

26 August 2003: Transcript of Administrator O'Keefe's Appearance on "CNN Newsnight" with Aaron Brown Aug. 25, 2003
26 August 2003: Remarks by CAIB Chair Adm. Hal Gehman (Transcript)
26 August 2003: NASA Watch Editor Keith Cowing on CNN: The Columbia Shuttle Tragedy: Analyzing the Report (Transcript)
26 August 2003: Congressman Feeney Commends Columbia Accident Investigation Board
26 August 2003: Sen. McCain Statement on Columbia Accident Investigation Report
26 August 2003: DeLay: NASA One Step Closer to Shuttle Flight; Shuttle Program Will Be Safer, Smarter in Future
26 August 2003: Rep. Rohrabacher Applauds Columbia Accident Investigation Board's Findings and Conclusions
26 August 2003: Rep. Boehlert Praises "Selfless and Tireless Work" of Columbia Accident Investigation Board
26 August 2003: Chairman of House Research Subcommittee Statement on Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) Report
26 August 2003: Statement by Rep. Dave Weldon, M.D. (FL-15) on the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) Report
26 August 2003: Reps. Hall and Gordon Comment on Release of the Gehman Report
26 August 2003: NSS Urges NASA to Embrace CAIB Recommendations and Move Forward with Bold Vision for Space Exploration

26 August 2003: Columbia Accident Report Released

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) has released its final report.

  • NASA Administrator Accepts Columbia Accident Report
  • Columbia Accident Investigation Board Statement
  • Columbia Accident Investigation Board Executive Summary
  • Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report (10MB PDF)

    You can also download the report at: CAIB | NASA

    26 August 2003: No More Excuses: Cancel The Space Shuttle, Space Frontier Foundation

    "Under the Foundation's proposal, money currently spent on the Shuttle would be converted into financial incentives to foster a new spaceship industry that could serve both government and commercial markets."

    Editor's note: In other words you want a hand out. Why shouldn't this industry use its own money to develop these capabilities? Oh wait; it already is (Bezos, Musk, Rutan, Carmack ...)

    26 August 2003: Bush in the hot seat over shuttle's future, Houston Chronicle

    26 August 2003: Match passion for space with fervor for safety, USA Today

    26 August 2003: Hill to Use Report as 'Map', Washington Post

    26 August 2003: `Echoes of Challenger' in Columbia blast, Houston Chronicle

    26 August 2003: Short- and Long-Term Recommendations, NY Times

    26 August 2003: Inertia and Indecision at NASA, NY Times

    26 August 2003: A Husband Remembers, ABC

    26 August 2003: NASA Sees Spring Launch for Next Shuttle, AP

    26 August 2003: NASA's culture contributed to Columbia disaster: report, Globe and Mail

    26 August 2003: Report Cites Flawed NASA Culture, Washington Post

    26 August 2003: Shuttle report cites flawed NASA culture, Orlando Sentinel

    26 August 2003: NASA lapses ended chance of saving crew, Orlando Sentinel

    26 August 2003: Cash settlements possible for astronauts' survivors, Orlando Sentinel

    25 August 2003: White House to Issue Statement on CAIB report

    Editor's note: NASA Watch has learned that the White House will respond directly to recommendations made in the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) report. The CAIB's report will be issued tomorrow. The White House will endorse the CAIB report. NASA, specifically Sean O'Keefe, will be tasked with implementation of the board's recommendations. The President will say something along the lines of "we will keep America at the vanguard of spaceflight and will continue the legacy of the Columbia and Challenger astronauts. They will not have died in vain."

    25 August 2003: NASA Awaits Report on Columbia Disaster, AP

    "[Sen. Barbara Mikulski, of Maryland] wants a 15-member board, selected by the House and Senate leadership, that will assure compliance with all the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, which Mikulski calls the Gehman commission. She said the board would report to Congress every six months."

    26 August 2003: NASA Preparing Itself For Scathing Report, Washington Post

    "The U.S. human spaceflight program is already very different from the organization that launched the doomed shuttle Columbia and its crew of seven on Jan. 16. What remains to be seen is how much more NASA officials will have to alter their basic way of doing business to satisfy the requirements of what promises to be a scathing 250-page report to be released today by the independent Columbia Accident Investigation Board."

    25 August 2003: NASA's culture of denial, OpEd, Jim Oberg, MSNBC

    "The culture can also be powerful because it is so pervasive, since it is rarely exposed to outside influences. Unlike the space team that conducted Apollo, recruited from a dozen major pools of experienced workers, most workers at NASA today have only worked at NASA since graduation. Some retired military officers are brought in at headquarters - mostly because they are good at "following orders" of the officials who hire them - and specialists are brought in as needed, but they are far from the levers of power within NASA. This encourages an inbred "groupthink" that is not conducive to disagreeing with what management wants."

    25 August 2003: Shuttle-crash report prods NASA management, Christian Science Monitor

    Noting the impact of flat budgets on NASA's culture of safety, [Howard] McCurdy continues, "over the last 30 years, no one in NASA has had the nerve to stand up to Congress and the White House and say, 'If that's all the money you've got, then we're not going to fly.'"

    25 August 2003: NASA Awaits Report on Columbia Disaster, AP

    "John Logsdon, a member of the board, said Monday the board believes "its criticism is founded on careful evidence, gathered in an intense way over seven months. So, if NASA views it as ugly, it needs to look at itself...." Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, said the report "will dig deep into the so-called culture," adding that "the language is frank and direct and there may be some surprises."

    25 August 2003: Painful Questions: A conversation with Sally Ride, NY Times

    "Q. Dan Goldin, the NASA administrator from 1992 to 2001, had a mantra, "Faster, better, cheaper." Was that a mistake?

    A. "Faster, better, cheaper," when applied to the human space program, was not a productive concept. It was a false economy. It's very difficult to have all three simultaneously. Pick your favorite two. With human space flight, you'd better add the word "safety" in there, too, because if upper management is going "faster, better, cheaper," that percolates down, and it puts the emphasis on meeting schedules and improving the way that you do things and on cost. And over the years, it provides the impression that budget and schedule are the most important things."

    25 August 2003: Fasten your seatbelts.

    Editor's note: Tomorrow, America's space program will begin to face a challenge which will rank among the greatest challenges it has yet to endure. The release of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's report will begin a series of very public events wherein virtually every facet of NASA's human spaceflight endeavors - and even the agency's soul - will be placed under close scrutiny.

    Following the catharsis of the report's release, a gauntlet will be run by all of the players in this drama as every corner of Congress and the media weighs in and exacts their pound of flesh - or gives their vote of confidence. Alas, most will both praise and condemn. This process will run it self out sometime in October - around the time that the next crew to inhabit the International Space Station is due to blast off.

    Last night I sat and watched two things on the History Channel: Ron Howard's "Apollo 13" and Gene Kranz's "Failure is not an option". I am certain I am not the only one who looks back at all of this and wonders why so many things seem so hard now - and challenges so daunting - when NASA in the 60's did not know any better to tackle impossible things - and then get up after an accident and go at them again - as hard - if not harder.

    The crew of Expedition 8 don't know how they will be coming home after their stay in space - Soyuz or Shuttle. Nor do they (or any of us) know what NASA they will return to - one armed and invigorated with a new commitment to move on - and outward, or one reigned in by political shortsightedness and insecurity relegated to satisfaction with the status quo.

    (Much) More to follow.

    28 August 2003: Over the Moon, editorial, Wall Street Journal

    "The Columbia astronauts were brave and accomplished and died prematurely doing the nation's work. Despite its drubbing this week, NASA itself is a can-do agency: It's not about to go on strike, saying we can't work in these conditions, with these tools, with these priorities. But changing the "culture" of NASA will take outside leadership to craft a new and more compelling space mission."

    28 August 2003: Still Lost in Space, Op Ed, Washington Post

    "But watch what they do, not what they say. The shuttle program's budget has been cut and cut. It has become a public relations boondoggle, not to mention just another area for Congress to add pork barrel projects. School kids send up experiments (how to paint with urine, an available commodity in any capsule) and presidents add this or that foreign astronaut for diplomatic, not scientific, reasons. This is a program that has lost its way."

    27 January 2003: "Fun with Urine" Stirs Students' Imagination, NASA

    22 August 2003: White House Turns Down Shuttle Budget Boost Request, Florida Today/

    "The White House has turned down a NASA request for an extra $1.6 billion next year to get the three remaining shuttles flying again and speed up development of the proposed Orbital Space Plane, Florida Today has learned."

    Editor's note: Contrary to what is claimed in the Florida Today/ story, i.e. that the White House has turned down a request by NASA for additional funds, NASA Watch has learned that the White House (OMB) has neither approved or rejected any budget request by NASA. NASA will be submitting its FY 2005 budget request to the White House this Fall. Any requests for additional funds for Shuttle program fixes (accident recovery) or OSP acceleration in the form of an amendment or supplemental request to the FY 2004 budget will likely be submitted in roughly the same time frame as the FY 2005 budget submission. Moreover, any such supplemental request to the FY 2004 budget will be worked as part of a larger, overall plan which will include coordination with the FY 2005 budget request.

    25 August 2003: NASA set to revamp system, Orlando Sentinel

    "The changes are detailed in a 121-page report titled "NASA's Implementation Plan for Return to Flight and Beyond." An Aug. 5 draft was obtained by the Orlando Sentinel."

    23 August 2003: NASA's Next Step, US News & World Report

    "NASA's immediate goal is to get the shuttles safely flying again, perhaps as early as next March. And it does intend to complete the station, according to William Readdy, associate administrator for space flight. That task requires the shuttles, because the ISS modules were designed to fit into their cargo bays. But then the costly, fragile shuttles could be mothballed. Before the accident, some NASA officials had vowed to keep them flying through 2020. "I don't think [that's] plausible now," says Cowing."

    23 August 2003: NASA Watch Editor Keith Cowing on NEXT@CNN 23 Aug 2003 [Transcript], CNN

    "... culture is sort of a key that all reporters have on their keyboards these days. And when something happens at NASA they don't quite understand, they say, Oh, it's culture. There's more to it than that. There's a culture within NASA works, there's the contractor community, there's Congress, and then there's the public. So I don't want to cast the blame elsewhere. But you've got to understand NASA not by itself, but within the context with which, you know, it does all these marvelous things. Scant attention is paid to the fact that all these spacecraft operate perfectly. It's when one thing goes horribly wrong that suddenly we think, Well, the entire agency is messed up. That's not true."

    23 August 2003: Congress counts down to report on Columbia, Houston Chronicle

    "Throwing the word `culture' around is a recipe for letting everyone off the hook because no one knows what it means," said [David Goldston, chief of staff of the House Science Committee]. "Clearly this is an agency that needs change. If the discussion is about some indefinable notion called `culture,' that's not going to get us very far."

    23 August 2003: Columbia's 'Smoking Gun' Was Obscured, Washington Post

    "While most of the ingredients of Columbia's destruction had been collecting for some time, tucked away in the crannies of a complicated bureaucracy, no one had seen them, either. In contrast to the 1986 loss of the shuttle Challenger, when engineers had tried to stop the launch only to be overruled by higher-ups, this time the portents had become invisible to all those who might have altered events."

    23 August 2003: Way to fix panels in space shows promise, NASA says, Orlando Sentinel

    "Engineers are studying a repair for heat-resistant panels on the leading edges of the space shuttle's wings that could eliminate one of the major obstacles to resuming launches."

    22 August 2003: Investigator's Assignment Nears End, NY Times

    "As the board members studied the shuttle disaster, he said, they realized that they needed to look beyond failing hardware and simple human error into NASA's culture, to see if there were elements that all but compelled bad decisions. "It's more than just an accident report," Admiral Gehman said.

    23 August 2003: Hard-hitting report on Columbia disaster coming, AP

    "Force Brig. Gen. Duane Deal, a board member, says the report will be "a frank assessment of what we've seen has happened to NASA over the years and its current state." Even Gehman has hinted that the tone of the report may well be newsworthy, given its toughness. Yes, it will be ugly."

    22 August 2003: NASA- from the ground up, Daily News

    "Think about the ultimate reality show, now taking off with this crew - not going to the moon, been there, done that - but going to Mars," [Gene] Kranz said. "That would be a four- or five-month journey, and people could be living with this crew, and each day looking forward to this one step."

    22 August 2003: NASA Culture, Columbia Probers on Collision Course, Washington Post

    "O'Keefe said he considers the idea that NASA has a cultural problem "arguable." He said, "There clearly is a problem with the information flow and the decision-making process -- you can call that culture." But he said the principal lesson of the Columbia disaster is that "people are very fallible, people make mistakes" in judgment."

    22 August 2003: OneNASA web site on "Culture".

    Editor's note: NASA's recent "One NASA" efforts are just dripping with the word (and concept) of "culture". A few examples:


    "... One NASA's focus is cultural change. It was begun by NASA employees and is fully backed by NASA leadership."

    Recommendation 4: Organizational Culture: Revalidate and advance our common organizational values to build a unified culture. [details: "The pursuit of One NASA is more cultural in nature and will be somewhat more difficult to measure. You will know it when you see it."]

    22 August 2003: Congressmen: NASA Must Change 'Huge Blob Of Bureaucracy', AP

    "It's going to require us to knock some heads and to affix some accountability and to make sure certain people are let go and make sure changes are made. There's nothing that resists change more
    than a huge blob of bureaucracy," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, chairman of the House Science Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics."

    22 August 2003: Behind the doors of Mission Control, USA Today

    "Anyone curious about the origins of NASA's flight culture, which has been under fire again since the loss of the shuttle Columbia in February, will find plenty of clues in the missions described in this two-hour documentary. Though failure may not have been an option, it was a real threat, and it still is today."

    21 August 2003: NASA braced for culture shock as Columbia inquiry reaches verdict, Nature

    "Asked whether that would apply to any call to reform NASA's culture, [Deputy Administrator Fred] Gregory said: "It would be difficult for me to define to you what the NASA culture is."

    22 August 2003: Remarks by President Bush After Meeting Local Economic Leaders - Excerpt Regarding Columbia Accident Investigation, White House

    "Let me first -- I've been a strong supporter of NASA. I want to look at the report before I comment. You may have seen the report; I haven't, in which case, I want to look at it. I do believe that a space program is important for a country that is trying to stay on the leading edge of technological change. But let me look and first see what the report says, how critical it is, what it says, what it means."

    21 August 2003: Columbia Accident Investigation Board Will Release Final Report on August 26, 2003, CAIB

    "ARLINGTON, VA - The Columbia Accident Investigation Board will hold a press briefing to discuss its final report on the cause of the February 1, 2003 Space Shuttle accident on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 at 11 a.m. EDT at the National Transportation Safety Board boardroom at 429 L'Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C."

    20 August 2003: A Preview of Congressional Activity

    21 August 2003: Editor's Update: The House Science Committee will be holding a full committee hearing with Adm. Gehman on 4 September 2003. Unlike what I was first posted, this will not be a joint hearing with the Senate. Word has it that that The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (chaired by Sen. McCain) is planning a hearing for 9 September 2003.

    Earlier Editor's Note: If the CAIB's report is delayed this could impact the planning for a long series of hearings on Capitol Hill. If the report is released on 26 August as planned, there will be at least one hearing per week by the House in September.

    NASA will most certainly be running a gauntlet in September.

    20 August 2003: CAIB Report Delayed?

    Editor's Update: NASA Watch has learned that editorial work on Volume 1 (which is approx. 250 pages in length) of the CAIB's final report should be finished by later today. This volume will be delivered to the printers tomorrow (Friday) morning. As such, it would seem that the original 26 August release date is still in effect.

    Editor's Note: According to sources NASA Watch has spoken with the CAIB's report was due at the printers this week (Monday). That has apparently not happened. The 26 August release date has yet to be confirmed by the CAIB. According to a CAIB representative, they will know whether the 26 August date will be met on Thursday. According to the same CAIB representative, the back-up date for the report's release is 3 September.

    When the report is finally issued it will be released in print form with a CD included which will have the report in PDF format. The final report will also be posted on the CAIB website, and one would expect, on NASA's website. One of the report's appendices is reported to have an extensive treatise on the history of the Space Shuttle program written in great part by John Logsdon. More to follow.

    18 August 2003: NASA support up after tragedy, USA Today

    "The public accepts some risk that astronauts will die. Only 17% considered any shuttle accidents "unacceptable." Slightly fewer than half, 43%, said they would accept one accident every 100 flights; 32% said they would accept an accident every 50 missions or fewer. Two shuttles have crashed in 113 flights."

    18 August 2003: Public support could prove crucial for NASA, USA Today

    "Similarly, few seem to closely follow developments in the space program. Only 35% of poll respondents knew that there is a U.S. astronaut in space now. NASA astronaut Ed Lu has been living in the International Space Station since April. Half the respondents thought no U.S. astronauts were in space."

    17 August 2003: Critical flaws in shuttles loom as potential disaster, Orlando Sentinel

    "An Orlando Sentinel review of NASA's hazard-evaluation studies and nearly 2,000 malfunction reports from the 113 shuttle flights found a half-dozen hardware systems -- all critical to successful launch, orbit and landing -- that have repeatedly faltered or failed during flight. In many instances, they have been treated and accepted in much the same fashion that NASA reacted to ongoing flaws that doomed Challenger and Columbia."

    15 August 2003: NASA Inspector General Issues Letter to NASA Administrator Regarding Observations on the Independence of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board

    "In his August 15, 2003, letter to Administrator Sean O'Keefe, Mr. Cobb said, 'Although NASA policy and the CAIB's original charter contained provisions that could have hindered an independent investigation, based on my observations, I believe the CAIB, under Admiral Harold Gehman's leadership, is and has been conducting its investigation independently and without undue influence from NASA."

    17 August 2003: NASA budget is T-minus and holding as Columbia probe is out, Orlando Sentinel

    "I don't think the Congress is going to be unwilling to spend more. But they want to know it's going to solve the problems, and they want to know it's going to get you somewhere in the long run, that it's not just a short-term fix," said Jim Muncy, an independent space-policy consultant at PoliSpace, based outside Washington, D.C."

    Editor's Note: Word has it that OMB is considering a $380 million supplemental appropriations request which would address Shuttle repairs, upgrades, and what it would take to accelerate the Orbital Space Plane project.

    13 August 2003: Uneasy e-mails could not shake NASA's feeling that all was well, Orlando Sentinel

    "NASA's top safety official knew about concerns that arose during shuttle Columbia's final mission, but -- like everyone else involved -- accepted the conclusion that the spacecraft and crew were in no danger, e-mails released Tuesday show."

    11 August 2003: Families of shuttle crew await report, AP

    "Clark, 50, thinks the preliminary recommendations the board has already made, including finding ways to do in-orbit inspections and repairs and better preflight safety checks, are very prudent. Still, he says, "It's one thing to say it but another to do it." Both he and Salton pointed to a NASA culture that may make questioning decisions difficult. "There's this cultural mind-set that's present here," said Clark. "It's not an evil thing. It's great to have that 'let's go' spirit, but sometimes you push things to beyond where you should. But this is not about fault, it's about cause."

    7 August 2003: NASA Watchdog Calls Columbia Decisions 'Shocking', Reuters

    "[Former astronaut and Task Force chair Richard] Covey told reporters at the Kennedy Space Center that he was not necessarily surprised that NASA suffered a second shuttle disaster, since "space flight is risky business and it will remain risky business." But he said he was disappointed there were so many management mistakes similar to those that preceded Challenger."

