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STS-107 MCC Status Report #21

Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

STS-107 MCC Status Report #21 
Monday, Feb. 3, 2003  7:00 p.m. CST 
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas 

NASA engineers continued to review data and recover debris from the Space
Shuttle Columbia today as the analysis of what caused the orbiter to
break up Saturday en route to landing continued. 

Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore told an afternoon briefing
that several teams of engineers are making progress in their study of
data and video from Columbia's launch and entry, but cautioned that it is
a "massive job" requiring round-the-clock efforts to piece together the
events that led to a loss of communications with the Shuttle over north
central Texas 16 minutes prior to touchdown. 

Still, Dittemore said NASA would pause Tuesday for a memorial ceremony at
the Johnson Space Center at 1:00 p.m. EST to honor the lives and the
memory of Columbia's astronauts, Rick Husband, William McCool, Dave
Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Mike Anderson, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon.
President and Mrs. Bush will join NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe at JSC
for the memorial which is closed to the public, but which will be
broadcast on NASA Television. 

Dittemore said the memorial represents an opportunity to take time to
remember the sacrifice of the astronauts, to mourn them and to "remember
our friends." 

Dittemore offered additional and refined information regarding the
timeline of events that led to Columbia's breakup on Saturday (all times
CST): · At 7:52 a.m. CST, three-left main gear brake line temperature
sensors showed an unusual rise in the left wheel well area. · At 7:53
a.m., a fourth left brake line strut actuator temperature sensor showed a
30-40 degree rise in temperature over a five-minute period, slightly
higher than reported yesterday. · At 7:55 a.m., A fifth left brake line
main gear sensor showed a sharp rise in temperature. · At 7:57 a.m., left
wing temperature sensors failed "off-scale low", meaning no further data
was being received on the ground. · And at 7:59 a.m., just before
communications was lost with Columbia, there was evidence of drag on the
aerosurfaces of the left wing, causing two out of four yaw steering jets
in that area of the Shuttle to fire for 1.5 seconds to counteract the
increased drag. 

Dittemore said more time will be needed to retrieve an additional 32
seconds of data acquired by ground computers after communications was
lost with Columbia to see if it is useful to the inquiry. He said
engineers would go directly to the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite
System ground station hub in White Sands, New Mexico to collect and
analyze that data in its pristine form. 

Although the investigative teams have a "high interest" in the left hand
wheel well area of Columbia, Dittemore cautioned that a temperature
increase there does not indicate that a structural problem occurred as a
factor in the vehicle's breakup. In fact, Dittemore said the data
suggests that "something else" may have been happening at the time, not
indicative of a structural breach. 

Responding to inquiries regarding a piece of foam insulation which fell
off Columbia's external fuel tank about 80 seconds after launch that
struck the left wing of the Shuttle, Dittemore said imagery analysis
showed that the foam measured about 20 inches by 16 inches by 6 inches
and weighed about 2.67 pounds. He reiterated that engineering analysis
conducted during the flight concluded for NASA managers that although the
foam might have caused some structural damage to the wing area, it would
not have been sufficient to cause a catastrophic event. 

"There is some other missing link contributing to this event," Dittemore
said. We are extremely interested in seeing any debris that may have
fallen upstream of the main impact area," referring to any additional
debris which might be recovered in an area to the west of Texas. 

Earlier today, former President George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush
visited the International Space Station flight control room at the
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX to pay their respects to the flight
controllers and to the Expedition 6 crew aboard the orbital complex. 

The former president told Expedition 6 Commander Ken Bowersox, Flight
Engineer Nikolai Budarin and NASA ISS Science Officer Don Pettit that
President Bush relayed his "full confidence in the space program" in a
conversation with the elder Bush Sunday. The former president told the
crew the men and women of NASA were showing "great courage" in the wake
of the accident. 

Bowersox, Budarin and Pettit spent the day preparing for the docking of a
Russian Progress resupply vehicle to the ISS Tuesday at 9:50 a.m. EST.
The new cargo ship, which contains a ton of food, fuel and supplies for
the crew, was successfully launched Sunday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome
in Kazakhstan. NASA TV coverage of the Progress docking to the ISS begins
at 9 a.m. CST Tuesday. 

The next STS-107 Accident Response briefing will be held on Tuesday, Feb.
4 at NASA Headquarters in Washington at 4:30 p.m. EST. Status reports
will be issued as developments warrant. 

NASA TV is on AMC-2, Transponder 9C, vertical polarization at 85 degrees
west longitude, 3880 MHz, with audio at 6.8 MHz. 

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