Press Release

NASA Columbia Accident Suport Activities Reorganized

By SpaceRef Editor
March 21, 2003
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NASA has reorganized its support of Shuttle accident related activities to better
accommodate the investigation and align more closely with the structure adopted
by the independent Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB).

NASA’s Mishap Response Team, formed immediately after the Columbia accident
as stipulated in contingency plans, completed its short-term response function.
NASA accident-related activities supporting the CAIB will transition to a newly
formed NASA Accident Investigation Team (NAIT). The NAIT has three
subdivisions, which match the major elements of the CAIB.

Randy Stone, deputy director of the Johnson Space Center (JSC), will chair the
NAIT. Stone will also manage the subdivision related to flight operations, such as
Mission Control, flight planning and crew training functions. Frank Benz, director of
engineering at JSC, will manage activities related to engineering and technology,
such as debris, imagery and fault tree analyses. Jim Kennedy, deputy director of
the Kennedy Space Center, will manage activities related to materials, such as
vendors, maintenance, internal processes and program management.

“The Mishap Response Team met for the first time within two hours of the
Columbia accident, and its demanding work has been highly efficient, methodical
and productive,” Stone said. “They have done a tremendous job under extremely
difficult circumstances. Now, many of the initial mishap response activities are
nearing their close, and it is time for NASA’s accident support structure to
transition to an organization designed to provide long term investigation support,”
he said.

Among mishap response activities nearing completion over the next four to six
weeks is the organized debris search and recovery effort that has been under way
in east Texas. Most of the organized search effort should be completed around
May 1, 2003, weather permitting. Other activities coming to a close include
NASA’s Emergency Operations Center, which assisted in fielding thousands of
calls about the accident and received almost 7,000 images from sources external
to NASA.

The final Mishap Response Team meeting was held today. The NAIT will convene
for the first time Monday, March 24. NASA’s Columbia Task Force, directed by
Frank Buzzard, will continue to facilitate the interface between the CAIB and
NASA support activities.

SpaceRef staff editor.