    7 August 2003: 'Risky Business', ABC

    "Covey said the task force may never quite assess the "cultural" issues within NASA that many experts say have plagued the space agency because the task force must finish its work a month before shuttle flights resume."

    6 August 2003: Asteroids Dedicated to Columbia's Crew, NASA

    "The final crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia was memorialized in the cosmos as seven asteroids orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter were named in their honor today."

    6 August 2003: NASA looks over reforms, vows to implement them, Orlando Sentinel

    6 August 2003: NASA assures board it will follow directives, Houston Chronicle

    6 August 2003: NASA targets spring 2004 for shuttle return, New Scientist

    "NASA cautions that the date is a planning target, not a deadline that must be met. The plan (STS-114) calls for Atlantis to deliver the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module to the International Space Station. The launch window from 11 March to 6 April meets "all the constraints" imposed on a return to flight, said Bill Readdy, NASA associate administrator for space flight."

    4 August 2003: Equations prove more reliable in NASA lab's Columbia study, SF Chronicle

    "Until 2003, scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration assumed that during a space shuttle launch, lightweight foam falling off the spaceship's external fuel tank wouldn't damage the shuttle. They were wrong."

    1 August 2003: Shuttle's problems, editorial, Orlando Sentinel

    "But NASA has been constrained as much by the limited vision of its leaders as by its limited budgets. If those leaders, starting with Administrator Sean O'Keefe, can persuasively articulate a compelling new vision for NASA, Congress is more likely to respond. Such a vision would include leaving low-Earth orbit, where astronauts have been stuck since the end of the moon missions, and heading for Mars. That's the best hope for recapturing the excitement that once energized the U.S. space program.But the future of the program is not secure with the shuttle. The sooner that NASA moves beyond it, the better."

    4 August 2003: Shuttle crews to look for damage, Orlando Sentinel

    "A July 31 internal NASA document obtained by the Orlando Sentinel details the options for surveying the shuttle's thermal-protection system in orbit and recommends testing possible repair techniques for the ship's protective heat tiles on the next mission."

    4 August 2003: Shuttle Inquiry Uncovers Flaws in Communication, NY Times

    "Edward R. Tufte, a professor emeritus at Yale University and an expert in the visual presentation of evidence, has expressed his dismay at the content of the transcripts from the Jan. 23 meeting. In March, Professor Tufte published a blistering critique of the Boeing studies used by NASA. He has since included the material in a course he teaches on presenting data and information, and in a booklet. He calls the crucial slide about the foam strike a "PowerPoint festival of bureaucratic hyper-rationalism" because, he said, it conceals far more than it reveals."

    ET on Columbia Evidence Analysis of Key Slide

    1 August 2003: Investigator Worries NASA Won't Change, AP

    "Board members and former NASA employees have pointed to attitudes of superiority, fear of retribution by lower-level employees, communications problems and strained relationships between key divisions of NASA as part of its difficult culture. Osheroff is also troubled that some managers who made crucial decisions during Columbia's flight seem unwilling to accept individual blame."

  • July 2003

    31 July 2003: Report not singling out Marshall, Huntsville Times

    "Cramer, D-Huntsville, said the Columbia Accident Investigation Board is set to release its report by the end of August. Cramer met privately with board Chairman Adm. Harold Gehman earlier this month to discuss what Congress could do to help NASA. During that discussion, Cramer asked if Marshall would be singled out."

    31 July 2003: NASA studying landing flight paths to lower risk on the ground, Orlando Sentinel

    "I can't imagine that we would want to change the landing trajectory and course simply to avoid that in the future," NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said in June. "That would be the equivalent of stopping all commercial airline traffic in all metropolitan areas."

    27 July 2003: NASA Watch Editor Keith Cowing on "Next@CNN" 27 July 2003 (Transcript), CNN

    27 July 2003: Spacelift Washington - A Forge of Consensus: Political Leadership and the Future of Space Exploration, SpaceRef

    "The Columbia Space Shuttle tragedy was unexpected, unforeseen, and unavoidable. But it has spawned a unique opportunity to lay out a positive new direction for the U.S. civil space program. Such a chance for change comes but once in a generation, when circumstances force public leaders to look beyond the headlines to comprehensive policy prescriptions, whose cost and complexity often stifle their prospects."

    27 July 2003: Foam likely to hit next shuttle, Orlando Sentinel

    "In 1988, shuttle Atlantis was raked with a hardened insulating material that broke off the nose cone of a solid rocket booster. It sustained 707 hits, with 298 an inch or larger that required extensive repair. One insulating tile was knocked off, and the orbiter's metal skin was partly melted. "It looked like we had been shotgun-blasted," said retired astronaut Robert "Hoot" Gibson, who commanded that flight, recalling video images taken of the damage from the shuttle's robot arm while Atlantis was in orbit. "I looked at those pictures and said 'We are going to die' to myself."

    26 July 2003: NASA chief promises to break culture of silence that contributed to Columbia accident, but some say that's not enough, AP

    "Whatever the reason for the chilling silence, NASA chief Sean O'Keefe is promising dramatic change. He told employees this past week he is committed to "creating an atmosphere in which we're all encouraged to raise our hand and say something's not right or something doesn't look safe."

    26 July 2003: Lawmaker cautions NASA against 'magic date' for next launch, Houston Chronicle

    "I think we know where to lay the blame if there's any blame to be laid," he said. "It's on the culture and the attitude that we know how to do this and we know how to do this well. They haven't been nearly as skeptical as they should be. There's not enough openness or willingness on the part of upper management to listen to the concerns expressed in the lower levels."

    26 July 2003: Congress to Monitor Shuttle Program Closely, Lawmaker Says, NY Times

    "Mr. Boehlert told reporters at a briefing that he envisioned at least three or four hearings, starting on Sept. 3 or 4, that would dissect the report and its recommendations for the shuttle program."

    26 July 2003: Hill Asserts Role in Shuttle's Future - Return to Flight Is Not Up to NASA, Head of House Science Panel Says, Washington Post

    "I think it's going to be largely guided by what we say and, obviously, the feelings expressed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," Boehlert said during a Capitol Hill news conference. "I think quite frankly we're in the driver's seat, as we should be, on determining that."

    Editor's Note: It's the White House's decision to make - not Congress'. If the White House chooses to listen to Congress (not an unwise decision) as it makes this decision, that's fine. But Congress appropriates funds for NASA's programs. It does not operate space transportation systems. Moreover, Sean O'Keefe answers directly to the President. The fly/no fly decision is a call that the President needs to make - not Congress.

    23 July 2003: Post-Columbia NASA hunkers down, Op Ed, Jim Oberg, MSNBC

    "But when it came time to assess the hazard of foam impact on the special high-temperature leading-edge panels - the reinforced carbon-carbon, or RCC - they had no test data, no analysis tools, no database of flight experience. So they just guessed. They assumed it would be OK. And NASA officials -particularly Linda Ham, who was in charge of that meeting - let them get away with it."

    23 July 2003: Full Transcript of NASA Press Conference with Linda Hamm, Phil Engelauf, and LeRoy Cain, NASA HQ

    22 July 2003: Remorse from NASA manager who dismissed foam danger, AP

    "In her first public appearance since the space shuttle disaster nearly six months ago, Ham acknowledged that with 20-20 hindsight, there are things the mission management team and all of NASA could have done better."

    22 July 2003: NASA Team Believed Foam Could Not Damage Space Shuttle, NY Times

    22 July 2003: NASA Managers Differed Over Shuttle Strike, Reuters

    22 July 2003: NASA Workforce Bill Approved By House Science Committee, House Science Committee

    "The House Science Committee today approved, by a vote of 21 to 14, Chairman Sherwood Boehlert's (R-NY) legislation to address the "brain drain" at NASA. H.R. 1085, the NASA Flexibility Act of 2003, would give NASA more flexibility to recruit and retain a highly skilled workforce."

    22 July 2003: House Science Committee Bill Fails to Deal with Safety and Vision at NASA, House Science Committee, Democratic Membership

    "Waiting to have the Gehman report in hand could only have strengthened the Committee's hand in moving a bill," commented Mr. Gordon. "It is always better to have more information rather than less when you are re-writing laws."

    Editor's Note: Oh c'mon Bart. This is a workforce bill, not accident investigation legislation.

    22 July 2003: Space Shuttle Mission Management Team Transcripts Released, NASA

    "Audio and text transcripts from Mission Management Team (MMT) meetings held during the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107) mission were made available Tuesday on the NASA Internet homepage and on NASA Television."

    21 July 2003: Study Suggests NASA Should Consider Navy's Safety Techniques, NY Times

    "A NASA study of how the Navy operates nuclear submarines has found sharp differences between the Navy and the space agency, with some lessons for safety and reliability that NASA could adopt and some that may be out of its reach."

    21 July 2003: Remaining fleet poses new hurdles for NASA, Orlando Sentinel

    "Space experts say the three remaining orbiters are fully capable of supporting the station. After all, Columbia had not flown to the outpost because it was too heavy and lacked the necessary docking equipment, though it was scheduled for upgrades so it could make its first station voyage in November."

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

    "Our task was to erect a memorial to Columbia astronaut Michael Anderson - an inukshuk, a stone sculpture in rough human form used by the Inuit to mark territory and serve as reference points for those who traverse this desolate place."

    20 July 2003: NASA staff counts down to blasting, USA Today

    "NASA managers worry that the official report on the shuttle Columbia accident, to be published next month, will damage morale and distract staff from putting shuttles back into space. "The report will question us at all levels," warned William Readdy, a top NASA official and former astronaut, in a letter sent this month to staff helping to put the shuttle in space again. "Long forgotten will be the many, many scores of safely and successfully accomplished missions." Readdy's letter was posted recently on NASA Watch, a Web site run by NASA gadfly Keith Cowing. Readdy declined comment."

    15 July 2003: Letter to Return To Flight Team From OSF AA Bill Readdy

    "We cannot let fear of criticism stop us from doing what we need to do or allow the critics to cow us into inaction. We shall not spend a single minute being defensive. Time spent in that pursuit is time wasted not fixing the many complex problems we must deal with to return to flight."

    17 July 2003: NASA: Shuttles in Space Again in 9 Months, AP

    "NASA should be able to recover from the Columbia accident and safely return the shuttle fleet to space within "six to nine months," the space agency administrator says."

    16 July 2003: NASA Human Rating Requirement and Guidelines for Space Flight Systems Now Online, NASA

    "NASA has posted the "Human Rating Requirement and Guidelines for Space Flight Systems," on the agency's Web site. The document contains requirements and guidelines for certifying the design of future agency space vehicles carrying humans."

    15 July 2003: Report Criticizes NASA and Predicts Further Fatal Accidents, NY Times

    "Even if NASA corrects the problem that doomed the Columbia, the agency is likely to lose more shuttles before the fleet reaches its planned retirement date of 2020, according to the draft of a study done for the Columbia Accident Investigation Board."

    15 July 2003: Letter to Return To Flight Team From OSF AA Bill Readdy

    "We cannot let fear of criticism stop us from doing what we need to do or allow the critics to cow us into inaction. We shall not spend a single minute being defensive. Time spent in that pursuit is time wasted not fixing the many complex problems we must deal with to return to flight."

    16 July 2003: Crew of Columbia Survived a Minute After Last Signal, NY Times

    "Even in the hangar at the Kennedy Space Center, the debris from the crew cabin is laid out separately in a private area, and officials have promised to not disclose what they characterize as morbid details."

    Editor's Note: Will details about the crew's last moments help spacecraft experts prevent future accidents? Perhaps. Will releasing this information to the public help? No. Yet I'll bet there are a few reporters out there who just won't be able to fight the urge and will post every lurid, morbid detail they can - all because "the public has a right to know". Stay Tuned.

    14 July 2003: Scuttle the Shuttle! Foundation Urges, Space Frontier Foundation

    "None of the Shuttle's capabilities are indispensable, argued Tumlinson, and the ISS should not be used as an excuse to keep flying it at the risk of more astronauts lives. If needed, the Russians can keep it going, or it can be mothballed until it can be taken over by a private Space Port Authority, and then operated, serviced and expanded by private spaceships and cargo vehicles. Now is exactly the right time for a change that can eventually open space to the people who have paid for it all."

    Editor's Note: This editorial is so full of contradictions and nutty conclusions as to make me wonder if anyone even bothered to read it before it was released. This paragraph alone causes me to wonder. Here is the logic as best I can figure it out: it is not OK to risk astronaut's lives flying on a Space Shuttle but it is OK to risk Russian cosmonaut's lives flying in a Soyuz or those of other people flying in some "private spaceship". Until a cogent, logical argument with logical premises and solutions - can be made by this - or any other organization - as to what to do with the Shuttle other than "stop flying it" and then wait for some magic to happen in the private sector, they should all just shut up and sit down. The last thing this situation needs right now is noise and random arm waving.

    14 July 2003: Rex Geveden Named NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Deputy Director

    "William F. Readdy, Associate Administrator for Space Flight at NASA Headquarters in Washington, today named Rex D. Geveden as the new Deputy Director of the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Ala. Geveden will succeed David King, who became Center Director on June 15."

    14 July 2003: Woodrow Whitlow Named NASA Kennedy Space Center Deputy Director

    "William F. Readdy, Associate Administrator for Space Flight at NASA Headquarters in Washington, today named Woodrow Whitlow, Jr., Ph.D., as the new Deputy Director of the agency's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla., effective August 31. Whitlow will succeed James W. Kennedy, who becomes Center Director on August 10."

    11 July 2003: Mistakes Of NASA Toted Up, Washington Post

    "In fact, Logsdon said, "human spaceflight had become a place where dissent was not welcome." He attributed this "organizational pathology" to NASA's long-standing cultural defensiveness, sense of isolation from the public and know-it-all culture -- a sense that they are "special and more knowledgeable than anyone else."

    Editor's Note: Gee John - Correct me if I am wrong, however, but I really do not recall you talking like this when you were on the NASA Advisory Council under Dan Goldin.

    9 July 2003: Colleague says Goldin is intense, charismatic, Boston Globe

    '[Goldin] saved the agency from drifting into irrelevance and made it more targeted to return value to the American taxpayer,'' said John Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University."

    10 July 2003: Panelist Faults NASA Cutbacks - Shuttle Report Will Note Funds Shifted From Safety Efforts, Washington Post

    "Under then-NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin, the agency shifted much of the responsibility for running the shuttle program to outside contractors and ordered deep cuts in government personnel, including the elimination of more than half the maintenance personnel and safety officers, according to published reports and some experts. As a result, the board was told, the shuttle program began to show signs of deterioration. Facilities and equipment at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the space shuttles are assembled and launched, were increasingly in need of replacement."

    11 July 2003: NASA Management Failings Are Linked to Shuttle Demise, NY Times

    "Management failure at NASA was as important in the destruction of the shuttle Columbia and the loss of its crew as the chunk of foam that knocked a hole in its wing, the chairman of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board said today."

    12 July 2003: Photo might have shown hole, Orlando Sentinel

    "The size of the hole in the space shuttle Columbia's left wing was large enough that a spacewalking astronaut or satellite cameras might have seen it, investigators said Friday"

    10 July 2003: CAIB Report Release Delayed

    Editor's Note: The CAIB will not be releasing its final report until at least 26 August 2003.

    8 July 2003: NASA: Gases Breached Shuttle Wing in 2000, AP

    "Superheated gases breached the left wing of shuttle Atlantis during its fiery return to earth in hauntingly similar fashion to the demise of Columbia nearly three years later, according to internal NASA documents."

    7 July 2003: Foam blasts 16-inch hole in final shuttle test, CNN

    "A chunk of foam insulation fired at shuttle wing parts Monday blew open a gaping 16-inch hole, yielding what one member of the Columbia investigation team said was the "smoking gun" that proves what brought down the spaceship."

    2 July 2003: Shuttle Program Manager Announces Personnel Changes, NASA JSC

    "Space Shuttle Program Manager Bill Parsons today announced several key leadership changes within the office as it reorganizes and evolves following the Columbia accident."

    1 July 2003: Columbia Accident Investigation Board Issues Preliminary Recommendation Four: Launch and Ascent Imaging

    "The Columbia Accident Investigation Board today issued its fourth preliminary finding and recommendation to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in advance of its appearance in the final report."

    June 2003

    30 June 2003: Email Between JSC and the STS-107 Crew Regarding Foam Strike

    Editor's Note: This email exchange occurred between Mission Control and Space Shuttle Columbia between 23 and 25 January 2003.

    29 June 2003: IFMP: Balancing NASA's Checkbook, SpaceRef

    "NASA has embarked on a path toward a total overhaul of its accounting system. While a lot of progress has been made, much more lies ahead. Of course, not everyone is happy with these changes."

    30 June 2003: How Science Brought Down the Shuttle, OpEd, NY Times

    "Astronauts do not risk their lives to perform scientific experiments in space. They fly to fulfill a much more basic and human desire to experience the vastness of space."

    Editor's Note: Seven people died on STS-107 after performing a variety of science experiements - including one designed by the author of this OpEd piece, Matthew Koss. Now Koss is questioning the value of flying people in space to do science - including his own. Moreover, Koss seems to feel that he is qualified to describe the personal motives of the crew vis-a-vis their reason(s) for flying. What a presumptuous and creepy way to say thank you, Dr. Koss.

    29 June 2003: Shuttle Probe Will Take Aim at NASA Management, Reuters

    "A goodly portion of the report, perhaps half, is going to deal with the issue of management and management techniques" at the U.S. space agency, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's chief, retired Adm. Harold Gehman, said last week."

    30 June 2003: Panel Decries View of Spaceflight as Routine, Washington Post

    "The panel investigating the Feb. 1 loss of the shuttle Columbia and its crew will recommend this week that NASA treat the space shuttle once again as an experimental test vehicle, a posture NASA mostly dropped after the first four flights in its drive to make spaceflight routine."

    29 June 2003: Politics spawned Columbia mission, Orlando Sentinel

    "What is most disturbing about Admiral Gehman's investigation is that it isn't looking at questions like this -- just what it takes to get the shuttle flying again as soon as possible," said Alex Roland, a history professor at Duke University, former NASA historian and vocal critic of the agency. "Neither the shuttle program or the [international] space station are providing any payoff that justifies the risk of human life or the huge expense."

    Editor's Note: One again, Alex, you are out of the loop with regard to this investigation (see Washington Post article above). Moreover, you also wave your arms with these pronouncements about the value (or lack thereof) of the Space Shuttle and Space Station programs - but never provide one drop of corrobroative proof to support your position.

    27 June 2003: Local Astronaut Says NASA Suffers From Lack Of Leadership, WMUR

    "Astronaut Knew Crew Members Who Died Astronaut Rick Searfoss was a commander on the Columbia, and he knew all six Americans who died in the disaster earlier this year. "They had no clue until they lost the telemetry and they all went to pieces," Searfoss said. Searfoss blames a lack of both leadership and resources for NASA's problems. He left the space program in 1998. He didn't speak out then, but he is now."

