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STS-107 MCC Status Report #25



Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

STS-107 MCC Status Report #25 
Friday, February 7, 2003 7 p.m. CST 
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas 

The independent board charged with determining what caused the
destruction of Columbia met with NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe at the
Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston. Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron
Dittemore flew to the External Tank manufacturer in Michoud, La. to
discuss processing of the tank with engineers. Recovery teams continued
to search for debris. 

Dittemore told an afternoon briefing that a small portion of the
reinforced carbon-carbon insulation of the leading edge of one of the
Shuttle's wings was found in the Fort Worth, Texas area. It measures
approximately 26-27 inches in length and 18 inches wide. It has not been
determined whether it is from the left or right wing. The magnitude of
the search for shuttle debris has expanded, with more than 1200 people
involved in the recovery effort, including 220 from NASA and 800 National
Guardsmen. 

The investigation is entering a new phase, now that the Columbia Accident
Investigation Board (CAIB), chaired by retired Navy Admiral Harold
Gehman, Jr., has taken over the inquiry. 

"This will be a long, painstaking process," Dittemore said of the
investigation. "But I am proud of this (Shuttle Program) team. They have
risen to the occasion." 

Administrator O'Keefe echoed those statements when he met with employees
at the JSC, praising them for their dedication during a time of grief,
while vowing that the space program would emerge from the accident
stronger than ever. 

The CAIB will be based near JSC. The CAIB Charter is available on the
Internet at: http://www.nasa.gov/columbia/board_documents.pdf 

In his afternoon briefing, Dittemore presented charts showing the
sequential shutdown of sensors during the final minutes of Columbia's
flight as the orbiter encountered a problem as yet undefined. He also
revealed a fuzzy photo taken by Air Force cameras as Columbia flew
overhead. Dittemore discounted earlier press reports, which interpreted
the damage, as premature. He said, " It is not clear to me that this
photo reveals anything significant at this point." -more- -2- 

While data analysis continued, the residents of the International Space
Station completed their unloading of a Russian Progress resupply ship
today and conducted a variety of biomedical experiments. Expedition 6
Commander Ken Bowersox, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and NASA ISS
Science Officer Don Pettit are in their 76th day in space, their 74th day
on board the complex. 

With shuttle missions on indefinite hold, NASA managers are discussing
whether adjustments are needed to the late April launch of a new Russian
Soyuz TMA spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It would
be manned by a "taxi" crew that delivers the craft used for assured crew
return to the Station and returns to Earth in the Soyuz currently at the
station. Potential options are being looked at in concert with the
International Partners to keep the Station manned, safe, and productive. 

While there are no plans to remove the Station crew during the Shuttle
recovery period, discussions are ongoing to ensure proper manning and
supplies until Shuttles fly again. Another Progress cargo vehicle is
scheduled for launch the Station in June to maintain a robust supply of
food, fuel, and maintenance components. 

The Progress at the Station may use its engines early next week to boost
the Station, two nautical miles at its apogee and 10 nautical miles at
its perigee, to place the station at the correct altitude for the late
April Soyuz launch. A decision will be made Monday when the boost will
occur. 

On Tuesday, the Expedition 6 crew will field questions from reporters
during a news conference from the Station beginning at 9:34 a.m. EST. The
news conference will be broadcast on NASA Television with two-way
question and answer capability from reporters at NASA centers. 

The next STS-107 Accident Response briefings will be on Monday from NASA
Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The time has not yet been determined. It
will also be on NASA TV, with multi-center question and answer
capability. 

The Johnson Space Center will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST on
Saturday and Sunday but there will no briefings. 

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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