August 26, 2003 |
After an 18-day mission more notable for its technical failures than anything else, the space shuttle Columbia returned to Earth on Dec. 7, 1996, carrying another unpleasant surprise for NASA officials. Ground crews inspecting Columbia's underbelly found 244 potholes, gouges and dimples in its delicate thermal protection system -- some of the worst damage ever noted on a returning shuttle. NASA officials blamed foam debris that fell off the shuttle's external tank for the damage.
August 25, 2003 |
About 84,000 traumatized pieces -- twisted aluminum, charred ceramic tile and shreds of tire rubber -- lie on a massive grid of yellow tape in a hangar at Kennedy Space Center. For seven months, an army of workers has delicately assembled the shards into the ghostly outline of what once was the shuttle Columbia -- key clues in determining why the orbiter plunged out of the blue Texas sky in February.
August 20, 2003 |
Curators at the National Air and Space Museum are wrestling with the delicate question of how to present the Challenger and Columbia tragedies. Specifically, should an exhibition on the space shuttle include pieces of wreckage? Doing so would be a departure for the museum. Until now the tragedies of airplane and space travel have been dealt with briefly -- as concise mentions in explanatory panels or the display of simple artifacts, such as a crew patch.
August 16, 2003 |
The problem of foam debris -- believed to have brought down the Columbia -- may never be completely solved and could damage space shuttles on future missions, two members of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board said this week. The orbiter's delicate thermal protection system was gravely damaged by a large chunk of foam during January's launch -- the latest instance of insulation falling off the space shuttle's giant external tank during the program's 22-year history.
August 7, 2003 |
Seven asteroids circling the sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter are being named for the astronauts who died in the space shuttle Columbia accident, officials announced. Rick D. Husband, William C. McCool, Michael P. Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David M. Brown and Laurel Clark of NASA and Ilan Ramon of Israel died Feb. 1 when Columbia broke apart.
July 31, 2003 |
Investigators say Boeing's loss of key engineering talent in recent years played a role in the company's flawed analysis during the Columbia mission that the crew would return safely. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board is likely to include such a judgment when it delivers its accident report later this month, though its formal findings and conclusions are still under review, according to four sources close to the board. At issue is whether Boeing Co.'
July 28, 2003 |
Ever since the shuttle accident, rocket engineer Jud Lovingood has spent difficult days wondering whether he could have prevented the tragic deaths of seven astronauts. "When something bad happens, like killing a bunch of people, you just think: 'What could we have done that we didn't do?' " Lovingood said in a recent interview. "I was shocked. I was sick. I could never make an engineering decision that put a life at risk again."
July 23, 2003 |
NASA's top managers for the doomed Columbia space shuttle mission publicly defended their actions for the first time Tuesday, saying that no individual should be blamed personally for the accident because safety was always their top priority. "It goes without saying that we were all trying to do the right thing," Linda Ham, the chairwoman of the team that ran the mission, said in her first public comments on the disaster. "Nobody wanted to do harm to anyone.
July 16, 2003 |
The crew of the Columbia lived for at least one minute after their last communication with NASA ground controllers in Houston, a potentially important finding that could affect future efforts to improve the survivability of space shuttle accidents, investigators said Tuesday.
July 12, 2003 |
Analysis of a crucial test in the Columbia accident investigation suggests that the age of a damaged wing shield may not have played a central role in the space shuttle's breakup, a leading investigator said Friday. Columbia, first launched in 1981, was NASA's oldest shuttle. The wing shield that investigators believe failed during reentry Feb. 1 had flown on all 28 Columbia missions before the disaster, investigators said.