    27 June 2003: NASA Chief Promises High Safety Bar, AP

    "James Kennedy, the space center's deputy director, will assume the top job there in August from Roy Bridges, a former shuttle pilot who will manage NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. Bridges will establish a team of engineers there to independently review all aspects of shuttle safety."

    27 June 2003: NASA to put new safety center in place, AP

    "Before the launch of the next space shuttle, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe says his agency plans to put into place a new safety center that will review trends and have the authority to stop a mission. "

    27 June 2003: Columbia Accident Investigation Board Issues Preliminary Recommendation Three: On-Orbit/On-Station TPS Inspection and Repair Capability, CAIB

    "The Columbia Accident Investigation Board today issued its third preliminary recommendation to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in advance of its appearance in the final report."

    25 June 2003: NASA OIG: Former Deputy Pleads Guilty to Shuttle Theft

    "On June 13, 2003, Jeffrey D. Arriola, a former Angelina County Deputy Sheriff, pled guilty to stealing debris from the space shuttle Columbia. Arriola admitted that while he was helping locate shuttle wreckage, he illegally pocketed two small pieces of a straight-back type back shell, which is a wiring harness connector on the shuttle."

    24 June 2003: New Space Shuttle Columbia Images Released, NASA HQ

    24 June 2003: Records show NASA safety office cuts, USA Today

    "The NASA office that oversees safety and assesses the risk of each upcoming space shuttle flight saw its personnel level and research spending cut nearly in half in the 11 years before the Columbia disaster, recently released NASA records show."

    24 June 2003: Shuttle Board Determines Likely Site of Fatal Damage, NY Times

    "The Columbia Accident Investigation Board today located within inches the spot on the shuttle's left wing that was damaged by foam on liftoff on Jan. 16 and said the wing came apart at that point 16 days later in the shuttle's re-entry from space."

    24 June 2003: CAIB Press Briefing Presentation Roger E. Tetrault

    24 June 2003: CAIB Impact Testing Update: G. Scott Hubbard June 24, 2003

    24 June 2003: Making News: NASA Says Space Shuttle Could Fly as Early as December, To The Point, KCRW/NPR

    "Five months after the Columbia Space Shuttle disintegrated on re-entry, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board today gave an update of what it's discovered so far. A former scientist with the space program, Keith Cowing is editor of Cowing has more on the next projected launch and plans to replace the aging shuttle."

    24 June 2003: NASA B-757 deployment to Reno Cancelled

    "Based on the current Return-To-Flight plan from the Center flight operations stand-down that was initiated on the evening of 27-May-03, the B-757 deployment planned for Reno, NV from 25-Jun-03 to 21-Jul-03 has been cancelled. At this time, the possibility remains that this deployment might be rescheduled for a future date in 2003. However, no decision has been made, nor is expected for several weeks at least."

    24 June 2003: Discovery documentary offers easy-to-understand look at Columbia's fall to Earth, Houston Chronicle

    "The first of several television documentaries about the last flight of space shuttle Columbia debuts Wednesday on Discovery Channel. Its value is not in the news it provides -- there's little new here -- but in the concise, cogent and tele-efficient way it is presented."

    24 June 2003:
    NASA Hoping to Fly Shuttle as Early as December, NY Times

    "Even before the independent panel issues its report on the disaster that claimed the space shuttle Columbia and its crew of seven, NASA has apparently concluded that no enormously time-consuming changes will be required before the shuttle fleet returns to space, perhaps as early as December."

    24 June 2003: Other Grave Flaws Found in Shuttle, Washington Post

    "Yet Gehman has said it would be hypocritical and unfair to criticize NASA's handling of the accident-related problems with the benefit of hindsight without also identifying problems that might cause future accidents. "If these flaws are out there laying around and everybody should have seen them, okay, well, tell me what the next one is if you're so smart," Gehman said."

    23 June 2003: Columbia Accident Investigation Board plans more interim recommendations before its final push to draft a report, Aviation Week

    "Members of the panel probing why the space shuttle Columbia broke up on reentry plan to issue a few more interim recommendations to give NASA a head start on flying shuttles again, and then will try to grind out a final report before the end of July."

    23 June 2003: Panel to ask NASA to fix foam fault, LA Times via Boston Globe

    "The recommendation might put a chill on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's plans. Space agency officials have vowed to fly again by early next year, even though they have not figured out how to fix all the problems related to the foam debris."

    20 June 2003: Controversial NASA attorney advising Columbia commission, Houston Chronicle

    "A lawyer who devised ways for NASA to avoid requests under the federal Freedom of Information Act is again working with the agency, this time as legal counsel to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board."

    July/August 1992: Hiding Space: NASA's Tips for Avoiding Scrutiny, Columbia Journalism Review

    "For example, the memo's author, NASA attorney William Sikora, and Sikora's boss, Larry Ross, told the investigator they could not remember just why the memorandum was prepared. But an internal memo by another Lewis employee quotes Ross as telling his senior staff that the guidelines were intended to block attempts by a group of "anti-nuke" protesters to obtain records on the space nuclear program."

    19 June 2003: NASA Advisory Committee Notice of Establishment: Return to Flight Task Group

    "The Task Group will function solely as an advisory body and will comply fully with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act."

    17 June 2003: NASA Sources Sought Notice: 3-D Imaging Sensors for In-flight Shuttle Inspection, NASA JSC

    "NASA/JSC is hereby soliciting information about potential sources for proven, flight certifiable sensors that can detect and quantify damage that may occur in-flight to the Space Shuttle Orbiter's thermal protection system (TPS)."

    16 June 2003: Lawmaker seeks to sever NASA from inquiries crash probes, Houston Chronicle

    "NASA News Chief Robert "Doc" Mirelson said NASA officials are comfortable with the current investigative process change." He said the CAIB has demonstrated its independence from NASA by being "outspoken and very candid" during its investigation. "Based on the work the CAIB has done, we expect a fully objective report," he said."

    16 June 2003: Gordon Bill Assures Independence Of Future Space Accident Investigations

    "U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon has introduced legislation that will assure future human space flight accident investigations are truly independent. The Human Space Flight Independent Investigation Commission Act authorizes a commission appointed by the president to study a shuttle or space station accident. The bill does not affect the current investigation by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, but would apply to a future loss of a crewed space vehicle."

    16 June 2003: H. R. 2450: Human Space Flight Independent Investigation Commission Act of 2003

    "To provide for the establishment of an independent, Presidentially-appointed investigative Commission in the event of incidents in the Nation's human space flight program that result in loss of crew, passengers, or the spacecraft, and for other purposes."

    13 June 2003: Boehlert and Hall: Congress WIll Have Access to Privileged Columbia Investigation Testimony, House Science Committee

    "Today, House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Ranking Member Ralph Hall (D-TX) announced that they have reached an agreement with the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) that will allow Congress access to approximately 200 confidential interviews conducted by the Board. An identical agreement has been reached with Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) and Ranking Member Fritz Hollings (D-SC)."

    13 June 2003: Lawmakers to Get Shuttle Interview Access, AP

    Authorized members of Congress may take unlimited notes from the testimony documents, the letter said, but these may not be released to the public.

    13 June 2003: Congress to Review Shuttle Interviews, Washington Post

    "Retired Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr., who chairs the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, had resisted unfettered congressional access because of what he called the potential "chilling effect" on future accident investigation witnesses if the statements were made public."

    14 June 2003: NASA lets Congress see secret interviews, Orlando Sentinel

    "U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who has called for complete public access to the testimony, said Friday that he opposes the deal. "That's not going to cut it with the American people," the Florida Democrat said."

    14 June 2003: Some lawmakers to receive secret Columbia data, Houston Chronicle

    "Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Beaumont, who serves on the committee and whose district includes Houston's Johnson Space Center, said access to the interviews is "something that was needed, and I'll be anxious to see what they have. I think the board has been pretty good with us."

    14 June 2003: Report on Shuttle Likely to Leave Important Questions Unanswered, NY Times

    "To judge from the public comments of board members, the report is likely to be an unusually public and frank discussion of risk in human spaceflight. One member of the board, Steven Wallace, on loan from the Federal Aviation Administration, has repeatedly said that flying on the shuttle is more dangerous than flying an airplane in combat possibly 10 times as dangerous, possibly 100."

    13 June 2003: NASA Names Former Apollo & Shuttle Commanders to Lead Columbia Accident Report Task Force

    "NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today said two veteran astronauts, Apollo commander Thomas P. Stafford and Space Shuttle commander Richard O. Covey, will lead a distinguished task force to assess the agency's "Return to Flight" efforts and help implement the findings of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) when its final report is released later this summer."

    < 14 June 2003: NASA OIG: Semiannual Report, October 1, 2002--March 31, 2003

    "More generally, I am concerned that there may be a public perception that human space flight can be safe when, in fact, it is inherently risky and dangerous and will be for the foreseeable future. This said, that we as a society can undertake to pursue such inspirational and challenging endeavors as human space flight is a credit to the human spirit and the United States of America. The OIG aspires to add value to NASA's efforts to mitigate the risks of these awesome undertakings."

    13 June 2003: NASA says shuttle cassette tape a hoax, AP

    "A woman who left an anonymous message with a newspaper tip line suggesting she had found a mini-cassette from the space shuttle Columbia acknowledged to NASA today she did not have such a tape, an official said."

    12 June 2003: Anonymous caller claims she has shuttle tape, Cox News Service

    "The Sound-Off caller claimed that she listened to the recording, and that it contains some kind of communication from the astronauts, but Smith said that NASA might be more concerned with the other sounds that the cassette may have captured."

    13 June 2003: WESH Newschannel 2 Finds Letter Warning Of Shuttle Disaster - Bolts Used On Columbia Under Suspicion, WESH

    "The letter, from the former bolt manufacturer, Hi-Shear Technology Corp., said another Challenger-type failure was inevitable. Billow said that warning came fully 11 months before Columbia went down."

    13 June 2003: NASA discovers problem with bolts on space shuttles, Washington Times

    "Accident investigators yesterday revealed a new danger to the fleet of space shuttles but said they are not changing their theory surrounding the probable cause of the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegration."

    12 June 2003: Columbia Accident Investigation Crawls Toward The Finish Line, SpaceRef

    "I asked John Logsdon how he could possibly formulate a complete picture of how NASA's budgets were developed if he did not have access to such materials. Specifically, I asked him if he had asked for these NASA/OMB materials for the years during which both Sean O'Keefe and Dan Goldin served as NASA's Administrator. Logsdon did not respond to my inquiry about how one could develop an overall picture without the pass back materials, but he did respond to the issue of requesting them."

    11 June 2003: RCC Panel 6 Foam Impact Test Results (Preliminary), CAIB

    11 June 2003: NASA to Boost Trouble-Shooting, Washington Post

    11 June 2003: O'Keefe: NASA needs tough inspection rules to return to flight, USA Today

    11 June 2003: NASA may need better inspection system for panels, O'Keefe says, Orlando Sentinel

    11 June 2003: External fuel tank redesign planned, Huntsville Times

    11 June 2003: Space plane push eyed to aid station, Huntsville Times

    11 June 2003: New Methods Needed to Spot Shuttle Damage, Tests Show, NY Times

    11 June 2003: Membership of NASA Return to Flight Task Group

    Editor's note: This is a list of initial members of the Return to Flight Task Group, which will help assess NASA's implementation of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's findings once its final report is released. Additional members are expected added throughout the process.

    10 June 2003: Interior Secretary Norton and NASA Administrator O'Keefe Announce "Columbia Point" in Honor of Space Shuttle Columbia, DOI

    "Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton and NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today announced the naming of Columbia Point, a 13,980-foot mountain peak in Colorado's Sangre de Cristo Mountains, in honor of the Space Shuttle Columbia's final voyage."

    11 June 2003: Topographic Map Showing Location of Columbia Point, USGS

    11 June 2003: Remarks by Sean O'Keefe - Columbia Point Naming Ceremony

    "I certainly hope to some day to bring my kids to the base of the range right before dawn on a summer's day, when a majestic sea of stars hovers overhead these majestic peaks, prior to first light when hawks and other raptors rise on the early morning thermals. Perhaps my kids will also be privileged to travel in space and be able to look down and see a point worthy of the name Columbia, and of the crew members Rick, Willie, Mike, Dave, Kalpana, Laurel and Ilan, who delighted in viewing our planet's purpled mountain majesties while they carried forth their joyful mission of exploration and discovery."

    9 June 2003: Columbia Accident Investigation Board Holds Seventh Public Hearing and Press Briefing

    "Speakers include: Allen Li, Director of Acquisition Sourcing Management, US. General Accounting Office; Marcia Smith, Senior Level Specialist in Aerospace and Telecommunications Policy for the Resources, Science and Industry Division, Congressional Research Service Library of Congress; Russell D. Turner, President, Honeywell Engines Systems and Services."

    Update: Dan Goldin reportedly testified before the CAIB for 3 hours last Thursday in Texas and brought a lawyer with him.

    7 June 2003: Costs and Risk Clouding Plans to Fix Shuttles, NY Times

    "Anticipating other board recommendations, NASA engineers are discussing ways to launch the shuttle only in daytime, a change that would provide better opportunities to watch for falling debris but would sharply limit the available launching windows for reaching the International Space Station."

    7 June 2003: Widow of Columbia commander says NASA must 'fly again', AP

    "I don't want to see NASA hammered over issues that are irrelevant or unfair," she told The Associated Press after a speech at the Women of Faith conference, which drew 9,000 people. "I just don't want there to be a witch hunt just for the sake of a national television audience ... to see NASA get pummeled."

    6 June 2003: Space Shuttle Columbia Investigation: Foam Impact Test Breaks Reinforced Carbon-Carbon Panel, CAIB

    "An initial foam impact test on a section of an orbiter reinforced carbon-carbon left-wing leading edge showed visible and significant damage on RCC panel 6 and the T-seal between RCC panels 6 and 7, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board reported today."

    6 June 2003: New Columbia Tribute Announced, NASA

    6 June 2003: Interior Secretary Norton, NASA Administrator O'Keefe to Announce Naming of Mountain Peak in Colorado in Memory of Columbia Astronauts, Dept. of the Interior

    "On Tuesday, June 10, Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton and NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe will announce the location and name of a
    mountain peak in Colorado in memory of the seven Space Shuttle Columbia astronauts lost upon re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere on Feb. 1, 2003."

    Update:. NASA Watch has learned that the unnamed
    mountain peak, which will be named "Columbia Point",
    is part of Kit Carson Mountain. Kit Carson Mountain includes 3 significant summits, the highest being Kit Carson Peak, the other two are Challenger Point
    (14,081), and now Columbia Point (13,980 feet).

    6 June 2003: Report on shuttle accident to slam NASA decisions, culture, Orlando Sentinel

    "A detailed 10-page draft outline of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's report obtained by the Orlando Sentinel presents a sweeping, hard-hitting review of the technical, organizational and political factors that resulted in America's second space-shuttle disaster. The report traces the accident's causes from the program's origins in the late 1960s to Columbia's breakup over central Texas on Feb. 1."

    5 June 2003: Storms delay crucial space shuttle test, AP

    "Thunderstorms sweeping across Texas scuttled an attempt by Columbia accident investigators today to fire a piece of foam at space shuttle wing parts to test their theory of what destroyed the spacecraft. The crucial test was rescheduled for Friday, though more bad weather was expected."

    4 June 2003: NASA's plan for shuttles termed overly optimistic, Washington Times

    "While NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe has said he hopes the next shuttle flight can happen as soon as October, Mr. Boehlert said it likely will be next year before the next shuttle flight. "In general I am confident that the shuttle will fly again. I can't tell you when. I think the original schedule outlined by NASA would fall more in the heading of wishful thinking than reality," Mr. Boehlert said."

    5 June 2003: NASA debris study winds down, Orlando Sentinel

    "NASA plans to leave the parts where they are for another couple of months to give investigators final chances to examine them -- and to give NASA employees a chance to pay their respects -- before the pieces are boxed up in mid-August."

    4 June 2003: CAIB Impact Testing Update G. Scott Hubbard June 4, 2003, (images and movies) CAIB

    • Foam broke apart in manner suggestive of film record of STS-107
      - shower of small shards with several larger pieces
    • Foam impact comparable to catching a basketball thrown at ~500 mph

      - total loads ~ 6,000 lbs.
    • Observed effects, including higher than expected forces, resulted in test plan change

      - Decision to proceed directly to RCC testing

    4 June 2003: Shuttle's Carbon Composite to Undergo Tests, Washington Post

    "NASA's assumption that the material could withstand such impacts now looms as another of a series of flawed judgments about risks to the shuttles, and Columbia's potential peril during its final flight, that contributed to the tragedy."

    4 June 2003: Columbia Disaster Foam Theory Backed by Test, Reuters

    "A test firing of insulation foam at a replica space shuttle wing struck with such power that it shocked witnesses and added force to the theory that a foam strike led to the breakup of shuttle Columbia, a member of the board investigating the accident said on Wednesday."

    4 June 2003: Foam wedges into wing in shuttle test, CNN

    "When I saw it, I thought, oh my God, this is something. This is not just a light force. This is a really significant effect," Hubbard said at the Center for Advanced Space Studies."

    2 June 2003: Risk factors: NASA looks forward to its return to space (Editorial), Union-Tribune Editorial

    "NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe was blunt during his visit to San Diego
    last week. Human space exploration, he said, always will entail a certain
    measure of risk. The question before the space agency, and before the American public, is
    just what degree of risk is acceptable."

    2 June 2003: The 71 Million Dollar Man Speaks and Runs

    Editor's note: Sen. Bill Nelson only sat through a portion of the hearing. He showed up - just long enough to dump on Ed Weiler about VASIMR (an interesting advanced propulsion system) - and then left. Wow. What a space supporter. Nelson couldn't even sit through the entire hearing. The amount of money for VASIMR being discussed is rather small in the larger scale of things - several tens of millions of dollars. But it is not insignificant. Given Nelson's interest in this propulsion project (led by one of his crewmates on his space junket on mission STS-61C), one would wonder how he evaluates the merit of other space projects vis- -vis the potential payback they provide. There seems to be a bias at work here.

    Shuttle missions cost $500 million each in 'now' dollars. Do the math. $500 million divided by 7 crew members on STS-61C = $71 million per astronaut. What is it that the good Senator contributed to the mission that was worth this much money? Informed sources tell us that Nelson's contribution to this mission was best described as "ballast". Perhaps he can enlighten us further - with corroborative sources as to what he did, as a member of Congress, with zero previous space experience, that was worth $71 million of taxpayer's money.

    Only then should we be able to calibrate his comments about the projects he thinks are important - and those that he does not. Otherwise, all of Sen. Nelson's arm waving with regard to space policy should be viewed on face evidence: that it is motivated by self-serving politics and personal bias - the most egregious waste of tax dollars one can imagine.

    3 June 2003: Shuttle Board May Open Files for Congress, NY Times

    "Mr. Boehlert said negotiators were "now in the process of dotting i's and crossing t's" on an agreement for Congress to examine all of the testimony obtained by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, a 13-member group led by Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr., who is retired."

    3 June 2003: Space Is The Greatest Strategic Venue, Op Ed By Rep. Dave Weldon

    "I want to congratulate Boeing and Lockheed Martin on successful missions and inaugurating a new era in American space launch. Sadly, the business model that was the cornerstone of EELV has not materialized."

