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Space Shuttle Accidents

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NATIONAL
February 10, 2003 | From Associated Press
The Americans who died aboard the space shuttle Columbia were eligible for the standard life insurance offered to military personnel and federal employees, but NASA carried no special coverage specifically for astronauts, officials say. "There is a limit on what type of benefits the federal government provides," said NASA spokeswoman Eileen Hawley. "We look at this as larger than a monetary issue," she said. "We are committed to helping these families and we have a support network. They are ...
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NATIONAL
February 2, 2005 | From Times Wire Reports
Family members of the astronauts who died aboard the space shuttle Columbia watched as officials dedicated a granite memorial in Houston on the second anniversary of the accident that killed the seven-member crew. The monument consists of a concrete pedestal topped with a granite slab and a black plaque honoring the men and women "who made the supreme sacrifice to advance humankind."
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NATIONAL
July 28, 2003 | Ralph Vartabedian, Times Staff Writer
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."
NATIONAL
August 14, 2004 | From Reuters
The foam that struck the space shuttle Columbia soon after liftoff was improperly applied to the shuttle's external fuel tank, NASA said Friday. The official investigation into the accident, conducted by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, left the matter open, since none of the foam or the fuel tank could be recovered for study.
NATIONAL
February 4, 2003 | Peter G. Gosselin and Maura Reynolds, Times Staff Writers
The Bush administration said Monday that it had agreed to seek a significant increase in the budget for NASA's space shuttle program even before Saturday's disintegration of Columbia, but the space agency's own figures cast doubt on the size of the hike. Budget director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. said in unveiling the administration's $2.
NATIONAL
February 3, 2004 | From Times Wire Reports
NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe dedicated a memorial to the space shuttle Columbia's astronauts at Arlington National Cemetery, eulogizing them as "pilots, engineers and scientists all motivated by a fire within." The dedication took place a year and a day after the craft disintegrated on its return to Earth, claiming the lives of the crew -- Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon.
NATIONAL
March 1, 2003 | Scott Gold, Times Staff Writer
They were cruising along at 25 times the speed of sound, more than 500,000 feet above the South Pacific. By then, there was little to do but enjoy the ride and rediscover the simple pleasures of life on Earth -- like gravity. At 7:45 a.m. CST on Feb. 1, astronaut William C. McCool, the pilot of the space shuttle Columbia, picked up a cardboard page of his flight manual and then let go. During the previous 16 days, the page would have hovered in front of him, suspended in a zero-gravity state.
NATIONAL
July 9, 2003 | From Associated Press
Superheated gases breached the left wing of the 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. Unlike Columbia, Atlantis suffered no irreparable damage during the May 2000 episode and, after repairs, returned to flight four months later. NASA ordered fleet-wide changes in the installation of protective wing panels and sealant materials in response to the breach.
NATIONAL
August 8, 2003 | John-Thor Dahlburg, Times Staff Writer
The panel of experts set up to monitor NASA's compliance with soon-to-be-released shuttle safety recommendations met publicly for the first time Thursday, with a veteran astronaut promising an independent assessment of the agency's performance. "Our task is to look at those things that have been recommended The Columbia Accident Investigation Board -- which is probing the causes of the Feb. 1 shuttle breakup that killed seven astronauts -- is expected to release its findings Aug.
NATIONAL
August 7, 2003 | From Times Wire Reports
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.
NATIONAL
May 21, 2004 | From Times Wire Reports
The first pieces of debris from the space shuttle Columbia have been loaned to private-sector researchers under a plan to make the orbiter available for study, NASA said. Unlike the remains of its sister shuttle Challenger, which was destroyed in a launch accident in 1986 and later buried in an abandoned missile silo, NASA decided to catalog each of the thousands of pieces of Columbia recovered from Texas and Louisiana and make them available for researchers who applied for access.
