28 February 2003 - Friday - NASA has
cockpit video, shot
minutes before Columbia broke up. It is sad
and eerie to watch - they were so close to home! At least the
them happy and doing what they loved. The recording is introduced by
(the last man to
land Columbia), and ends before there was
any sign of trouble. Watch it
NASA Releases STS-107 Flight Deck Video
released a video that was filmed by STS-107 crewmembers during
re-entry on Feb. 1. The video is about 13 minutes long, beginning about
[8:35AM EST/1335 GMT] and ending about 11 minutes before the Mission
Control Center in Houston lost contact with Space Shuttle Columbia.
The video, which was filmed on the flight deck, contains footage of
crewmembers conversing and going through the re-entry checklist. The video was
recovered Feb. 6 near Palestine, Texas.
Statement by Astronaut Scott Altman about the content of
the flight deck video released Friday
The tape that follows is flight deck video recorded by the crew of
Columbia during their preparations for a planned landing at the Kennedy
Space Center. Flight deck video and audio is routinely recorded during
shuttle reentry and is used for crew post flight presentations and also
as a debriefing and training aid.
This video begins at 7:35 am Central Time, 17 minutes after
the deorbit burn, with the shuttle over the South Pacific at an altitude
of over 500,000-ft. It continues for 13 minutes to 7:48 Central Time, as
the shuttle passed north east of Hawaii at approximately 250,000-ft.
The tape shows the crew going through nominal entry activities
- donning their gloves, checking suit integrity and fluid loading - as
well as documenting plasma effects observed out the windows. All of the
flashes and plasma events seen on the tape are typical of a normal
nighttime entry, with no unusual effects or failure signatures noted.
The tape ends approximately 5 minutes prior to the orbiter
crossing the coast of California, 4 minutes before the first failure
signature is picked up by ground controllers and 10 minutes before the
first failure is annunciated to the crew.
On a nominal mission, video and audio would have been recorded
through landing. However, the rest of this tape was apparently destroyed
in the accident with only the first part of the tape, wound on the take
up reel and without the tape case, being recovered. Of over 250 nearly
identical tapes carried on Columbia during this mission, this is the
only one discovered to date containing video recording.
So far, NASA has received 6,187 images and 34 videos from the
public related to the Columbia accident.
Click here to see the STS-107
launch and re-entry seating assignments.
No events are scheduled for the weekend. However, previous events have
been archived for your convenience and are available through the link
NASA TV Schedule
NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe
rejected the idea that nothing
been done if
the extent of damage was known during Columbia's flight. Meanwhile, the
CAIB is closing in on
a cause of the disaster.
27 February 2003 - Thursday - NASA has announced their
plans for the
ISS. While the Shuttle fleet is grounded, the
will return aboard the Soyuz TMA spacecraft currently docked to the Station,
two-man Expedition 7 crew will
launch aboard the new
Soyuz lifeboat in
early May (instead of the regularly scheduled taxi flight). A
reduced crew will use less water - the
for which the Shuttle is needed
most. Also, the Columbia
with controversy about the emails going
back and forth about
tile damage during Columbia's flight.
Who knew what, and
Weather Improves for Debris Search
Improving weather in the Lufkin, Texas, area enabled 155 20-person
crews to continue their search Thursday for shuttle debris from the Feb. 1
Columbia accident. The improved conditions also allowed eight dive teams
to resume their search of the Toledo Bend Reservoir, with three boats
continuing to scan the bottom for Columbia debris.
As of Thursday afternoon, the westernmost piece of debris found
so far, a piece of heat-resistant tile believed to be from the left wing,
was found about 64 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of Lubbock, Texas near
the town of Littlefield.
In Washington, D.C., NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe testified
before the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Science on
Thursday. He discussed the proposed budget, the Columbia accident and
various activities at NASA.
Wednesday, NASA released e-mails of conversations between
engineers, which took place in the days before Columbia's planned landing
on Feb. 1. Engineers were asked to give their worst case "What if?"
scenarios regarding problems that could occur should the wheel well be
damaged during re-entry.
None of the engineers believed there was a problem with the
underside of the orbiter that would cause an accident such as occurred on Feb. 1.