    2 June 2003: NASA wrestles over timeline for shuttle flights, MSNBC

    "More than four months after the Columbia catastrophe and the grounding of the three remaining space shuttles, NASA officials are wrestling with the question of when flights can resume. Estimates and guesses range from "the end of the year" through mid-2004."

    2 June 2003: Flights Likely to Resume, but NASA Itself May Enter New Orbit, Washington Post

    "I think it's quite clear there's going to have to be a shake-up in the design of the decision-making process," Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), chairman of the Commerce subcommittee on science, technology and space, said in an interview. "We may need wholesale changes in the structure of the NASA bureaucracy itself."

    2 June 2003: NASA plans to re-examine shuttle fleet's durability, Orlando Sentinel

    "To better understand the problem, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has launched a major initiative to determine just how long the orbiters can be relied upon, both in terms of missions accomplished and time passed. The process began late last year and is expected to take as long as two years to complete."

    1 June 2003: U.S., Russia Renew Commitment to International Space Station, Department of State

    "The U.S.-Russia space partnership has deepened following the loss of the U.S. shuttle Columbia, President Bush and President Putin said in a June 1 joint statement issued in St. Petersburg, Russia, where the two leaders met."

    1 June 2003: Lessons Not Learned?, Editorial, Washington Post

    "The probe is disturbing because the results suggest that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was not transformed by the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger 17 years ago. The investigation suggests that NASA continued to tolerate risks in the shuttle, discounted safety concerns while it was in flight and, most troubling of all, suffers from systemic shortcomings that could result in another tragedy."

    May 2003

    29 May 2003: Space Shuttle Leading Edge Foam Impact Test Update, CAIB

    "The Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) reported the initial foam impact test on the Enterprise's fiberglass leading edge panel showed significant effects."

    29 May 2003: Test supports theory foam doomed shuttle, USA Today

    "A test to simulate the blow from a piece of foam insulation smashing into the left wing of the space shuttle Columbia has provided investigators with the first solid evidence that the debris could have led to the destruction of the spacecraft."

    30 May 2003: The Missing Link? Wing Test Could Offer Breakthrough in Columbia Inquiry, ABC News

    29 May 2003: Use of Contractors By NASA Examined, Washington Post

    "If you have a contract which you can pay bonuses for on-time launch, well, that instills a certain kind of performance in the contractors," Gehman said during a media briefing in Houston. "If you're going to get paid bonuses for launching on time, then how many bonuses do you get for slowing the launch down" by raising safety concerns?

    28 May 2003: Inspections Were Lacking, Shuttle Panel Member Says, NY Times

    "Admiral Gehman said the panel's report should be ready by July 25, when Congress starts a recess, but added that was not a firm deadline. "We'd rather get it right than get it in a hurry," he said.
    It will be "a very, very thick report," he said, and will be presented in narrative form, from the start of the shuttle program."

    28 May 2003: Demonstration flight not likely for space shuttle, Spaceflight Now

    "The chairman of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board said today he has no plans to require NASA to recertify shuttle systems before flights resume or to mount a test flight of some sort to validate recommended design changes or to collect more data."

    28 May 2003: Board sees pattern of deficiencies at NASA, USA Today

    "Members of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board said NASA's safety inspection system overworks its inspectors, doesn't inspect crucial shuttle components and frequently delays small repairs until after a shuttle has flown a mission."

    27 May 2003: New Vehicle Needed to Propel Human Space Exploration, Planetary Society

    "The Congress, Administration and NASA now must make important decisions about the future of space exploration," said Louis Friedman, Executive Director of the Planetary Society. "They will either choose an optimistic and positive direction for the human species -- outward -- or they will commit us to another 30 years bogged down in low Earth orbit."

    26 May 2003: Aging of Shuttle Fleet Prompts Concerns, AP

    "The accumulation of problems suggest "that we shouldn't be flying it anymore, at least not with people on it," said Alex Roland, a NASA historian at Duke University. "If they're going to fly again, they have to find the time and money to fix them or else they should fly them unmanned."

    Editor's note: I'm not sure what value a historian's comments have with regard to the fitness of a space launch system. Moreover, Alex Roland's sole claim to fame is to be an anti-human spaceflight pundit. Of course he is going to suggest that the Shuttle be grounded. DUH.

    25 May 2003: Former NASA Administrator Goldin to Testify Before Columbia Investigation Board, SpaceRef

    "Former NASA Administrator Dan Goldin will be questioned by representatives of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) behind closed doors - possibly as soon as this coming week as the CAIB wraps up its efforts in Texas."

    30 May 2003: Update

    Editor's note: Dan Goldin and half a dozen other individuals will be interviewed in the Washington DC area instead of Texas. Interviews will occur in the next week or so.

    24 May 2003: Shuttle science: Does it pay off? Space-based research brings modest results, Houston Chronicle

    "Still, [Alex] Roland and other critics conceded the results weren't terrible. And other observers said that given the poor reputation of shuttle science among researchers, they were pleasantly surprised by the showing and hopeful for science that might be done on the international space station."

    24 May 2003: NASA budget cuts, delays endanger space experiments, Houston Chronicle

    "A 2002 NASA-sponsored study put an even finer point on the problem: If the space agency doesn't restore some of the space station science facilities that it cut, "NASA should cease to characterize the (station) as a science-driven program."

    25 May 2003: NASA Cites Rescue Bid Possibility - Columbia Board Is Told Of Risky Shuttle Option, Washington Post

    "Asked to assess the feasibility of the rescue schemes, Gehman said in a telephone conference call with reporters that "it's technically possible, very, very risky, and a whole bunch of 'ifs' had to line up in the yes column."

    22 May 2003: Panel to Monitor NASA's Return to Space, AP

    "Glenn Mahone, chief spokesman for the space agency, said that NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe is selecting a panel of outside experts who will evaluate NASA's efforts to safely return the space shuttle fleet to orbit."

    22 May 2003: Problem of foam persists, Houston Chronicle

    "As NASA struggles to recover from Columbia's fatal breakup, experts are wrestling with the prospect they will be unable to completely prevent foam insulation from peeling off the spacecraft's external fuel tank, a top agency engineer said Thursday."

    22 May 2003: NASA had tested Columbia T-seal, Houston Chronicle

    "The shuttle Columbia flew its final mission with a crucial wing panel seal that had been removed a dozen years ago for a series of unusual stress tests and then reinstalled, a source familiar with the finding said Wednesday. "

    22 May 2003: Crucial T-seal stress-tested, then reinstalled, Orlando Sentinel

    "There is no evidence the testing harmed the seal or played a role in Columbia's Feb. 1 breakup over central Texas. However, the board investigating the accident contends the decision to reinstall the seal and fly it again raises troubling questions about the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's approach to safety and managing risk."

    21 May 2003: Foam hit shuttles 7 times, panel says, AP

    "Columbia accident investigators said yesterday that chunks of foam insulation broke off space shuttle fuel tanks more frequently than NASA realized and that everything points to the debris as the cause of the disaster. For two decades, NASA never considered the shedding foam a safety concern, even after a 2 1/2-pound section slammed into the edge of Columbia's left wing shortly after liftoff in January."

    19 May 2003: Safety and the shuttle, Op Ed, Washington Times

    "Several months ago, we called for Mr. Bush to give the space program a tangible target in his next State of the Union address. Now that the fighting in Iraq has finished and the tax cut has passed, Mr. Bush must make the direction of the manned space program a priority."

    19 May 2003: NASA Rethinks Paths For Shuttle Descents, Washington Post

    "If Columbia had broken up just a moment earlier, "that debris would have fallen on downtown Dallas and Fort Worth," said former astronaut William F. Readdy, NASA's top space flight official."

    16 May 2003: Reduce the risks, but let our shuttles fly, Op Ed, Walter Cunningham, Houston Chronicle

    "It's time we acknowledge that space is the most dangerous environment into which humans have ever ventured. There will always be risk associated with manned space flight. There are also gains to be made from the exploration of space. We should reduce the risk to the point where gain to be made exceeds the perceived risk and then get on with the job."

    18 May 2003: Charting A New Course For Space, Op Ed by By David Acheson, Washington Post

    "It is time to take a mature, unemotional look at where manned spaceflight came from and where it is going, and with what technology and at what cost. Then either set it on a new path, with technology we can trust, or turn toward unmanned space science."

    16 May 2003: Spacecraft designer calls for retirement of shuttle, LA Times

    "The bottom line is that the shuttle is too old," [Max] Faget said this week. "It would be very difficult to make sure it is in good shape. We ought to just stop going into space until we get a good vehicle. If we aren't willing to spend the money to do that, then we should be ashamed of ourselves."

    Editor's note: Gee Max, this "give up and stop flying" tone certainly wouldn't have been heard back in the Apollo days. Indeed, had this attitude prevailed NASA wouldn't have done a redesign after the Apollo 1 fire or the Apollo 13 accident. Instead, NASA identified the problems, fixed them, and flew again.

    Replace the Shuttle? Of course. The sooner the better. But to stop flying humans in space until we do? That would be signaling defeat - and a retreat from a human - and an American presence in space. Besides, if we did decide to retreat back to Earth I am sure many people would soon find ways to extend that hiatus indefintely.

    16 May 2003: Orbiters need changes before fleet flies again, study finds, Orlando Sentinel

    "An April 24 internal study obtained by the Orlando Sentinel details 10 changes proposed by a 23-member team of NASA and contract shuttle workers. The goal is to "develop the effort required for safe return to flight . . . should results of the investigation prove inconclusive."

    16 May 2003: When Astronauts Were in Peril, OP Ed, NY Times

    "... the investigations board seems determined to keep the testimony given by some 200 NASA employees and contractors secret despite efforts in Congress to pry the material loose. The interviewees were assured that their remarks would be kept confidential on the theory they would be more candid. It would be unfair at this point to renege and publish transcripts of what they said. But surely some means can be found to make all or most of this material public, either by deleting the names of those speaking or by summarizing their comments."

    15 May 2003: Same problems haunt NASA 17 years after Challenger loss, Opinion, USA Today

    "That's why an independent safety group is needed to serve as a watchdog over NASA, much as the National Transportation Safety Board monitors airlines and other modes of mass transportation."

    NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel: "The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel was chartered by Congress in 1967, after the tragic Apollo 1 fire, to act as an independent body advising NASA on the safety of operations, facilities, and personnel ... The Panel reports to the NASA Administrator and to Congress."

    Editor's note: This past week, I spent more than an hour on the phone with the woman [Sandra Torey (sp)] who did the background checking and wrote this opinion piece. Boy was that a waste of time. I specifically recall mentioning the ASAP (several times), what it does, its charter, and its lineage. Yet she chose to either ignore or forget this. She also told me that she was not really familiar with the topic of space and that she was in a hurry to get this piece finished in the next day or so. Millions of people read USA Today on a daily basis. As such, the staff of this newspaper owes it to their readers to take the time to get things right. If it takes a week or two for its staff to do the appropriate research so as to understand the facts, then that is how long it takes. To do otherwise - and cut corners - is to misinform their readers - which is exactly what has happened here.

    Note to USA Today Editorial Board: you have some rather sharp reporters: Use them! - and don't think of wasting my time again.

    15 May 2003: NASA's committed to safety (opposing viewpoint) Fred Gregory, NASA, USA Today

    "After Challenger, I initiated an independently run safety-reporting system, which enables anyone at NASA to raise anonymously any safety concerns directly with upper management."

    14 May 2003: Testimony of NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation

    14 May 2003: Testimony of Admiral Harold Gehman Chairman, Columbia Accident Investigation Board

    14 May 2003: Brownback Participates in Space Shuttle Columbia Investigation Hearing, press release

    15 May 2003: Prober Faults NASA Shuttle Judgments, Washington Post

    15 May 2003: Shuttle probers look to prevention, Washington Times

    15 May 2003: NASA scores low on safety, Orlando Sentinel

    "At a meeting later Wednesday with reporters, O'Keefe said he does not expect to make any personnel changes until after the board's report is issued."

    15 May 2003: Harsh words for NASA are no surprise, USA Today

    "We're not completely satisfied that underneath the box that says 'Safety,' that there's a big, robust organization," Gehman said. "Under the box that says 'Engineering Directorate,' there's not enough good old engineering-think that NASA used to be known for."

    15 May 2003: Shuttle Investigator Chides NASA on Safety, NY Times

    "The two men have maintained a collegial relationship, at least in public. But today Admiral Gehman, whose testimony had been scheduled for mid-March but was delayed because of the war in Iraq, contradicted Mr. O'Keefe on four points, and Mr. O'Keefe promptly backed off on three of them."

    14 May 2003: NASA 'Bureaucratic Fumbling' Seen in Shuttle Probe, Reuters

    "NASA's "bureaucratic fumbling" kept the U.S. space agency from getting satellite images of shuttle Columbia in orbit before its fatal breakup, the head of the board investigating the accident said on Wednesday."

    14 May 2003: Investigator rips NASA managers for rejecting shuttle images, Government Executive

    "Gehman blamed NASA's system, not any individuals, and said there was "not one person responsible."
    That assertion drew a rebuke from Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., who said it was "equally infuriating that no one is responsible." He added: "Those decisions aren't made by machines. Someone is responsible."

    14 May 2003: Probe finds safety oversights mar NASA, UPI

    "Senate committee chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., icily pointed out that last year $167 million was diverted from NASA's budget to fund pet projects by his fellow Congressmen. He asked Gehman to include in his report how budget issues factored into the accident. "We will," he promised. "One-hundred million dollars will buy a whole lot of safety engineers."

    14 May 2003: H. Res. 222 Commending those individuals who contributed to the debris collection effort following the Space Shuttle Columbia accident

    14 May 2003: House Approves Resolution Commending 20,000 Space Shuttle Columbia Debris Search Volunteers

    "The House of Representatives sent a collective "thank you" to the 20,000 volunteers who helped search for debris following the Space Shuttle Columbia accident. The House passed H. Res. 222, introduced by Science Committee Ranking Member Ralph M. Hall (D-TX) as a tribute to the volunteers, by a vote of 411-0."

    13 May 2003: Public pays tab for NASA, then is told to get lost, Op Ed, Orlando Sentinel

    "We should have names and versions of events, not necessarily in the context of assigning blame but to understand what happened and create a historical record. The idea that secrecy is the only way to guarantee NASA managers will talk openly is nonsense."

    Editor's note: Mike Thomas does not seem to be at all interested in whether such wide open access is the best way to get at the truth of what happened to Columbia and its crew - which is the actual intent of this investigation after all. Which is more important, Mike? - providing the most conducive environment wherein people reveal what they know without fear of recrimination at work such that what went wrong can be identified and then fixed - or to stage a public circus to satisfy your curiosity and providing fodder for political stunts?

    The people interviewed in this investigation watched their coworkers die. Don't you think that they are as interested - perhaps more so - in finding out what happened than you are? Whether or not this investigation should have been done with the absolute guarantee of privacy is now a moot point. Adm. Gehman made a pact with all of the people he interviewed, should he just go back on his word now? What kind of precedent does THAT set?

    Using the same logic you put forth (i.e. that all things done with taxpayer's money should be totally accessible without exception) we should have access to all national security activities, all government procurement (including proposals and all proprietary materials); all the medical records for people getting government assistance - and we should do all of this after we told the people involved that we would not release this information. Did you attend a public school Mike? If so I'd like to see your grades.

    "You put people under oath and you ask them questions. If they don't answer the questions, you remove them from their jobs and, if need be, you prosecute them."

    Editor's note: Attaboy Mike. Let's have a full blown witch hunt and a show trial. Are you suggesting that everyone be sworn in? To put people in such a confrontational setting is to presume that they may have something to hide. What a wonderful legacy for the crew of Columbia.

    NPG 8621.1 : NASA Procedures and Guidelines for Mishap Reporting, Investigating, and Recordkeeping

    Editor's note: According to the CAIB public affairs office, the CAIB is following NPG 8621.1, specifically "Appendix E. Guidelines for Witness Interviewing" as it interviews NASA and contractor personnel in connection with its investigation of the Columbia Accident. Included is the following phrase, part of a larger statement provided to each witness: "Your testimony will be documented and retained as part of the mishap investigation report background files but will not be released as part of the investigation board report. NASA will make every effort to keep your testimony confidential and privileged to the greatest extent permitted by law. However, the ultimate decision as to whether your testimony may be released may reside with a court or administrative body outside NASA."

    12 May 2003: NASA's Eroding Safety, Aviation Week & Space Technology

    "The Columbia Accident Investigation Board will cite serious deficiencies in NASA's overall safety program as a root cause or significant contributing factor to the loss of the space shuttle Columbia and her crew."

    13 May 2003: Space officials can't dismiss shuttle caution signs, Op Ed, USA Today

    "Little more than three months ago, seven astronauts paid with their lives to remind space officials that spaceflight is unforgiving. Tolerance of any level of malfunction is a recipe for eventual disaster. Now it appears that this lesson still hasn't soaked into the consciousness of some top officials."

    12 May 2003: Shuttle Panel Neutrality a Concern, Washington Post

    "Gehman and NASA officials arranged to make the five civilians temporary appointees of NASA after the board decided to take advantage of a provision of the law that allows boards and commissions composed exclusively of federal employees to conduct their business in secret."

    11 May 2003: Board paid to ensure secrecy, Orlando Sentinel

    "Civilian members of the board investigating the shuttle Columbia disaster -- outsiders who were added to reassure Congress and the public that the board would be fully independent of the space agency -- are actually being paid executive-level salaries by NASA."

    9 May 2003: Rep. Bart Gordon Wants Access To Investigation Board's Testimony

    "The original mistake of having NASA appoint the Board that is investigating its activities should not be compounded by actions which would only feed perceptions that something is being hidden from Congress."

    Editor's note: There is a little bit of hypocrisy circulating here. Members of Congress pounded on NASA and the CAIB to have an "independent" investigation - i.e. one that was free to conduct its efforts without outside influence. I certainly understand the criticism being levied for putting these panel members on the payroll of the very agency they are supposed to be investigating - apparently with the specific intent of circumventing some of the requirements of FACA. Nonetheless, the CAIB seems to have maintained their independence from the agency none the less - and this arrangement for reimbursement was done at the direction of its chairman, Hal Gehman, not NASA.

    Now Congress (or at least some of its members, notably Rep. Bart Gordon) want to change the rules again such that they have insight into the investigation. That is, of course, a natural inclination on the part of Congress. However, looking at testimony minus only the name of individuals offers very little anonymity since it is rather easy to tell who the people are by virtue of where they place themselves in the overall system and what they talk about. Such protection is often offered for 'whistleblowers' so as to lessen the chance of retribution when they return to work at their home agency.

    I suppose I could post a link to information as to which large aerospace corporations contributed money to the members of Congress making these complaints and then ask whether this makes the actions of both the companies and members of Congress suspect.

    As the editor of NASA Watch, someone who has had to offer anonymity for many years to those who are critical of their agency, let me say that even under the most relaxed and cordial work environment, you simply cannot expect all people to speak openly and honestly about facts and events if they know that their name will be associated with their comments. That's a fact. It is human nature.

    Congress allows witnesses to testify behind screens with their voice altered and also within closed sessions when they deem their anonymity to be required. One would think they'd extend the courtesy to other investigations of national importance if they want the truth to come out.

