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Space Shuttle Program

May 10, 2003 | From Times Wire Reports
A former Marine officer who has held engineering and management jobs in three NASA centers is taking over as manager of the space shuttle program as the space agency tries to recover from the Columbia disaster. William W. Parsons, 47-year-old director of NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, was named the new manager of the space shuttle program, succeeding Ron Dittemore, who acted as NASA's most prominent spokesman after the loss of Columbia.
April 24, 2003 | Scott Gold, Times Staff Writer
Some of the original architects of America's space shuttle program told investigators Wednesday that they never designed the spacecraft to withstand a forceful strike from any object, much less the large chunks of foam insulation that pounded the Columbia 16 days before it disintegrated.
April 20, 2003 | From a Times Staff Writer
Ron Dittemore, manager of NASA's space shuttle program, is expected to resign as early as this week and move to a job in private industry, a government source said Saturday. Immediately after the space shuttle Columbia was destroyed Feb. 1, Dittemore took the lead role in explaining what the space agency knew before the disaster and whether it could have been prevented.
March 13, 2003 | Ralph Vartabedian, Times Staff Writer
Senior NASA officials discussed whether to ask the Central Intelligence Agency to use spy satellites to photograph the Columbia while it was in orbit, but they decided it would not prove useful, Lambert Austin, a space shuttle official at the Johnson Space Center, said Wednesday. Austin said engineers had held a series of discussions about using CIA photographic satellites to determine whether the shuttle had been crippled during its launch by foam debris falling off the external fuel tank.
February 4, 2003
Cancel the space shuttle now. NASA claimed the shuttle would be as reliable as a commercial airliner. We now know the odds of catastrophic failure are 1 in 56. NASA projected the cost of each shuttle launch to be $5 million in today's dollars. The actual cost has increased a hundred-fold to $500 million per launch. When fully operational, NASA planned to schedule 52 shuttle launches a year. The current schedule is four per year. Yet NASA plans to continue operating the shuttle until 2020, when the craft will be 40 years old. Its technology is already 30 years out of date and cannot exploit major breakthroughs achieved since then in rocket motor design, electronics, materials science and computer technology.
February 3, 2003
The space shuttle program faded from national consciousness as the 1986 Challenger disaster faded from memory. The shuttles became less explorers and more workhorses, hauling construction materials to the International Space Station. Saturday the Challenger leaped to memory again, but in a world that could no longer assume that the trails of smoking debris in the sky were merely the result of a tragic accident.
February 3, 2003 | Steve Chawkins and Richard Fausset, Times Staff Writers
When Columbia made the first space shuttle landing at Edwards Air Force Base in April 1981, it was an event the size of Woodstock. About 500,000 people gathered to watch, breaking into applause when the craft cruised into view and touched down safely. In that moment, after decades of tantalizing boom and frustrating bust, the Antelope Valley seemed to have earned its nickname, Aerospace Valley.
July 10, 2002 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
A brush fire of unknown origin charred about 100 acres near a launch pad where the space shuttle was once supposed to take off. Monday's fire, located on the remote southern shoreline of the base, burned grass just north of an area that was charred in late June. The June blaze burned 7,782 acres on the Sudden Ranch property, close to the Point Arguello Coast Guard Lifeboat Rescue Station.
The crash of a private aircraft in Baja California over the weekend claimed the life of a former aerospace executive who once headed space shuttle operations for Rockwell International Corp. La Palma resident Richard E. Thomas, 69, and his flying partner, Andir Rizk Maroun, 55, were killed Friday when their aircraft crashed while trying to land in Punta Pescadero, a fishing village near La Paz, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Mexican news agency Notimex and friends.
September 7, 2001 | From Associated Press
Some planned upgrades to the nation's aging space shuttle program are being canceled or delayed, partly because of unanticipated expenses confronting the space program, a top NASA official said Thursday. Budget problems could affect space shuttle safety, William Readdy, a deputy associate administrator for NASA, told a Senate Commerce subcommittee. He said some projects were "being evaluated for cancellation or deferral . . .
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