[E-mail links listed here].
briefing Tuesday at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, ... Board
Chairman retired Adm. Harold "Hal" Gehman displayed
photos of a piece of heat-resistant tile that was found southeast of
Dallas near Powell, Texas. He said that the board was investigating the
extreme-heat damage that the tile received, and said it was not damage due
to re-entry heating.
[ISS] Crew Performs Spacesuit Test; To Return Home in May
Early in the week
aboard the International Space Station, Expedition Six crewmembers
successfully conducted a spacewalk preparation test. Commander Ken
Bowersox and NASA ISS Science Officer Don Pettit demonstrated the ability
of two crewmembers to get into U.S. spacesuits without the assistance of a
Thursday, the International Space Station Program announced that
Expedition Six will return to Earth in May in the
Soyuz TMA-1 spacecraft following the arrival of its replacement on the
Soyuz TMA-2 ship. Until the space shuttle fleet returns to flight,
two-member crews, starting with Expedition Seven in May, will staff the
Progress cargo ships will be the source of fresh supplies for the
Though no crew has been formally named for the upcoming Soyuz crew
rotation flight, two U.S. astronauts and two Russian cosmonauts are in training
at the Yuri A. Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.
They are NASA Astronauts Ed Lu
Foale and Russian Cosmonauts
Malenchenko (Col., Russian Air Force) and
Kaleri. The Expedition Seven crewmembers will be announced in mid-March.
It's kind of a bummer that they have to
reduce the size of the
ISS crew -
they had a hard enough time getting any science done with three people,
never mind two - but at least they are not dimming the lights and evacuating
Station. Before the
Columbia accident, the ISS crew transfer was scheduled for
mission STS-114. Atlantis was to have launched this Saturday, March 1st -
but there's no telling when we'll see another Shuttle launch.
20 February 2003 - Thursday - Sean O'Keefe was at NASA's
center in Mississippi today to
discuss the Columbia
Sightings Team Looking to Pinpoint Debris
The Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) Advanced Sightings Team
is working to
pinpoint the location of hardware that may have separated from the
Space Shuttle Columbia early in its final path over the western United
The team is bringing together data from the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA), the public, Department of Defense (DOD), Department
of Energy (DOE), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),
the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) and all other sources of valuable
information that become available. The collaboration of all these
organizations has been outstanding. The team is piecing together the
information from these sources to learn as much as possible about
anomalous conditions during the re-entry of Columbia.
Meanwhile, NASA is consolidating
two of the primary search coordination field offices and establishing four
incident command posts and base camps. The search is intensifying based on
initial success with grid-search techniques, and because spring vegetation
growth is expected to make recovery efforts more difficult.
Immediately after the accident, NASA established several different
local command and coordination field offices at Barksdale Air Force Base
in Shreveport, La., the Lufkin Emergency Operations Center in Lufkin, Texas,
and Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base (Carswell Field), Fort Worth, Texas.
The Lufkin, Barksdale and Carswell operations will be consolidated at Lufkin
Four interagency command posts and base camps are being established
in Corsicana, Hemphill, Nacogdoches and Palestine, Texas, to direct
intensified ground searches. Interagency management teams are being
deployed to the camps to conduct searches.
Wednesday, NASA asked citizens and officials in
New Mexico and Utah for help in finding material from Columbia. The
material would have fallen from the shuttle as it was re-entering Earth's
atmosphere along a line stretching generally from San Francisco, Calif.,
to Lafayette, La. Everyone is asked to be on the lookout for possible
shuttle material 97 kilometers (60 miles) north or south of the reentry track.
Meanwhile, the ISS crew continues their mission, but doubts remain over
future of the station. No one wants to
abandon it, so the question is, how to do the crew transfer? Russia
needs funds to build more Soyuz and Progress ships. Expedition Six has
enough supplies to last until July or August.
19 February 2003 - Wednesday - Columbia's
nose gear has been
Texas. Also: Is the
foam insulation theory
Hal Gehman stated
at yesterday's news conference that they impounded the
External Tank which
came off the production
after the one that
went up with
Impounds External Tank
of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board announced during a briefing
Tuesday that an External Tank has been impounded. It is identical to the
one that launched with Space Shuttle Columbia in January. The tank will be
examined as part of the investigation into the loss of Space Shuttle
Columbia and the STS-107 crew.