    You can argue whether or not this anonymous mode of getting testimony up front should have been the case, but the fact remains that the CAIB told all of these witnesses - and the public - before the witnesses opened their mouths that their testimony and identity would be held in confidence. To change this after the fact is to invite everyone to question the honesty of their government, and a class action lawsuit.

    There is a middle ground that all involved need to find. Not to do so invites lawsuits from one party or another risking the chance that everything everyone says will become public knowledge,. Perhaps if we did this out in the open in the first place, and accepted the fact that there would be some holding back, instead of cloistering everything, we would not find ourselves in this situation right now. Stay tuned.

    9 May 2003: Lawmakers Seek Access to NASA Testimony, Washington Post

    "Gehman said in Houston this week that the transcripts of closed-door interviews "are never going to see the light of day," and that his "offer [to Congress] does not include looking at privileged witness statements."

    9 May 2003: NASA Request for Information (RFI) to Identify Interest in Studies/Analyses of Space Shuttle Columbia Debris

    "A substantial amount of the Space Shuttle Columbia has been recovered. In establishing an enduring legacy for Space Shuttle Columbia and her crew, NASA seeks to enhance spacecraft design and flight safety by analysis of Shuttle debris through qualified and approved research."

    6 May 2003: Columbia Accident Investigation Board Releases Working Scenario, CAIB

    "After three months of intense investigation including thorough reviews of hardware forensic analysis, orbiter telemetry, Modular Auxiliary Data System (MADS) recorder measurements, general public still and video photography, hypersonic wind tunnel testing, and aerodynamic and thermal analysis, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, with the assistance of the NASA Accident Investigation Team (NAIT), has reached the following preliminary conclusions:"

    6 May 2003: E-mails alerted NASA manager to possible shuttle damage, Orlando Sentinel

    "The NASA official in charge of the team that oversaw Columbia in orbit was warned in e-mails 10 days before the shuttle disintegrated that foam debris from the fuel tank could cause serious damage, according to e-mails released Monday."

    4 May 2003: What Would NASA Do If A Soyuz Landed In America?, SpaceRef

    "The location of the Soyuz TMA spacecraft was unknown for a few hours - but an experienced recovery team soon found it. But what would happen if a Soyuz landed outside of the traditional recovery zone in Kazakhstan - such as on a large flat plain in America?"

    Editor's note: This story contains links to the text of a number of previously unreleased NASA Soyuz contingency planning documents.

    1 May 2003: NASA JSC/MOD Entry Options Tiger Team Presentation, NASA

    "Best case combination of trajectory variables was not proven to be achievable."

    1 May 2003: Statement of Sean O'Keefe before the Senate Subcommittee on VA-HUD-Independent Agencies

    "The Columbia accident has reminded me that we cannot stop dreaming. We cannot stop pursuing our ambitious goals. We cannot disappoint future generations when we stand at the threshold of great advances. Mr. Chairman, I believe that NASA's FY 2004 budget request is well conceived and worthy of the favorable consideration by the Subcommittee."

    1 May 2003: Senators say NASA's $15.5 billion budget request too low, Houston Chronicle

    1 May 2003: Columbia Tragedy Raises Questions Over NASA Budget, Reuters

    2 May 2003: NASA backed for more funding, Washington Times

    2 May 2003: Columbia accident snarls NASA budget, Orlando Sentinel

    "Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., the subcommittee's chairman, said programs such as the orbital space plane -- a small, new spacecraft that should be ready by 2012 but has no total price tag yet -- are going to be tough to pay for on NASA's budget. O'Keefe pointed out that the agency's five-year plan calls for spending nearly $18 billion by fiscal 2008. But senators remained concerned."

    April 2003

    30 April 2003: Live Worms Found in Shuttle Debris, AP

    "Hundreds of worms from a science experiment aboard the space shuttle Columbia have been found alive in the wreckage, NASA said Wednesday."

    Editor's note: A question that intrigues many astrobiologists is the theoretical ability of life to survive transportation from one planet to another - such as within a rock blasted off of Mars traveling to Earth (or vice versa). Much more remains to be understood about the conditions that these small life forms endured as they returned to Earth as Columbia broke apart. The mission of the crew of Columbia may well have left us an unexpected and potentially profound legacy - a clue as to what some life forms can endure during a violent arrival from space onto the surface of a planet.

    30 April 2003: NASA mulls in-space options for shuttle repairs, MSNBC

    "Throughout the investigation of the Columbia disaster, the question of why the shuttle astronauts had so little ability to inspect and repair the exterior of their own spacecraft has never gone away. So even as the independent investigation board has been narrowing down the exact cause of the Feb. 1 tragedy, NASA engineers have been working to solve the inspection and repair issues."

    30 April 2003: NASA Report Says Nothing Could Have Saved Shuttle, NY Times

    "According to the new analysis, the best option for returning the shuttle safely would have been to throw every nonessential object overboard, reducing the craft's weight by more than 15 tons. The effort would have required two or more spacewalks by the astronauts to unload the science experiments, the SpaceHab research module, equipment, water and more."

    30 April 2003: NASA eager for foam tests, Orlando Sentinel

    "A critical phase in the Columbia accident investigation begins this week when engineers start shooting chunks of foam at the tiles that protect NASA's space shuttles from the heat of re-entry."

    30 April 2003: Columbia could not be saved, NASA study shows, Spaceflight Now

    "The answer, according to a detailed NASA analysis obtained by CBS News, is that Columbia was doomed from the moment the wing was damaged, most likely during ascent, and that nothing could have been done to reduce the stress of re-entry enough to save the ship and its seven astronauts."

    30 April 2003: Emergency crews hand off debris search to NASA, AP

    "As the search for debris from space shuttle Columbia concluded today in East Texas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency handed operations over to Johnson Space Center in Houston."

    30 April 2003: Suspicious pieces found in New Mexico sent to NASA, AP

    "A profusion of trash kept U.S. Forest Service teams scanning a mountainside Wednesday for what could be the westernmost edge of the debris field from the space shuttle Columbia. "

    29 April 2003: CAIB Press Office: Not Ready for Prime Time

    Editor's note: "the least that representatives from the CAIB press office could do is have the professional courtesy to call me back or send me an email - and tell me whether or not I will be allowed to participate instead of leaving me guessing up until the last minute."

    29 April 2003: NASA Culture: Oblivious to How the Media Works in the Real World?, SpaceRef

    Editor's note: "Expecting people (media or the public) to pay attention to everything NASA does simply because NASA tells them it is important - and to expect this to happen the expense of things that are actually more important (or just more darned interesting) is naive in the extreme."

    29 April 2003: ET on Columbia Evidence-Analysis of Key Slide, Edward Tufte

    "The 3 reports concerning the possible tile damage on the Columbia prepared by the Boeing engineers have become increasingly important as the investigation has developed. The reports provided the rationale for NASA officials to curtail further research (such as photographing the Columbia with spy cameras) on the tiles during the flight. Here is a close analysis of an important slide from a Boeing report. This discussion was prepared for a chapter on the cognitive style of PowerPoint in my new book Beautiful Evidence; the comments here therefore assess both the reasoning about the evidence as well as the methodology of presentation."

    29 April 2003: SRB Return to Flight Camera Activities, NASA MSFC

    "Program Direction - Return to Flight Camera Activities: Program team to investigate in-flight camera coverage for STS-114.

    • Maximize use of existing assets and off-the-shelf technologies.
    • SRB and ET Projects tasked to provide cost & schedule for singleand dual camera options

    28 April 2003: ISS On-orbit Status 28 Apr 2003

    "During final approach, FE-2/SO Don Pettit photographed the Soyuz using the DCS 760 (digital camera system 760) with 400mm and 800mm lenses in a procedural test evaluating techniques and camera settings for future Shuttle dockings to look for signs of damage to the Orbiter's TPS (thermal protection system) tiles."

    29 April 2003: Recovery of key shuttle seal could refocus investigation, Orlando Sentinel

    "Investigators have found pieces of a key seal from the leading edge of Columbia's left wing that could revise an emerging theory on what caused the orbiter to break up during re-entry."

    25 April 2003: O'Keefe will visit Russia to meet crew, space chief, Houston Chronicle

    25 April 2003: NASA Official Urges a Focus on Potential Problems, NY Times

    25 April 2003: Shuttle investigators are zeroing in, MSNBC

    "Even if the debris impact is identified as the precipitating cause of the wing breach, just how it did so remains unclear. has learned that some NASA analysts still insist the white spray seen departing the impact point is not pulverized insulation at all, but scraped-off tile fragments from severe damage behind the leading-edge impact."

    26 April 2003: NASA to add safety enforcer, Orlando Sentinel

    "NASA has asked Apollo-era astronaut Tom Stafford to lead an independent group that will oversee how the agency carries out recommendations from the board investigating the shuttle Columbia tragedy."

    26 April 2003: O'Keefe Rejects Idea That NASA Has Grown Complacent, Washington Post

    "O'Keefe and other agency officials bristled over testimony this week by sociologist Diane Vaughn of Boston College, author of a 1996 book on factors that led to the Challenger accident, who asserted that NASA never fixed many of those problems despite extensive resources and efforts to do so."

    Editor's note: What the Post's Eric Pianin has omitted (a habit of his) is that O'Keefe said in the same afternoon session with reporters that Pianin (and a number of us) attended that he had directed NASA's Michael Greenfield to contact Vaughan and that she had yet to return that phone call. O'Keefe expressed interest in hearing what she had to say. Pianin would have you think, by the tone of his article, that NASA is not interested in what she has to say. More sloppy (and in this case misleading) reporting from the Washington Post.

    25 April 2003: Retooling NASA's culture, Christian Science Monitor

    "In a space agency where safety is typically gauged by statistics and flight experience, can managers make sufficient room for an engineer's hunch or intuition?"

    25 April 2003: NASA Culture, Shuttle Losses May Be Linked,

    "The problems that existed at the time of Challenger have not been fixed," said Vaughn, testifying at the end of a day-long public hearing in Houston.

    25 April 2003: Board to revamp NASA management organization, SpaceflightNow

    Editor's note: Culture, culture, culture. NASA culture is broke. Yea, I use that term too when I describe problems - pre- and post- Columbia and I don't disagree in a generic sense. Yet the media seems to be using the word as generic buzzword for a specific issue they just don't seem to be able to describe. One exception: Bill Harwood at SpaceflightNow has taken the time to parse the topic - not just with short quotes, but with long quotes - and some thinking.

    24 April 2003: Fallout won't hit Marshall, Cramer says , Huntsville Times

    "[Rep.] Cramer said there hasn't been a call in Washington for NASA to do anything but return the shuttle to flight. NASA managers say they want the shuttle to launch early next year."

    24 April 2003: NASA Employee Chargerd with Stealing Columbia Debris, The Smoking Gun

    "NASA employee was arrested today and charged with stealing debris from the Columbia space shuttle. Michael Pankiewicz, who worked as a quality assurance specialist at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, was one of many NASA employees entrusted with searching for and collecting pieces that fell to earth following the Columbia's February 1 explosion."

    23 April 2003: NASA Mistakes Will Repeat Without Changes, Board Told, Washington Post

    "During the all-day proceedings, NASA "took a pounding," as one investigator put it, not only from outside experts in risk management, but also to some extent from longtime insiders who shaped the early space program and designed the space shuttle. The focus was on the limits of perfectability in an inherently risky operation."

    23 April 2003: NASA still has blind spots, expert tells panel, Orlando Sentinel

    "NASA never learned from the mistakes that led to the Challenger disaster 17 years ago and its structure still allows some dangers to escape notice, an expert told investigators in the shuttle Columbia accident on Wednesday."

    23 April 2003: NASA Says Shuttles Could Fly Again Within a Year, Reuters

    "Do I think flying within a year is possible? Yes, I think it's possible," Kostelnik said. "Will it be likely or not? We'll have to wait and see."

    23 April 2003: Shuttle chief to stay till successor found, Orlando Sentinel

    "At the news conference, Dittemore refused to answer detailed questions about whether his team made the right choices during Columbia's 16-day mission."

    23 April 2003: Transcript of 23 April 2003 Press Teleconference with Ron Dittemore and Mike Kostelnik, NASA HQ

    "QUESTIONER: Do you still subscribe to the notion that there really wasn't anything that could have been done?

    MR. DITTEMORE: I think at the time, if you are asking me about that particular response, it was directed toward did I have a tile repair capability, and the answer is I don't have a tile repair capability on orbit, but that is one activity that we have extended an opportunity for our teams to reevaluate and we are pursuing the addition of a tile inspection repair capability for future flights. That is being evaluated at this time, and we will determine whether or not that is a capability that will be implemented in the future."

    23 April 2003: Space Shuttle Program Manager Decides to Leave Post, NASA HQ

    23 April 2003: Special Message from Ron Dittemore to Space Shuttle Program Employees, NASA JSC

    "It has been a tremendous honor and a pleasure to serve with such a talented and dedicated team. However, after 4 years as Program Manager and after much thought and reflection, I have determined that the time is right to move on to other opportunities and allow new leadership time to prepare, execute a successful return to flight, and continue assembly and servicing of the International Space Station."

    22 April 2003: Columbia Accident Investigation Board Hosts Safety Seminar, CAIB

    "The Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) will host a safety seminar with nationally recognized safety professionals from industry and academia, April 27-28, at the CAIB headquarters to raise their awareness of industry and organizational safety standards and practices.

    The event is closed to the media and public."

    Editor's note: Why is this event closed to the media and public? Will classified or proprietary information be discussed? If not, then why go through the effort of telling people via a press release - and then tell them that they won't be allowed to know what transpires. In addition, shouldn't everyone know what sort of safety metrics the CAIB is going to be using as it formulates its findings and recommendations - especially given the microscope under which NASA's processes are being scrutinized by the CAIB?

    Update: I just asked Adm. Gehman this same question during the CAIB press conference. He said "We are going to cover much of the safety and risk assessment issues in public hearings." He described this 2 day event - and the need for it to be closed as being done so that there could be "a good, rich conversation" between the experts and the CAIB panelists. "A lot of this [seminar] is educational." Gehman said. While noting that there is "no reason why the press could not be there" Gehman expressed a concern that the event should be closed such that "if a member of the board wants to demonstrate their ignorance I don't want them to be intimidated. I want [CAIB panelists] to be able to ask anything that he wants." Gehman said that he was "trying to strike a balance between things" (open vs. closed), that he was "getting it right 95% of the time" and that he was "not going to please everyone."

    Editor's note: It is somewhat curious that Adm. Gehman can state that the lack of knowledge on the part of a panel member needs to be protected from public scrutiny while the panel itself makes a systematic review of NASA's performance (and technical competence) on technical issues. It is also somewhat hypocritical that it is permissible for some CAIB matters to be handled behind closed doors while huge piles of internal NASA email are being offered up for public consumption and NASA's way of doing business is held up for detailed scrutiny.

    22 April 2003: Astronauts to honor Columbia crew at Shea Stadium, NY Mets

    "Astronauts Mike Massimino and Mark Polansky are coming to Shea Stadium to honor the Space Shuttle Columbia crew. The astronauts will be in New York Thursday to kick off a multi-city tour with the Houston Astros to continue the crew's mission of telling the world about the importance of space research, development and exploration."

    22 April 2003: Chart Released Showing Ten Possible Columbia Failure Scenarios

    22 April 2003: Columbia Investigators Consider Wing Seal, AP

    "Columbia investigators said Tuesday they are growing more certain of what brought down the shuttle: A seal on the left wing was struck by foam during liftoff and fell off the next day, creating a gap that let in enough scorching gases during re-entry to rip the ship apart."

    22 April 2003: Twin of Columbia's tank shows foam flaws, UPI

    "NASA investigators probing the fatal shuttle Columbia accident have discovered widespread defects in foam insulation on an external fuel tank that is a virtual twin to the tank flown on Columbia's last mission, officials said Tuesday."

    22 April 2003: Shuttle Search Legacy - Lessons Learned in Unprecedented Effort to Pick Up Pieces, Washington Post

    "Tragedy though it was, it's also a huge opportunity for us to do some learning," said Amy Donahue, a public policy professor at the University of Connecticut who is on leave to advise NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe on homeland security matters. "Before they become too rigid to accept new ideas in the new [Homeland Security] department, now is the time to inject these lessons into that organizational and policy decision-making process so that they can gain the benefits of this as a sort of trial run," said Donahue, who once worked as a firefighter in Alaska.

    22 April 2003: NASA needs a culture change, not new people, Op Ed, Orlando Sentinel

    Call it the NASA culture. It is a mind-set that infects the entire agency. Managers become comfortable with risks. A glitch surfaces, and rather than fix it they delude themselves that they understand it. That allows them to ignore their own rules, such as the one that says no launch debris shall hit the orbiter. Somehow, NASA officials found a shade of gray there.

    22 April 2003: Space station trip reflects new reality - After Columbia, Russian Soyuz mission takes different course, MSNBC

    If the Columbia tragedy hadn't occurred on Feb. 1, Malenchenko, Lu and a third crewmate would have been delivered to the station aboard a shuttle mission in early March, and by now the trio would have been nearly halfway through their Expedition 7 mission. But for now, the Soyuz TMA spacecraft represents the only way station astronauts can get back and forth.

    21 April 2003: 3,000 Amateurs Offer NASA Photos of Columbia's Demise, NY Times

    "For weeks, researchers combed through the photographs and videos, going to great lengths to verify that each was what its donor claimed that it was. Some turned out to be hoaxes, and a few were not even pictures of the shuttle. The researchers then culled the best and stitched together a video narrative of the flight."

    19 April 2003: Shuttle changes may spur delays, up costs, Orlando Sentinel

    "NASA is considering major changes to future shuttle missions that range from launching only in daylight to inspecting and possibly repairing the orbiter while in space."

    19 April 2003: Dittemore to resign as shuttle manager, Orlando Sentinel

    "Ron Dittemore is expected to announce his resignation as NASA's space-shuttle program manager next week, agency sources told the Orlando Sentinel on Friday."

    19 April 2003: NASA's Top Shuttle Official Is Said to Be Leaving His Post, NY Times

    "Ron D. Dittemore, the NASA shuttle program manager whose briefings in the days after the breakup of the shuttle Columbia drew praise for their straightforward professionalism, will be leaving the space agency for a job in private industry, colleagues at the Johnson Space Center said today."

    18 April 2003: Shuttle Doomed at Takeoff - Telltale Heat Spike Was Recorded After Debris Strike, ABC

    "The evidence comes from an old magnetic tape recorder that is part of the Orbiter Experiment Support System, sources said. It shows an unusual temperature increase in a key sensor just behind the leading edge of the left wing near the spot where foam that fell from the shuttle's external fuel tank is suspected of striking the shuttle, just 81 seconds into the flight."

    17 April 2003: Columbia Accident Investigation Board Issues Preliminary Recommendations to Improve Inspection and Testing of RCC Components, Shuttle Imaging on Orbit, CAIB

    "The Columbia Accident Investigation Board today issued two preliminary recommendations to NASA. Additionally, the Board issued several facts regarding the shuttle program."

    17 April 2003: Accident board makes first recommendations to NASA, CNN

    17 April 2003: Investigators Propose Changes Before the Next Shuttle Flight

    17 April 2003: Board Tells NASA: Inspect Shuttle Wings,

    17 April 2003: Panel hopes NASA can get head start on fixes, Orlando Sentinel

    "Although the board, led by retired Adm. Harold Gehman Jr., does not expect to issue a report until the summer, the two recommendations were released early so NASA can get a head start. That's likely to continue, Gehman said earlier this week."