NATIONAL
February 21, 2004 | From Times Wire Reports
A full year after the Columbia tragedy, NASA has finally determined how and why the large piece of foam insulation that doomed the space shuttle broke off from the fuel tank at liftoff. NASA's top spaceflight official, Bill Readdy, said that through extensive testing, the agency has learned that air liquefied by the super-cold fuel in the tank almost certainly seeped into a crack or void in the foam, or collected around bolts and nuts beneath the foam.
NATIONAL
February 3, 2004 | From Times Wire Reports
NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe dedicated a memorial to the space shuttle Columbia's astronauts at Arlington National Cemetery, eulogizing them as "pilots, engineers and scientists all motivated by a fire within." The dedication took place a year and a day after the craft disintegrated on its return to Earth, claiming the lives of the crew -- Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon.
SCIENCE
December 25, 2003 | Robert Lee Hotz, Times Staff Writer
Just after 10 a.m. during the second of Columbia's 16 full days in orbit, something drifted away from the shuttle at the speed of a brisk walk. Columbia was flying at 17,500 mph, tail-first and upside down, its open cargo bay pointing toward the planet below. The object, measuring no more than 1 square foot, began to spin faster and faster. It took 2 1/2 days to fall out of orbit and burn up in the atmosphere. It twirled and twinkled as it fell to Earth.
SCIENCE
December 24, 2003 | Robert Lee Hotz, Times Staff Writer
Fragments of Columbia were laid out on a vast concrete floor like broken bones on an autopsy table. Seared shards, wet with pine needles and caked with mud, were barely recognizable as fuselage, wings, tail and flaps. Once-sleek contours were crusted with charcoal-colored stove canker. Wing parts had been honed to a razor's edge by superheated gases.
SCIENCE
December 21, 2003 | Robert Lee Hotz, Times Staff Writer
James Hallock discovered just how little it takes to bring down a space shuttle. He did it by playing with pencils. As a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, the pear-shaped, bewhiskered expert on flight safety had a New Englander's flinty skepticism and a physicist's distaste for untested accident theories. On this day, Hallock, 62, scowled at specifications for the reinforced carbon panels that shielded the leading edge of Columbia's wings from the heat of reentry.
NATIONAL
August 27, 2003 | Ralph Vartabedian and Peter Pae, Times Staff Writers
The Columbia investigation concluded Tuesday that the accident that killed seven astronauts was indisputably caused by foam debris, but it also blamed NASA for squelching internal critics, cutting inspections and hewing to an unrealistic launch schedule. The 248-page final report issued a broad indictment of NASA's safety compromises and flawed internal culture, which it said played an equally important role in the tragedy on Feb. 1 that destroyed the $2-billion spacecraft.
NATIONAL
August 28, 2003 | Peter Pae and Ralph Vartabedian, Times Staff Writers
NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, responding to a scathing report that blamed the Columbia accident on a broken safety culture, vowed Wednesday to make sweeping changes that would "reinvigorate" the beleaguered space agency. But the immediate task of getting the shuttle to fly again -- perhaps as early as next spring -- could cost "hundreds of millions of dollars," and complying with all the recommendations could cost immeasurably more, O'Keefe said in an interview.
NATIONAL
September 9, 2003 | Ralph Vartabedian, Times Staff Writer
One of the highest-ranking officials in the space shuttle program to have survived the management housecleaning after the Columbia accident acknowledged Monday that the agency made serious errors. William F. Readdy, associate administrator for spaceflight, outlined plans NASA is making to improve the safety of the shuttle fleet and resume flights, including fixing the problem of foam debris during launches and developing a way to repair a damaged shuttle in space.
NATIONAL
September 4, 2003 | Nick Anderson, Times Staff Writer
Following a scathing report on the lapses that led to the loss of the space shuttle Columbia, Republican and Democratic senators on Wednesday pressed the NASA administrator to find those responsible for the disaster and hold them accountable. But Sean O'Keefe, NASA chief, refused to assign blame during his congressional testimony or in a subsequent meeting with reporters.
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