NASA Mishap Response Status Report #02 Feb. 12, 2003 - 7 p.m. CDT

Status Report From: Johnson Space Center
Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Two trucks containing debris from the space shuttle Columbia arrived at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) this morning. They were the first bringing debris from Barksdale AFB near Shreveport, La., to KSC where investigators will lay them out, about as they were positioned on Columbia.

Members of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) arrived at KSC about 11 a.m. EST today. The group toured facilities, including the Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 2, housing the Shuttle Endeavour, and Bay 3, where Discovery is undergoing maintenance. The CAIB also visited the Vehicle Assembly Building where Shuttle Atlantis, with its external tank and solid rocket boosters, is atop its mobile launch platform. The CAIB met at intervals throughout the day with KSC officials to get an overview of ground processing activities.

On Thursday the board is scheduled to visit the Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) Disassembly Facility and tour the SRB assembly and refurbishment facilities. Members also will visit the Launch Control Center and Launch Pad 39A, where Columbia was launched.

Retired Navy Admiral Harold Gehman, CAIB chairman, spoke briefly with news media representatives. He said the CAIB wants to look at four things at KSC: launch procedures; Shuttle refurbishment between flights; the Columbia mishap reconstruction site; "and be sure in our own minds the process here for Columbia reconstruction meets our investigatory needs." The efforts will take place in the Reusable Launch Vehicle Hangar located adjacent to the Space Shuttle runway at KSC.

Gehman described the trip to KSC as an orientation visit. He said the CAIB would return to KSC a number of times during the investigation. The CAIB is scheduled to travel to Huntsville, Ala., and then New Orleans before returning to Houston Saturday night.. Gehman said Sunday would be a workday, and that the board would be working seven- or six-day weeks "from now on."

More than 2,500 federal, state and local employees continued to search for Columbia debris in Texas and Louisiana today. Officials say they have the resources to cover every body of water in the debris trail within 5 weeks. While teams continue to investigate reports of debris as far west as California, no confirmed pieces of debris from Columbia have been found west of the Fort Worth, Texas area.

Hundreds of items continue to be collected from areas in eastern Texas and western Louisiana. Several hundred items were shipped in the past 24 hours to Barksdale from locations in Lufkin, Nacogdoches and Hemphill, Texas.

The International Space Station's Expedition 6 crew, Commander Ken Bowersox, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and NASA Station Science Officer Don Pettit, took time Wednesday for interviews with CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC representatives. They talked about their shock and grief after being told the morning of Feb. 1 by Johnson Space Center Director Jefferson D. Howell Jr. of the loss of Columbia, and their willingness to remain aboard the ISS as long as necessary.

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