    17 April 2003: NASA chief sees no cuts in shuttle work force, Reuters

    "NASA expects no immediate cuts in its contractor work force while its shuttle fleet is idled during the search for the cause of the Columbia accident, the space agency administrator said on Thursday."

    16 April 2003: Trees pay tribute to Columbia's crew, Houston Chronicle

    "Hundreds of employees of NASA's Johnson Space Center joined the families of the Columbia astronauts on Wednesday for a somber ceremony planting trees in memory of the crew."

    16 April 2003: Closure of camps ends to end search for shuttle debris in East Texas, AP

    "NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are scheduled to shut down the four incident command posts that served as operational bases, and the mobilization and staging area that supported personnel in the camps."

    15 April 2003: Suspected Columbia wing breach location moved, Spaceflight Now

    "Ongoing analysis of sensor data and recovered debris indicate the deadly breach in the shuttle Columbia's left wing was located slightly outboard of the best previous guess, possibly at or near the intersection of leading edge panels 8 and 9, investigators said today."

    15 April 2003: NASA to lend shuttle remains for science, UPI

    "Leinbach said researchers from a diverse group of fields -- including materials sciences, hypersonics, chemistry and atmospheric sciences -- will have access to debris for experiments. The pieces will be placed on loan, similar to how the agency handles its sample of lunar rocks and soils. NASA hopes the research may also lead to safer spacecraft designs in the future, Leinbach said."

    15 April 2003: East Texas Columbia Recovery Effort Nears Completion, NASA JSC

    "As the Central Texas search for material from the Space Shuttle Columbia moved westward, the East Texas search began nearing completion. Air operations continued last week, and underwater searches were completed."

    14 April 2003: Researchers will get to study Columbia debris, AP

    14 April 2003: Columbia accident board focuses on panels, USA Today

    15 April 2003: Heat Shielding Was Area of Concern Before Columbia, Washington Post

    "Former astronaut Sally Ride, a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board who also participated in the Challenger probe, said last week, "I'm hearing a little bit of an echo here." She was referring to a tendency of engineers to decide that surviving a problem on one flight means that the same problem is survivable in the future. "You survived the first time, so now it becomes 'normal.'"

    14 April 2003: NASA Found Wing Problem on Discovery, AP

    "There is no technology right now to do effective, nondestructive testing," NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It's a conundrum, one we really have to get better at and have to really figure out."

    14 April 2003: UMaine engineer is studying type of composite material under spotlight in Columbia accident

    "NASA has taken some criticism for not monitoring the integrity of the shuttle wing structures, but it's not fair. Non-destructive testing techniques that can be applied to these types of materials are just being developed," says Mick Peterson, associate professor of mechanical engineering who leads the UMaine research effort.

    10 April 2003: NASA chief says space shuttle may be flying again this year, Denver Post

    11 April 2003: NASA's tests may add look inside wings, Orlando Sentinel

    "If NASA doesn't know the condition of its vehicles, we would be leery of recommending that they fly," said Gehman, a retired Navy admiral. "Some of these things might be pretty simple, you know, a CAT scan of the leading edge. You can do it in place; you don't have to remove it. If it passes, you're good to go."

    10 April 2003: NASA Releases Six New Images of Columbia, AP

    "The images, quietly published weeks ago on part of NASA's Web site, were captured Jan. 28 - four days before Columbia's breakup - by powerful telescopes at the Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing Site, which is located at the crest of the dormant volcano Haleakala."

    Editor's note: "quietly published"? Sorry Ted, we posted these images on SpaceRef and NASA Watch a month ago:

    2 March 2003: STS-107: U.S. Air Force Optical Supercomputing Site (AMOS) Imagery, NASA JSC

    9 April 2003: O'Keefe assures lawmakers of NASA's resolve, Orlando Sentinel

    "U.S. Rep. James Walsh, R-N.Y., who heads the subcommittee, said the importance of spaceflight should not be diminished by the Columbia tragedy. "I suspect that if we back away from the inherent desire in humans to move forward and find new horizons, the world would be a very different place," Walsh said."

    7 April 2003: Streaming Video of CAIB News Briefing

    8 April 2003: Streaming Video of CAIB Hearing and Press Conference

    8 April 2003: NASA Complacency Cited In Both Shuttle Accidents, Voice of America

    Editor's note: from a NASA Watch reader: "This article has two errors. One: The Columbia did not "explode", it burned up on reentry.
    Second: Sally Ride was NOT the first woman in orbit. Valentina Tereshkova on June 16, 1963 was the first woman in orbit. If the Voice of America cannot differentiate between "explosion" and "burning up on reentry" and they don't know who the first Woman in orbit was, they have no right covering something they have no clue about." Another reader adds "Sally didn't say those things in Florida. She was in Clear Lake, Texas at the time."

    8 April 2003: External tank experts recount two decades of debris shedding, Spaceflight Now

    8 April 2003: No 'privileged' testimony or transcripts to be made public, Spaceflight Now

    "Harold Gehman, chairman of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, said today two interim recommendations will be released late this week or early next and that the panel likely will write its final report in June. Gehman also said "privileged," or confidential testimony from senior shuttle managers, engineers and technicians, will never be made public, either in a public hearing or in final report transcripts."

    8 April 2003: Budget squeezed NASA safety, expert says, UPI

    "In a sensitive but dire assessment, Richard Blomberg, the former head of NASA's independent safety advisory panel, said years of neglect had resulted in a shuttle program that was operating safely only in the short term, a scenario that came to a crashing to a halt on Feb. 1, when shuttle Columbia disintegrated in the skies over Texas, snuffing out the lives of seven astronauts."

    20 November 2002: Spacelift Washington: The Future of Shuttle Safety (Part I) A Conversation with Richard Blomberg, SpaceRef

    "Q: Do you think NASA is putting aside sufficient resources for space shuttle upgrades in the future?

    A: No. Absolutely not. One of the major concerns I have about the long-term safety of the space shuttle is the continuity of personnel, and their long-term experience. An awful lot of people that are retiring who have treasure-trove of shuttle knowledge in their head because they were in it (the program) from the beginning. And now, if you further transition that to a management structure that would not be familiar with space shuttle, you are exacerbating that problem. It's not just the aging hardware and infrastructure, Frank, it's the loss of long-term capability."

    8 April 2003: Space Shuttle Program Launch Manifest 27 Mar 2003, NASA JSC

    14 March 2003: Letter from OSF AA Bill Readdy regarding "Space Shuttle Return to Flight", NASA HQ

    "As a goal, the SSP shall plan for corrective actions and reviews which support a launch opportunity as early as the Fall of 2003."

    Editor's note: In Congressional hearings this morning Sean O'Keefe repeated the agency's goal of Fall 2003 (as outlined in Bill Readdy's memo) as an earliest possible return to flight date for the Shuttle. However, based on this official program schedule, issued a week after Readdy's memo, it would seem that some folks in the agency are even more optimistic and are working towards a launch date for STS-114 NET (No Earlier Than) 21 July 2003.

    8 April 2003: Space Shuttle Program Launch Manifest 8 Apr 2003, NASA JSC

    Editor's note: I stand corrected. Thanks to an alert NASA Watch reader we now have the subsequent manifest which shows a shift from the previous NET 21 July date to NET 1 October 2003. Still, it is rather interesting that nearly 2 months after the accident that NASA was holding to a mid-summer launch date - until Readdy's correction.

    8 April 2003: Statement of Sean O'Keefe before the Subcommittee on VA-HUD Independent Agencies, House Committee on Appropriations

    "Mr. Chairman, I will tell you as I told them, I think not. A test of any long-term plan is whether it can accept the inevitable setbacks and still achieve its goals. That is my hope for our plan. Mr. Chairman, in light of the recent tragic loss of Columbia, we must recognize that all exploration entails risks. In this, the Centennial Year of Flight, I am reminded of an accident that occurred just across the river at Ft. Myer in 1908 onboard the Wright flyer. The Wright brothers were demonstrating their flying machine to the U.S. Army, and a young lieutenant was riding as an observer. The flyer crashed, and Lt. Thomas Selfridge died of head injuries, thus becoming the first fatality of powered flight. From that accident in 1908 came the use of the crash helmet.So too from Columbia we will learn and make human space flight safer."

    7 April 2003: Foam impact set off NASA's alarms, UPI

    "The piece of foam insulation that fell off shuttle Columbia's fuel tank and struck its wing during launch raised safety flags at NASA, which had planned to halt future flights for further analysis, an agency program manager said Monday."

    7 April 2003: Official Says NASA Erred on Tank Problem, NY Times

    "The astronaut who will be in charge of planning the resumption of shuttle flights said today that NASA had failed to see a trend in the shedding of foam from the external tank, despite a similar incident a few months before the Columbia accident, because the agency thought that it had solved the problem years earlier."

    7 April 2003: Foam Risks Eyed Before Shuttle Disaster, AP

    "Did you ever think that it was possible to pop a big enough piece of foam off of this external tank to severely damage the shuttle itself?" Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hess, a board member, asked a NASA fuel tank expert. "The answer is yes. We have large areas ... that are hard to spray," replied Lee Foster, a longtime Marshall Space Flight Center employee. "Yeah, we were always worried that there's going to be a big piece that comes out."

    6 April 2003: Officials Question NASA's Willingness To Make Risk Assessments, AP

    "Retired Adm. Harold Gehman, the board's chairman, later said that although NASA does a great job of measuring risk at the "wrench-turning level," the failure to use the risk assessment model for shuttle processing may be a sign that the space agency has problems measuring risks on a broader scale."

    3 April 2003: NASA detects problems in way it studies damage, Orlando Sentinel

    "An internal NASA review has found major flaws in how the agency analyzes possible damage from debris strikes during space shuttle flights."

    3 April 2003: Old technology offers new answers in Columbia crash probe, Computer World

    "An old-fashioned magnetic tape recorder on board the doomed space shuttle Columbia is helping NASA fill in critical gaps about what caused the spacecraft to break up on re-entry on Feb. 1."

    3 April 2003: Data Form Picture of Shuttle Disaster, NY Times

    "Admiral Gehman has said that the board is trying to put the accident in the broader context of the way decisions are made at NASA. One theory holds that because the foam strikes did not cause serious damage on earlier shuttle flights, foam may have been treated more as an annoyance and maintenance problem than a high-priority problem that needed to be resolved quickly."

    2 April 2003: Parts of shuttle Columbia's engines found, UPI

    "NASA officials said Wednesday they have found additional pieces from space shuttle Columbia's engines in two craters on the grounds of Fort Polk in western Louisiana."

    2 April 2003: Testimony of Marcia Smith before the Science, Technology, and Space Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

    "Human space flight is risky. It has claimed the lives of 17 American astronauts and four Russian cosmonauts in spaceflight-related accidents so far. While this is a relatively small percentage of the more than 400 people who have made space journeys, their loss is felt deeply."

    2 April 2003: Testimony of Brian Chase before the Science, Technology, and Space Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

    "Robust, low cost access to space is the key to expanding opportunities in space, whether in Low Earth Orbit or beyond. In light of the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia, it is more important than ever for our nation to address the issue of how we transport people and cargo to and from space."

    2 April 2003: Memorandum for the Record to the CAIB by William Readdy 3 February 2003

    "Wednesday, January 29, 2003 in the early afternoon Mr. Michael Card, NASA Headquarters Safety and Mission Assurance visited me in my office. Mr. Card and an individual from another agency had been discussing the external tank (ET) debris issue during STS-107 ascent. He wanted to discuss an 'offer of support' from the other agency with respect to observing the Space Shuttle Columbia on orbit. He explained that NASA would have to request that support on an emergency or high priority basis."

    28 March 2003: Letter from NASA Adminstrator Sean O'Keefe to NIMA Director Clapper

    "As agreed during that session, we deeply appreciate your intention to make available the products of NIMA assets on a routine basis, without specific tasking from NASA. This will be very helpful as we continually asses the condition of the Shuttle during on-orbit operations. Significantly, your willingness to employ NIMA assets during targets of opportunity without specific tasking will be another useful source of information to help us assess the potential of on-orbit anomalies."

    2 April 2003: Columbia Investigation Zeroes In on Carrier Panel, Washington Post

    "An object that detached from the space shuttle Columbia on its second day in orbit resembled a carrier panel from near the leading edge of a wing, investigators said yesterday."

    1 April 2003: Primer May Have Weakened Shuttle Wing, AP

    "Paint primer leaching off the shuttle launch towers may have eaten tiny holes in the leading edge of Columbia's left wing, weakening it enough to break when struck by a chunk of foam during liftoff, accident investigators said Tuesday."

    1 April 2003: Senior Engineer Faulted NASA for Not Seeking Satellite Help, NY Times

    "A review in late January by engineers from NASA and Boeing, a NASA contractor, found that the foam did not pose a serious risk to the Columbia and its crew. The analysis has been criticized since the accident as overly optimistic."

    31 March 2003: NASA e-mail show shuttle safety questioned, UPI

    "From the e-mail messages, NASA clearly was expecting Columbia to land safely, with engineers making plans and issuing requests for measurements and pictures of the actual wing damage after the shuttle's return to Florida."

    31 March 2003: Draft email from Rodney Rocha regarding possible damage to Columbia

    "Remember the NASA safety posters around the site stating "if it's not safe, say so"? Yes, its that serious."

    31 March 2003: NASA Releases Large Email Collection Related to Columbia Accident (includes links to all documents)

    "The following email collections were released by NASA in response to Freedom of Information Requests made to the agency. Discussion and briefing charts are broken into sections to reduce file size."

    1 April 2003: Engineer Disputed NASA on Seeking Image of Shuttle, Washington Post

    "William F. Readdy, NASA's associate administrator, disclosed recently that he spurned an opportunity to request a high-priority photograph of the damaged space shuttle during the final days of its mission because he felt the agency had no "extraordinary reason" to request the diversion of the equipment -- described by others as spy satellites -- from their assigned military tasks."

    Editor's note: Here we go again, Eric and Guy. We went over the Post's sloppy choice of words (Jeff Smith's) back on 15 March. Readdy did not "spurn" the offer for imagery - he simply did not pursue it. That's what he told you (Eric), the Post's Jeff Smith and Kathy Sawyer, and a room full of reporters on 14 March 2003. Scorn is defined as being "to reject disdainfully or contemptuously." That did not happen and the Post has yet to produce anything to suggest that it did. Continuing to use such an inaccurate misrepresentation of reality in a national newspaper whose stories are reprinted around the world is a disservice to all of your readers.

    "It is not known whether Rocha then wrote his draft "bordering on irresponsible" response. What he sent to Shack, however, was a two-line e-mail simply asking, "Can you tell us more on Roe's negative answer?" There was indication yesterday that Shack responded to that message."

    Editor's note: Instead of printing provocative, unsubstantiated extrapolation of what you think might have happened, how about actually asking the people involved what happened - and then printing their responses? After all, you now have their email addresses ...

    Previous NASA Watch Comments on News Coverage of Columbia Accident (contains an ongoing collection of commentary on the Post's sloppy reporting on the Columbia accident).

    March 2003

    31 March 2003: Gehman calls recorder data a 'treasure trove', Spaceflight Now

    "Ongoing analysis of a "treasure trove" of data from a recorder recovered in the wreckage of the shuttle Columbia shows a deadly plume of super-heated air first began eating its way into the ship's left wing just five minutes after the orbiter fell into the discernible atmosphere."

    30 March 2003: Data Recorder Provides Useful Data on Shuttle's Last Moments, CAIB

    "The Columbia Accident Investigation Board announced today that there is significant data on the Orbiter Experiment Support System (OEX)."

    30 March 2003: Shuttles' Future May Hinge on Key Evidence, Washington Post

    "The future of NASA's three remaining space shuttles may now hang in part on deciphering an artifact from the past, a 1970s vintage reel-to-reel magnetic tape."

    27 March 2003: Review of Columbia's Data Recorder Will Begin This Weekend, CAIB

    A preliminary review of Columbia's data recorder, known as the Orbiter Experiments Supports System (OEX,) indicates that potential data may exist as late as 14:00:18 GMT on February 1, 2003.

    30 March 2003: NASA's chief aims to hook young minds on space, The Observer-Dispatch

    "There won't be a dramatic scene like (with the 1986 Challenger explosion) where a Dr. (Richard) Feynman drops an O-ring into a glass of cold water and it breaks," O'Keefe said. That demonstration settled a debate among experts about whether cold would make O-rings brittle. "There's not going to be a screaming 'ah-ha' moment," he said.

    30 March 2003: Space shuttle families' grace inspires NASA, O'Keefe says, The Post-Standard

    "The depth of tragedy was on the faces of all the families" of the shuttle astronauts, O'Keefe said, "and they were the first ones I talked to that morning."

    30 March 2003: Temperature rose in wing earlier than known, Spaceflight Now

    "A data recorder recovered in the wreckage of the shuttle Columbia shows hot gas entered the leading edge of the spacecraft's left wing within 16 seconds of the point when the orbiter entered the region of maximum aerodynamic heating during re-entry Feb. 1."

    29 March 2003: Space Agency Culture Comes Under Scrutiny, NY Times

    "Reticence within NASA on safety issues may have been reinforced by broad administrative changes that centralized authority for missions in Washington, said George W. S. Abbey, former director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Last year, NASA transferred control of the shuttle and space station from the Johnson center director to the NASA deputy associate administrator for space flights in Washington."

    Editor's note: Gee George, why is it that things were transferred from JSC to HQ last year?

    "That changes the decision process, the way you approach things," said Mr. Abbey, who was seen as an extraordinarily powerful director of the Johnson center but was dismissed two years ago because of cost overruns in the International Space Station program.

    Editor's note: Ah, now I remember.

    28 March 2003: Letter from NASA Adminstrator Sean O'Keefe to NIMA Director Clapper

    "As agreed during that session, we deeply appreciate your intention to make available the products of NIMA assets on a routine basis, without specific tasking from NASA. This will be very helpful as we continually asses the condition of the Shuttle during on-orbit operations. Significantly, your willingness to employ NIMA assets during targets of opportunity without specific tasking will be another useful source of information to help us assess the potential of on-orbit anomalies."

    29 March 2003: Spy Agency Agrees With NASA to Take Shuttle Photos, NY Times

    28 March 2003: Military Spy Satellites to Take Photos of Shuttle on Missions, Newsday

    29 March 2003: NASA to acquire shuttle images from agency using spy satellites, Houston Chronicle

    28 March 2003: Satellites will snap shuttle pictures, Orlando Sentinel

    28 March 2003: U.S. Satellites to Regularly Photograph NASA Shuttles, AP

    28 March 2003: Helicopter searches for debris halted, MSNBC

    "The helicopter crash dealt a blow to the search effort just as morale had been boosted by the find on March 19 of Columbia s flight data recorder, likely to play a crucial role in determining the cause of the disaster. On Thursday, sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News that the breadbox-sized recorder contains readings that continue 14 seconds later than any previously studied data."

    28 March 2003: NASA Expresses Concern and Condolences for Helicopter Crew

    "NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe expressed condolences and concern for the crew of the helicopter searching for Space Shuttle Columbia debris, which crashed yesterday in Texas."