The board members also said that it appears that debris began to
fall off of the orbiter as it passed over California during its re-entry
Board chairman, retired Adm. Harold W. Gehman, announced that
the panel is opening an office in Washington, D.C., which can be reached
at 703 416-3461 (voice) and 703 416-3282 (fax) effective Wednesday, and
that Thomas L. Carter has been appointed the board’s assistant for
government relations. Carter will be the board's independent
representation in Washington and will maintain contact with both Congress
and Executive Branch organizations.
Sean O'Keefe will be at Stennis Space
Center in Mississippi for a
media briefing at 2PM EST Thursday.
Also: What happened to all the science data from
18 February 2003 - Tuesday - At today's
CAIB briefing, we saw
some of the
board members and heard more information about the accident. It turns
four yaw jets (not
two) fired in the last minutes of
Columbia's descent, meaning that the
computer-controlled system was trying to save the ship till the
of Columbia over
Investigation Board Opens D.C. Office, Names Government Relations Officer
In a briefing Tuesday, the chairman of the Columbia Accident Investigation
Board, retired Adm. Harold W. Gehman, and three board members gave an
update on the inquiry on the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia and the
STS-107 crew. Gehman announced that the panel is opening an office in
Washington, DC, which can be reached at 703 416-3461 (voice) and 703
416-3282 (fax) effective Wednesday.
Gehman also announced the appointment of Thomas L. Carter as
board assistant for government relations. Carter will be the board's
independent representation in Washington and will maintain contact with
both Congress and Executive Branch organizations.
Meanwhile, the search for debris continues. Monday, NASA asked
for help from the public in the investigation.
Farmers and ranchers in the western United States were asked to keep
an eye out for shuttle debris, in particular in an area that stretches 97
kilometers (60 miles) north and south of a line that extends from San
Francisco, Calif., to Lafayette, La.
Also on Monday, the agency renewed its call to the public for
video and photos of Columbia during its re-entry on Feb. 1. Imagery
and video might help in determining the cause of the mishap. As of
Tuesday, 5,025 photos and videos had been submitted to investigators.
02.18.03 Columbia Accident Investigation Board
The changes allow additional flexibility with support staff and
expertise outside of NASA.
+ Board documents
For more information see the
Mishap Status Reports and
NASA TV Schedule
The Board is seeking new members, based on their expertise. Admiral
Gehman also expressed gratitude to the many volunteers, law enforcement, and
others who have worked on the search for Columbia's wreckage. He estimated
that of the 4000 pieces at KSC, 2600 have been identified and cataloged, and
that 10000 more are in the pipeline from collection points.
17 February 2003 - Monday - Here's more about the
wing breach theory.
Also, NASA is asking western landowners for help in the search for debris.
Less wreckage is being located now.
NASA Asks Farmers for Help Finding Columbia Material
is asking farmers and ranchers in the western United States to stay alert
for material from the Space Shuttle Columbia on their property. With
spring plowing already under way or beginning, it is possible for some of
these items – which may still be hazardous – to be covered up or damaged
through normal agricultural activities.
CAIB Briefing tomorrow at 3PM EST -
Watch live on NASA TV.
16 February 2003 - Sunday - Not much new today. This week, we heard from the
ISS crew for the first time since the accident.
Will the next ISS astronauts be a two-person "caretaker
Columbia Accident Investigation Board Press Conference
The Columbia Accident Investigation Board, or CAIB, will conduct a
press conference on Tuesday, Feb. 18, at [3PM EST/2000 GMT]. The press
briefing will be conducted at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.
Watch it live on
NASA TV Schedule
Another Productive Week Aboard the Station
the three-month mark aboard the International Space Station, the
Expedition Six crew stayed busy maintaining the outpost, conducting
science experiments, stowing gear and talking with the media. For the
first time since the Columbia accident, Bowersox, Pettit and Flight
Engineer Nikolai Budarin talked with reporters. Most questions focused on
the crew’s reaction and thoughts on Columbia’s astronauts and how the
accident might affect their mission.
Six was originally scheduled to return to Earth in March aboard STS-114.
However, the schedule for all future space shuttle missions is now under
review, pending the results of an investigation into the Columbia
accident. Bowersox and Pettit have told Mission Control they are willing
to stay in orbit for a year or more if necessary, and they would consider
the extra time a bonus, not a hardship.
You can see replays of press events like Flight Director
Leroy Cain's, and
Admiral Gehman's, at the
KSC Columbia site.
Here are the reports from