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STS-107 MCC Status Report #23

Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

STS-107 MCC Status Report #23 
Wednesday, February 5, 2003 - 7:00 p.m. CST 
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas 

The search for clues about what caused Columbia's breakup during reentry
Saturday, and the hunt for key debris from the orbiter, expanded today
with recovery teams deployed in California and Arizona. 

Four days after Columbia broke apart 16 minutes prior to landing, Space
Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore said the inquiry into the cause for
Columbia's demise is "picking up speed". But Dittemore said efforts to
draw any new information from an additional 32 seconds of data acquired
by ground computers following the loss of voice communications with
Columbia have so far been unsuccessful. 

In a briefing, Dittemore said the engineering evaluation teams are
focusing their attention on "something other" than insulating foam on
Columbia's external tank that fell off 80 seconds after launch striking
the left wing, as the reason for the accident. 

"It does not make sense that a piece of (foam) debris caused the loss of
Columbia and its crew," Dittemore added. He reiterated Columbia tried to
compensate for increased drag on its left wing in the seconds prior to
its breakup, firing steering jets to right itself. But Dittemore said of
Columbia, "It was doing well, but it was losing the battle." 

As the engineering analysis continued, the remains of Columbia's
astronauts were flown to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, where
identification of the astronauts will be completed. At the conclusion of
the forensic analysis, the remains will be released to the families for

In an earlier briefing, Michael Kostelnik, NASA's Associate Administrator
for International Space Station and Space Shuttle, said the recovery
operations are moving ahead "full steam", involving 2500 people
nationwide from federal and local agencies. Kostelnik said NASA has added
a task force to integrate the work between numerous engineering teams
that are reviewing over Columbia's data and the Columbia Accident Review
board, chaired by retired Navy Admiral Harold Gehman, Jr. 

Kostelnik said that although a relatively small percentage of Shuttle
debris has been recovered so far, segments of large components such as
Columbia's nose cone and main engines have been found. The focus of the
recovery effort and the data analysis, according to Kostelnik, continues
to be Columbia's left wing area, although no element of the orbiter has
been exonerated in the ongoing inquiry. 

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 6 Commander Ken
Bowersox, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and NASA ISS Science Officer
Don Pettit spent the day unloading the Russian Progress resupply ship
that docked to the ISS Tuesday, carrying one ton of food, fuel and

Pettit unstowed replacement parts for the Microgravity Science Glovebox
from the Progress and installed them in the facility in the Destiny
laboratory in an effort to revive the Glovebox that has been dormant
since November following a power failure. 

Pettit powered up the Glovebox, but a circuit breaker in the system
popped and payload controllers told Pettit to shut it down so they can
evaluate its current status. 

On Thursday, NASA Television will broadcast a memorial ceremony for
Columbia's astronauts from National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. at
10:00 a.m. EST. 

The next STS-107 Accident Response briefing will be held on Thursday at
4:30 p.m. EST from the Johnson Space Center, Houston, also on NASA TV,
with multi-center question and answer capability for reporters at NASA

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

Status reports will be issued as developments warrant. 

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