    27 March 2003: Two Killed, Three Injured In Helicopter Crash

    "A helicopter crashed this evening near Hemphill, Texas while conducting Columbia debris recovery operations. The helicopter belonged to the U.S. Forest Service. According to initial reports, a Texas Forest Service ranger and the helicopter's pilot were killed. Two NASA employees and a Forest Service ranger are being treated at a Lufkin hospital."

    27 March 2003: Helicopter Crashes in Shuttle Search, AP

    27 March 2003: Data tape recorded Columbia's last seconds, Houston Chronicle

    27 March 2003: NASA: Shuttle tape could provide info, CNN

    27 March 2003: Missing Pieces of Columbia's Left Wing May Provide Clues, NY Times

    27 March 2003: Tape could shed light on last seconds of Columbia, AP

    26 March 2003: S.628 Columbia Orbiter Memorial Act

    26 March 2003: House Science Committee Approves Construction of Memorial to Columbia at Arlington National Cemetary

    "The House Science Committee today unanimously approved H.R. 1297, legislation authorizing the construction of a memorial to the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia at Arlington National Cemetery. There is already a memorial at Arlington to the seven-member crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger, who died in 1986. The House Veterans' Affairs Committee must also approve H.R. 1297 before it is considered on the House floor. The Senate approved the companion measure, S. 628, sponsored by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK), on March 18."

    26 March 2003: Safety Panel to NASA: Build a "Full Envelope" Shuttle Escape System, SpaceRef

    "NASA needs to stop studying crew escape systems for the Space Shuttle and start building them. Moreover, such an escape system should allow the crew to safely depart the Shuttle during all phases of flight - so says the agency's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel."

    27 March 2003: Rep. Hall: NASA Needs to Heed ASAP's Call For A Shuttle Crew Escape System

    "The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), chartered by Congress in 1967 to act as an independent body advising NASA on safety issues, released its annual report on Tuesday, March 25th. The report, which was finished before the Columbia accident, nevertheless focused on a number of Shuttle safety issues. In particular, the ASAP stated that "...the Panel reemphasizes the need for a crew escape system."

    26 March 2003: NASA Panel Urges Crew Escape System - Agency Is Accused of Neglecting Safety, Washington Post

    "The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, a group established by the NASA administrator after the 1986 loss of the space shuttle Challenger..."

    Editor's note: Wrong Jeff: "The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel is a senior advisory committee that reports to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Congress. The Panel was established by Congress after the Apollo 204 Command and Service Module spacecraft fire in January 1967." (source: ASAP website)

    "... the destruction of the Columbia on Feb. 1 and the loss of the Challenger 16 years ago.."

    Editor's note: Let's see: 2003 - 1986 = 17.

    "But several panelists challenged O'Keefe at the session, held in a cramped conference room of NASA's headquarters and attended by virtually all the agency's top managers."

    Editor's note: Let's see: Sean O'Keefe, Bryan O'Connor (Code Q AA). Fred Gregory, Paul Pastorek (NASA General Counsel - Code G), Bill Readdy (Code M AA) and Glenn Mahone (Code P AA) were present. The rest of the seats were taken up by media or ASAP staffers. To say that "virtually all the agency's top managers" were present you'd need a few more people in attendance. Alas, the Associate Administrators for Codes B, C, E, F, H, I, J, K, L, N, R, S, U, W, X, and Y were not present - nor were any of their Deputy Associate Administrators. Oh yes, then there are the Center Directors (who certainly qualify as "top managers") from MSFC, ARC, DFRC, JSC, GSFC, SSC, JPL, KSC, LaRC, and GRC - none of whom were present either.

    But yes Jeff, the room was a little cramped.

    25 March 2003: NASA urged to create shuttle escape system, UPI

    25 March 2003: NASA panel: Aging shuttles causing increasing problems, AP

    25 March 2003: Safety expert wants fewer flights, Orlando Sentinel

    25 March 2003: Safety panel presses NASA for shuttle escape system, Houston Chronicle

    25 March 2003: Safety Panel Urges NASA to Examine Shuttle Escape, NY Times

    25 March 2003: Columbia's safety margins misread, expert tells panel, Houston Chronicle

    "NASA displayed insufficient attention to safety precautions when it launched Columbia without ensuring it was able to withstand the impact of fuel tank insulation striking vulnerable sections of a wing, an expert told investigators on Tuesday."

    26 March 2003: Panel Examines Whether NASA Was Out of Touch With Safety Problems, NY Times

    "Steven B. Wallace, a board member on loan from the Federal Aviation Administration, went even further, saying that if commercial airline flights operated with the same reliability as the shuttle, there would be more than 500 fatal crashes a day."

    25 March 2003: Expert: NASA myopia led to shuttle flaws, UPI

    "NASA violated the space shuttle's operating parameters by continuing to fly despite foam insulation falling off the fuel tank and striking the ship, a launch vehicle and space systems expert testifying before the Columbia accident investigation board said Tuesday."

    24 March 2003: Columbia Water Damage Probed, Aviation Week Reports, Aviation Week and Space Technology

    "And in another military tie with the accident, AW&ST reports that an Air Force "Defense Support Program" (DSP) missile warning satellite, parked 22,000 mi. above the Pacific Ocean, first detected an abnormal thermal event on the exterior of the shuttle when the vehicle was still 700 mi. west of California just 26 sec. after the shuttle began to experience peak heating during reentry."

    24 March 2003: NASA Looks to Keep Shuttles Flying Until 2022, Reuters

    25 March 2003: Largely undamaged tape raises NASA's optimism, Houston Chronicle

    25 March 2003: 3 other shuttles may be needed for years, official says, NY Times

    24 March 2003: NASA hopes tape holds clues, Orlando Sentinel

    "In the near term, the outward appearance of the shuttles is unlikely to change, Kostelnik said. But as time goes on -- and NASA develops new vehicles to supplement or replace the shuttles -- that could change. For example, he said, the crew-ferrying capability of the proposed orbital space plane, which is supposed to be ready to go back and forth into orbit by 2012, could allow the shuttle to fly with fewer astronauts. That could mean a crew-escape system might be revived, he said, because taking astronauts off the shuttle's middeck opens up the possibility of using some kind of ejector seat."

    23 March 2003: Columbia Fallout May Hit Some NASA Centers, LA Times (registration required)

    "Goldin, a proponent of making NASA projects "faster, better, cheaper," launched what became known as a "strategic resources review." But he retired in November 2001, before it was done. O'Keefe, his successor, was warned at his Senate confirmation hearing in December 2001 not to meddle with the centers. Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), a guardian of the Stennis center, told O'Keefe that many lawmakers would object if he took steps toward shutting one down. Last year, O'Keefe quietly buried the resources review. On Friday, he said the review had yielded few noteworthy findings."

    23 March 2003: NASA managers missed chances to take closer look for tile damage, Orlando Sentinel

    "New details from internal NASA reports and transcripts of key meetings obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, confidential interviews with several participants, copies of e-mails and documents released under the Freedom of Information Act portray a shuttle program too comfortable with past successes and its ability to measure risk. The mind-set extended to the upper levels of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the agency's shuttle contractors."

    21 March 2003: NASA researched, dismissed foam as safety issue last year, Houston Chronicle

    "On Friday, NASA released additional documents showing the senior shuttle managers were unconcerned about possible foam damage to Columbia's wing. During five meetings while Columbia was in orbit, managers barely mentioned the issue and on Jan. 27 dismissed it as "not a safety-of-flight concern."

    21 March 2003: NASA Shift Could Rock Small Firms, Washington Post

    "If NASA makes major changes in the nation's manned space program after the loss of the shuttle Columbia, the companies watching nervously won't just be giant enterprises such as Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., which teamed up to form United Space Alliance, NASA's prime contractor for the shuttle program."

    20 March 2003: NASA Columbia Accident Suport Activities Reorganized, NASA HQ

    "NASA has reorganized its support of Shuttle accident related activities to better accommodate the investigation and align more closely with the structure adopted by the independent Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB)."

    20 March 2003: NASA pushes fall shuttle launch, Huntsville Times

    "A worst-case scenario would idle the shuttle fleet for more than two years, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said Wednesday at the meeting of the NASA Advisory Council. O'Keefe didn't voice an opinion on the likely outcome, although NASA managers and advisory council members are pushing to return to flight sooner rather than later."

    21 March 2003: Worries Grow on Space Flight's Future, Washington Post

    "Since the Columbia disintegrated over Texas last month, NASA's motto has been: Figure out the cause, fix it and get back to flight. Last week, however, agency officials acknowledged it likely could take 18 months to two years before the shuttle is flying again."

    Editor's note: NO, Eric that is NOT what they said. I was there too. Another reporter in the audience asked if NASA was looking at possible longer delays than the near term one that they were planning for. This is what I posted the last time the Post printed this misinterpretation: It would seem that the Washington Post is once again running with a story that is at odds with what everyone else who attended the same press briefing is writing. Contrary to the Post's assertion that "officials acknowledged yesterday that it likely could take 18 months to two years before the shuttle is flying again" the truth is that Readdy said that NASA was "looking out 18 months to 2 years". Readdy did not say that this is what NASA expects to be the case. Quite the contrary: Readdy repeated the agency's current plan as outlined in a 12 March letter (which was handed out at the briefing) wherein the agency is working towards a launch this Fall.

    Perhaps this is the comment by Bill Readdy they did not understand (from transcript):

    "QUESTIONER: Another thing I want to ask you about, primarily I am interested in the International Space Station. I am wondering if you are looking out. I know you are looking out 6 months and you are looking at 12 [inaudible] 18. How far out are you looking in terms of trying to prepare for operating without a Space Shuttle? Are you looking out 24 months? Are you looking out 30 months?

    MR. READDY: You know, I think our view right now is much nearer term. We are certainly looking out 18 months to 2 years. Why? You know, if you look at the aftermath of Challenger, you might say that would be a length of time that would be appropriate."

    20 March 2003: NASA pushes fall shuttle launch, Huntsville Times

    "A worst-case scenario would idle the shuttle fleet for more than two years, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said Wednesday at the meeting of the NASA Advisory Council. O'Keefe didn't voice an opinion on the likely outcome, although NASA managers and advisory council members are pushing to return to flight sooner rather than later."

    20 March 2003: NASA to extract data on Columbia tape, Washington Times

    20 March 2003: Investigators Optimistic That Shuttle Recorder Holds Clues, NY Times

    21 March 2003: NASA may have to wait a week to learn value of data recorder, Houston Chronicle

    21 March 2003: Shuttle recorder examined carefully, MSNBC

    20 March 2003: NASA: Experts Need Time to Analyze Shuttle 'Black Box', New York Post

    19 March 2003: Board hearing shows work to piece together known data, Spaceflight Now

    19 March 2003: Shuttle's data recorder found intact, CNN

    19 March 2003: Columbia Data Recorder Found, ABC

    "NASA investigators today recovered the flight recorder of the space shuttle Columbia, giving them new hope that they may be able to determine what caused the ship's breakup."

    19 March 2003: NASA to extend remaining shuttles' lives, UPI

    "NASA remains committed to flying the shuttles, provided the Columbia Accident Investigation Board does not return a finding that determines the craft are unsafe to resume operations, said Michael Kostelnik, deputy associate administrator for the space station and space shuttle programs. Kostelnik said he expects the board to come up with the probable cause of Columbia's demise within 30 to 40 days."

    19 February 2003: In Congress, Support Grows For Unmanned Space Flight, Washington Post

    "There's a lot of PR and public pressure to continue the manned space program, unless the shuttle [investigative] commission comes up with some radical findings or recommendations," said James Dyer, staff director of the House Appropriations Committee. "At times like this, people tend to rally around the flag."

    18 February 2003: Looking Ahead to NASA's Next Visit to the South side of Capitol Hill.

    Editor's note: Word has it that in the coming weeks, the House Science Committee is going to be rather tough on NASA's Code R wherein funding for the OSP resides. As such, look for the Committee to scrutinize Code R's FY 2004 budget rather closely. One of the main questions the Committee will be asking is why NASA just doesn't go ahead with a fully Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) - instead of pursuing both the OSP and the NGLV efforts as NASA says it plans to. They also want to know what the entire program is going to cost. Rumored estimates in the tens of billions of dollars have been heard.

    Also, look for House Science Committee Chair Sherwood Boehlert to be rather tough (at least in terms of the line of inquiry followed) on Sean O'Keefe throughout this process. Meanwhile, persistent grumbling continues among House Democratic staffers with regard to a number of issues with NASA - including the charter of the CAIB and Rep. Boehlert's usually cordial (and therefore suspect according to Democrats) relationship with NASA's Administrator.

    18 March 2003: Sen. Nelson denounces NASA, AP

    "U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said arrogance and a lack of communication among NASA officials contributed to the disintegration of the space shuttle Columbia six weeks ago. The former astronaut, who flew on Columbia in 1986, said Monday that the same problems befell the Challenger before it exploded in 1986."

    Editor's note: Senator, flying on a Space Shuttle as a political passenger 17 years ago doesn't make you a rocket scientist. Making such a simplistic linakge between these two accidents is clear evidence of lack of understanding about both events on your part.

    17 March 2003: Senator asks if NASA could have changed re-entry of shuttle, AP

    "Senator and former astronaut Bill Nelson says he wants to know if NASA could have changed the re-entry of space shuttle "Columbia.""

    Editor's note: Senator, haven't you (or your staff) been listening these past 6 weeks? This question was asked (and answered) weeks ago.

    18 March 2003: No Consensus on Cause of Shuttle Breakup, AP

    "Preliminary consideration of various possibilities has not yet pointed to one likely cause for the breakup of the space shuttle Columbia, NASA engineers told the accident investigation board Tuesday."

    18 March 2003: Shuttle Accident Cause May Never Be Fully Known, Reuters

    "I don't think we're ever going to be able to say absolutely 100 percent this is what it was, or zero percent this is what it was. We're going to be looking at what's the preponderance of evidence," said James Hallock, an aviation safety expert and member of the independent Columbia Accident Investigation Board."

    18 March 2003:
    Shuttle began to fall apart while over the Pacific Ocean, Orlando Sentinel

    "At a public hearing Monday, NASA flight director Paul Hill said he was surprised the orbiter maintained control for as long as it did."

    17 March 2003: Shuttle Columbia's 'Smoking Gun' Said West of Texas, Reuters

    "The space shuttle Columbia shed debris all the way from California to Texas during its final minutes of flight before breaking up in a fatal accident last month, a NASA official said on Monday. Experts said that if a smoking gun, a definitive clue to why Columbia disintegrated upon reentry to Earth's atmosphere, exists in the debris, it will likely come from the stream of parts that flew off before the shuttle reached Texas. To date, NASA has found nothing west of Texas."

    17 March 2003: CAIB Hearings [Session
    ] [Session

    17 March 2003: Board to share short shuttle tape, Orlando Sentinel

    16 March 2003: Shuttle probe follows a trail of data, MSNBC

    "Part of the shuttle's Global Positioning System receiver, the device has been sent to the vendor in Iowa in an attempt to read the last "state vector"- the precise position and time when the power was cut off by the cabin's separation from the rest of the fuselage."

    16 March 2003: CAIB Releases Columbia Debris Images, CAIB

    16 March 2003: STS-107 JSC MER Daily Reports, NASA JSC

    14 March 2003: Columbia Timeline: Revision 15 3.7 mb PDF), CAIB

    "March 13 revision of the series of timeline charts reconstructing the events prior to Columbia's loss."

    14 March 2003: Offer to photograph shuttle damage was declined by NASA, Houston Chronicle

    14 March 2003: Readdy says 'no rationale' for spy satellite inspection, Spaceflight Now

    14 March 2003: House staffers visit NASA, Houston Chronicle

    14 March 2003: Plans for Return to Space Flight, NASA HQ

    As the Columbia accident investigation proceeds, NASA outlines activities necessary to return the Space Shuttle to flight. Associate Administrator for Space Flight provides internal planning letter and organization chart.

    letter (PDF)
    Org Chart

    13 March 2003: NASA rejected spy photos plea for Columbia, UPI

    13 March 2003: Shuttle Team Sought Satellite Assessment of Liftoff Damage, NY Times

    "Two or three days after the space shuttle Columbia's liftoff, a group of NASA engineers asked the shuttle program manager to request the aid of United States spy satellites in determining the extent of debris damage to the shuttle's left wing, but the manager declined to do so, a senior NASA official said yesterday."

    13 March 2003: This photo is a fake

    Editor's note: I have gotten dozens of emails from all over the world - including NASA, asking me if these photos are real. They are not. The emails claim that the images were taken by some Israeli satellite. Doubtful. The lighting is wrong for objects in space, the Shuttle is too high over the Earth, it is at the wrong angle, and it is shown exploding in a way that has more in common with a toy model filled with lighter fluid than an actual spacecraft. Besides, Columbia broke up well into the atmosphere - in front of our eyes.

    Please stop sending me these photos to me - and please stop circulating them to others. They are fake and waste people's valuable time.

    Update: I have now gotten 8 emails from NASA Watch readers identifying these photos as having come from the ever-popular (if somewhat goofy) movie "Armageddon". Indeed, someone has already checked with NASA on this.

    12 March 2003: Fake shuttle pictures fool few, Orlando Sentinel

    13 March 2003: Long-ignored pinholes may have helped cause shuttle's demise, Knight Ridder

    "Experts have told NASA for years that simply covering the wings of a space shuttle while it sits on the launch pad could prevent a problem that investigators now think may have contributed to the destruction of the shuttle Columbia. But NASA ignored the recommendation, one of those experts told Knight Ridder on Wednesday, even though the idea had been endorsed by top materials researchers inside and outside the space agency."

    13 March 2003: A Joy That Defies His Absence - Alexandria Astronaut Mourned With Tales of Passion, Tears of Laughter, Washington Post

    "There is a single word that Dave Brown's friends used to describe him, a simple word, one that comes up again and again when they talk about what kind of person he was.


    12 March 2003: Columbia Video Shows Better View Of Debris Impact; Cause Still 'Elusive' , Aerospace Daily

    12 March 2003: NASA reasoning flawed, investigators told, The Citizen

    12 March 2003: Did NASA Waive Safety?, Time

    12 March 2003: Probe looks for weak spots on wing, Orlando Sentinel

    12 March 2003: Shuttle Probe Turns to Steering Adjustment, Washington Post

    12 March 2003: Investigators Focus on Shuttle's Skeleton, NY Times

    12 March 2003: Shuttle's age may have played role, Houston Chronicle

    11 March 2003: CAIB Briefing Transcript 11 March 2003, CAIB

    11 March 2003: CAIB Hearing Transcript 6 March 2003, CAIB

    11 March 2003: CAIB Press Conference Transcript 4 March 2003, CAIB

    11 March 2003: CAIB Releases New Photos, CAIB

    11 March 2003: Columbia Accident Investigation Board Releases Latest Version of Space Shuttle Timeline, CAIB (Excel format)

    11 March 2003: NASA Engineer Says He Never Anticipated Loss of the Shuttle, Washington Post

    "Until yesterday, Daugherty had declined to respond to media questions about the messages or explain why he worried in one e-mail that mission managers at the Johnson Space Center in Texas -- where the Columbia's flight was managed -- might be "relegated to crossing their fingers and hoping for the best."

    11 March 2003: Opening Statement by Robert Daugherty, Senior Research Engineer, NASA LaRC

    "I really do believe that the best thing I can do for the investigation is to talk to the investigation board first. On the other hand it is frustrating that my words are being misinterpeted. My quandry has now been relieved since the board has said they don't mind if I speak up."

    Editor's Note: NASA held a telecon yesterday for several dozen reporters during which Bob Daugherty and Mark Shuart from LaRC spoke about emails Daugherty sent prior to the Columbia accident. The reporter for the Washington Post was on the audio loop when Daugherty made this opening statement wherein Daugherty explains why he has not spoken publicly before this issue. Yet the Post makes no mention whatsoever of Daugherty's statement - or his explanation. Meanwhile, the Post's reporter apparently had a tape recording going because they make lengthy quotes from Daugherty's responses during the telecon. The way the Post has phrased their article, the reader is left with a flawed representation about what the key person in this story (Daugherty) actually said. That is most unfortunate for anyone (perhaps people on Capitol Hill?) trying to understand what is going on with this investigation - and relying upon the Post as a news source.

    Florida today pursued the same incomplete approach without making mention of what Daugherty said about not speaking out until now.

    "Daugherty's teleconference came just days after Administrator Sean O'Keefe sparred with reporters, who expressed skepticism about NASA's contention that all of its engineers were in agreement with analysis that Columbia was not damaged badly enough to pose a safety risk. The reporters asked to talk with Daugherty, and others, whose e-mailed messages used a tone that expressed frustration that they were not being heard."

    Same goes for although they got a lot closer to what Daugherty said - except for why he hadn't spoken until now:

    "Daugherty said he feels his e-mails received the proper attention by the appropriate people, but he was surprised by how much attention they received since the accident and that he was frustrated that they were misinterpreted. He hoped the teleconference with reporters would help clear the air and put into context a number of his more oft quoted remarks."

    USA Today also missed this very important remark as did the Orlando Sentinel.

    12 March 2003: Waiting for the Post's Correction

    Editor's note: scanning through my print copy of the Post this morning I noticed no mention of this error in the paper's regular "corrections" box. Perhaps we'll see one tomorrow?

    Meanwhile, other reporters were apparently paying attention to what Daugherty said:

    11 March 2003: NASA engineer says e-mail was misleading, Daily Press

    "After five weeks of silence, Daugherty spoke to reporters about his work with the Columbia mission. He said the Columbia Accident Investigation Board recently gave him permission to clear up what he called misconceptions about his e-mails, which seemed to express frustration with NASA officials."

    11 March 2003: Engineer who raised red flag defends NASA, CNN

    "Daugherty sought permission from NASA's independent investigation board to speak to reporters because he felt some of his e-mail comments had been misconstrued."

    11 March 2003: Engineers recount shuttle shock, MSNBC

    "Daugherty and Shuart spoke with reporters in a conference call organized by NASA, with staff from the agency's headquarters in Washington listening. The two previously had declined to talk about the e-mails, citing the investigation by the board looking into the accident. They said Monday the board indicated that speaking with reporters wouldn't hamper the probe."

    10 March 2003: Sean O'Keefe Does Brunch With the Press, SpaceRef

    "Both visibly tired, O'Keefe and Bill Readdy sat down with several dozen reporters for a 2 hour brunch on Friday, 28 February. Despite countless media opportunities since the Columbia accident, this was the first time O'Keefe had the time to elaborate on his thoughts with reporters without deferring to the necessity of sound bites."

    10 March 2003: Shuttle Overhaul May Follow NASA Review, Washington Post

    10 March 2003: Russia Says Funding Needed For Station Flights, Washington Post

    10 March 2003: Crew may have tried to regain control of Columbia, USA Today

    "If the shuttle was pitching violently in those last seconds, Husband or pilot Willie McCool may have fallen against his control stick. But they also might've been trying to get the shuttle under control. "If the crew noticed the attitude (the shuttle's position) was going funny, they would've grabbed it," Meade says. "Either scenario is possible."

    10 March 2003: Did crew grab controls?, Orlando Sentinel

    "A NASA timeline offers a conflicting glimpse inside shuttle Columbia's cockpit, where some data indicate the astronauts may have tried to take the ship off autopilot and fly manually in the final seconds of the doomed flight."

    9 March 2003: Telemetry shows autopilot on through last transmission, Spaceflight Now

    "Ongoing analysis of the final two seconds of telemetry from the shuttle Columbia during re-entry Feb. 1 shows the doomed ship's fuselage, crew module, right wing and right-side rocket pod were essentially intact 32 seconds after the commander's final transmission and that the orbiter's digital autopilot was still flying the spacecraft."

    9 March 2003: New Analysis Sees Shuttle Breakup Beginning Earlier, NY Times

    "The analysis is in a document called Rev. 14, the 14th revision of the timeline, completed late last week but not made public. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board, led by Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr., is planning to release a subsequent version, Rev. 15, which is supposed to be completed on Monday. As the names imply, neither is considered final."

    9 March 2003: Exploration Heritage To Grace Florida Quarter, WKMG

    "With over 400,00 votes tallied, Florida will be represented on the U.S. Mint's commemorative quarter by the "Gateway to Discovery" design featuring a 16th century Spanish galleon and the 20th century space shuttle."

    8 March 2003: Astronaut Anderson remembered as 'Christian, father, friend', Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    8 March 2003: An Elegy in Air Force Blues - With Martial Precision and Polished Poise, Astronaut Is Laid to Rest, Washington Post

    "The 43-year-old payload specialist is posthumously awarded three medals for his distinguished service to his country, and top NASA and Air Force brass kneel tenderly on the sodden ground to comfort his bewildered children. He is eulogized by his best friend, who wears Air Force blues and speaks of Anderson's deep faith. Chaplain Richard Hum, a colonel himself, notes that Anderson had asked his church congregation back home in Houston to pray that his space mission be used "for the glory of God."

    8 March 2003: Panel probing shuttle severing link to NASA, Knight Ridder

    "While not looking for individuals to blame, board members say their early work indicates that the agency's management will be a target, yet O'Keefe wrote the board to say he is worried that the panel may be "prejudging the facts." "If we're upsetting people, then we must be doing something right," board member James Hallock said in an interview Thursday. The board is purposely distancing itself from NASA, board member Scott Hubbard said."

    9 March 2003: Idea of tile repairs in space faded after 1st shuttle flight, Orlando Sentinel

    "In January 1980, Martin Marietta was awarded a $2.1 million contract to build the repair kit. Though there were testing problems, an internal NASA committee had concluded that the kit was necessary. Then, abruptly, 10 months before the first shuttle launch, NASA officials decided a kit would not be on board. Martin Marietta was ordered to stop development of the kit, said a Lockheed Martin official familiar with the company's involvement with the process who spoke on condition of anonymity."

    9 March 2003: Problems with NASA's management ways, Houston Chronicle

    "Interestingly, while Columbia was still in orbit several NASA engineers exchanged e-mails postulating that such a catastrophic event could occur. But little was done to pass the engineers' concerns up the line. It appears that the possibilities as outlined in engineers' e-mails were too quickly dismissed by some NASA officials and didn't get disseminated to others, who might have acted in some way to recognize the potential for disaster."

    8 March 2003: Panel probes why flights made after Atlantis hit, Houston Chronicle

    8 March 2003: Analysis by NASA of risks is faulted, Knight Ridder

    8 March 2003: NASA is weighing changes to shuttle, Orlando Sentinel

    8 March 2003: NASA works to eliminate failure scenarios, Spaceflight Now

    8 March 2003: Arlington burial honors Anderson of Columbia crew, Orlando Sentinel

    8 March 2003: Investigators will drop a key shuttle manager, Orlando Sentinel

    "Linda Ham, a top-level space shuttle program manager and the leader of NASA's Mishap Response Team, on Monday will be replaced in her role in the Columbia investigation, agency sources said Friday."

    Editor's note: NASA sources tell us that there are currently no plans to reassign Ron Dittemore.

    7 March 2003: Photo of Columbia Yields New Clues , Washington Post

    "A fuzzy Air Force photo of the space shuttle Columbia in its final moments is revealing more to investigators than they first realized, including what may be a vortex of superheated air roiling over the left wing and a section of heat-shield panels missing from the leading edge."

    7 March 2003: Investigators Look at NASA Communications, AP

    "Board spokeswoman Laura Brown said the fourth team will "look into NASA culture and some of the issues" raised during Thursday's public hearing in Houston by former NASA official Henry McDonald.
    Brown said the new team will include Nobel Prize-winning physicist Douglas Osheroff of Stanford University and the director of George Washington University's Space Policy Institute, John Logsdon."

    8 March 2003: Critics assail NASA's risk assessment, Houston Chronicle

    "Although Stamatelatos said the space agency has completed a PRA for the space station, NASA still does not require contractors, such as Boeing, to include a PRA for a space station component when it is delivered. Boeing and other aerospace contractors routinely do this for commercial airplanes."

    6 March 2003: Bureaucracy Marches On

    "Having left the agency, I had to file a FOIA request for my own memos." - Former ARC Center Director Harry McDonald testifying before the CAIB this afternoon.

    6 March 2003: Statement of Henry McDonald on appearing before the CAIB

    "I would like to conclude by recalling two statements from our report, one being "The Shuttle program is one of the most complex engineering activities undertaken anywhere in the world at the present time" and the other being "The SIAT was continually impressed with the skill, dedication, commitment and concern for astronaut safety of the entire Shuttle workforce". I see no reason to qualify either of these remarks today."

    6 March 2003: NASA Records in Disarray, Study Leader Tells Board, NY Times

    "When someone like Dittemore goes and tries to make an assessment of what his risk is, the instant access to all of that past history would have been valuable, incredibly valuable, I think." But the NASA records are not in a form that can be searched by modern tools like Web browsers, he said, because they are too old. He said the records began as simple tracking systems to see if problems were addressed and were not designed to search for trends."

    6 March 2003: Witness Chides NASA in Assessing Risk, Washington Post

    "McDonald, testifying during the first public hearing of the investigating board, said NASA has again fallen prey to "systemic" flaws in reasoning -- such as the creeping acceptance of poorly understood risks in operating the space shuttle -- that may require major changes in the agency's culture and technology to correct."

    7 March 2003: Ex-NASA official blames how agency rates risks, AP

    "McDonald said he was disappointed the space agency did not adopt more of his team's recommendations. He noted that the same type of communication breakdown he warned about seems to have hindered engineers who evaluated damage to Columbia's left wing by launch debris and concluded the shuttle and its astronauts were safe."

    6 March 2003: NASA Seeks Truth in Shuttle Inquiry, OpEd, by Sean O'Keefe, NY Times

    "But clearly, something on this mission went tragically wrong. And we're committed to receiving and acting on the board's recommendations so that our country's space research and exploration activities can move forward."

    4 March 2003: Shuttle Myopia, OpEd, NY Times

    "How high up the NASA management structure these debates over a possible catastrophe percolated has not yet been revealed. Sean O'Keefe, the agency's administrator, said that he had been unaware of the technical disagreements while they were occurring, but he questioned whether top managers should be routinely involved in technical issues that lie beyond their technical competence. That seems a misguided segmentation of responsibilities in an agency where a technical failure can bring operations to a halt and threaten the very survival of manned space programs."

    5 March 2003: NASA Runs the Press Gauntlet: Mission Operations and Email, SpaceRef

    "Associate Administrator for Space Flight Bill Readdy sat down for an hour or so with a dozen reporters earlier this week. The intent was to provide background on how launch, on-orbit, and landing decisions were considered and implemented during a Space Shuttle mission. Half way through the session NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe popped in. Soon, with the prodding of reporters, what had been a routine briefing with lots of detail and minimal sound bites became a bit of a low grade confrontation between O'Keefe and some of the assembled NASA press corps - and the original purpose of the briefing was all but forgotten. Indeed, no one, except me seems to have bothered to try and report the full breadth of what was said."

    5 March 2003: Rush Limbaugh Will Fall for Anything (surprise surprise)

    Editor's note: check out this page on Rush's website (sent to me by a NASA Watch reader). What you see is an image of Europe and Africa which Rush claims "was taken from the shuttle Columbia on its last mission and relayed by satellite, which is why we have it." WRONG. Altitude, lack of cloud cover, and mid-oceanic ridge visibility issues aside, this is clearly a computer-generated image. Have a look at the wonderful Earth and Moon Viewer website in Switzerand. Specifically this page. In a few hours the simulation will match Rush's "photograph" precisely. Check your sources a little better next time Rush.

    5 March 2003: Panel Leader Wants to Add Three to Inquiry Into Columbia, NY Times

    5 March 2003: Columbia Accident Investigation Board Chairman Names New Members, CAIB

    "Columbia Accident Investigation Board Chairman Adm. Hal Gehman has asked National Aeronautics and Space Administration Administrator Sean O'Keefe to appoint three new members to the CAIB. Those members are: Nobel Prize laureate in Physics Dr. Douglas Osheroff; former NASA astronaut and physicist Dr. Sally Ride; and George Washington University Space Policy Institute Director Dr. John Logsdon."

    5 March 2003: Columbia Accident Investigation Board News Conference (transcript), CAIB

    "The board remains completely determined and energized of finding the answer to this problem. We are still working seven days a week. Our energy and our seriousness have not flagged. We still have confidence that we're going to find the cause--the direct cause and determine the contributing causes. We are dedicated to that end, and we have no slacking off. We're not getting discouraged just because we haven't found it so far."

    5 March 2003: Columbia Accident Investigation Board Public Hearing

    "The speakers include: Jefferson D. Howell, Jr., Director, Johnson Space Center; Ron Dittemore, NASA Shuttle Program Manager; Keith Chong, Boeing Company Senior Engineer/Scientist, Expendable Launch Systems; and Dr. Harry McDonald, professor of computational engineering at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga."

    4 March 2003: CAIB Press Briefing, NASA KSC (RealVideo)

    4 March 2003: Molten Aluminum Found on Columbia Tiles, AP

    "Molten aluminum was found on Columbia's thermal tiles and inside the leading edge of the left wing, bolstering the theory that the shuttle was destroyed by hot gases that penetrated a damaged spot on the wing, the accident investigation board said Tuesday."

    5 March 2003: NASA chief defends handling of e-mails, Washington Times

    4 March 2003: NASA holds fast on e-mail procedure, Houston Chronicle

    4 March 2003: It's too early to start pointing fingers, NASA says, Orlando Sentinel

    4 March 2003: NASA Chief: Internal Review Premature, CBS

    NASA will not formally reconsider whether internal concerns about Columbia's safety should have been sent to senior mission controllers until after it learns the conclusions of the board investigating the shuttle disaster, the space agency's administrator said Tuesday.

    4 March 2003: NASA: No Changes Ahead of Probe Findings, AP

    "We're not sure what it is that caused this," O'Keefe said, citing the investigation by the board. "When they have decided that, that's when that question gets an answer, with clarity rather than someone's opinion."

    4 March 2003: JSC Media Roundtable Transcript: email exchanges

    "JSC flight engineers Bob Doremus and Jeff Kling discussed e-mails they exchanged with colleagues during Columbia's mission. Roundtable held at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas on Feb. 26."

    3 March 2003: Several scientists recommended for board, Houston Chronicle

    "Scientists and others taking shots at the Columbia Accident Investigation Board for its gap in technical expertise aren't without constructive suggestions for additions to the panel."

    Editor's note: among the names listed: "Robert Park, University of Maryland physicist." To put someone on this panel such as Bob Park, someone with such an avowed, long standing anti-human spaceflight bias would be a disservice not only to the crew of Columbia, but to America's space program as a whole. Bob Park has ZERO technical expertise when it comes to human spaceflight.

    13 February 2003: O'Keefe says humans needed in space, Houston Chronicle

    "Park said there is nothing that has been done on the shuttle or space station that has had "any significant impact on science." "You could justify humans in space for other reasons, like good public relations, but not for scientific reasons," he said."

    5 February 2003: Is human space travel worth the risk? , Seattle Times

    "Robert Park, director of the American Physical Society's office of public information and a frequent NASA critic, said space-station research "is not very important. As a measure of this, virtually none of that research has ever been published in science journals."

    2 March 2003: STS-107: U.S. Air Force Optical Supercomputing Site (AMOS) Imagery, NASA JSC

    2 March 2003: A Ming Emperor Would Have Grounded the Shuttle. Bad Idea,, Washington Post

    "One can hear echoes of such voices today from Americans who call on the United States to abandon space and redirect the funds to worthy projects closer to home. And, from one perspective, that is reasonable. But it should not be allowed to happen. Our space program is as symbolic as it is practical. Abandoning it would have every bit as profound an effect on the American psyche as the cancellation of the treasure fleet did on the Ming Dynasty. For the continuing manned exploration of space grows out of an aspect of our history that has been a fundamental part of our national mythology since the beginning: the exploration of frontiers. That undertaking has never been free of risks."

    2 March 2003: A service for one who dared to 'soar through outer space', Baltimore Sun

    "The academy's mastery of tradition and ceremony was on crisp display during the 90-minute remembrance inside and outside the century-old chapel, built above the tomb of naval hero John Paul Jones. A Navy harpist played. Mourners sang the 19th-century Navy Hymn ("Eternal Father, Strong to Save") with a verse added in 1961 to recognize the hazards of spaceflight: "Oh, hear us when we seek thy grace/ For those who soar through outer space."

    1 March 2003: NASA will reluctantly reassign key Shuttle management

    Editor's note: The wording of Sean O'Keefe's 28 Feb 2003 letter has lead to some conflicting interpretations in the media. Despite reports to the contrary, NASA Watch has learned that several Shuttle program managers will indeed be reassigned by NASA, per the CAIB's request - albeit rather reluctantly. Senior NASA management is quite adamant that they do not want anyone singled out before the CAIB's final report is even written - hence their reluctance to remove people from their positions.

    On the other hand, NASA is also concerned about having certain individuals confronted with potential conflicts that might arise while attempting to both carry out their operational responsibilities as well as honor the requests made by the ongoing accident investigation wherein their previous actions might come under scrutiny. As such, (per O'Keefe's letter) NASA will restructure its support efforts for the CAIB and use non-Shuttle personnel to assist their investigation.

    25 February 2003: Letter from Adm. Gehman to Sean O'Keefe Regarding CAIB Request for Personnel Reassignments, CAIB

    "Now that the initial recovery and response actions are behind us and operations are more predictable and mangeable, the Board requests that you reassign the top level Space Shuttle Program management personnel who were invlved in the preparat

    February 2003

    January 2003

    10 January 2003: STS-107 Safety Issue Being Worked

    Internal NASA memo: "MP01/Alex McCool: The Shuttle Program is currently working one major safety
    issue (cracked Orbiter ball strut) associated with the upcoming STS-107 Flight Readiness Review
    this Thursday (1/9/03) and the subsequent launch on 1/16/03. MSFC employees put in long hours over the holiday break and worked in the spirit of One NASA with employees at other NASA Centers to test the Orbiter hardware and saw no potential issues as of this morning that would prohibit launch. The Shuttle Program team will reconvene this afternoon to assess the status of this issue."

    January 2003: Space Shuttle Processing Status 9 Jan 2003

    "No inspections are planned on Columbia related to the BSTRA ball crack evaluation."



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