Press Release

NASA Provides Update About Columbia Investigation

By SpaceRef Editor
February 4, 2003
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NASA Provides Update About Columbia Investigation

As NASA paused to pay tribute to Columbia’s astronauts, the
agency reported making “considerable progress” in recovering debris
from the Space Shuttle and analyzing data in the search for clues to
what caused the orbiter to breakup 16 minutes before its landing last

President and Mrs. Bush joined NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe in
honoring astronauts Rick Husband, William McCool, Dave Brown,
Kalpana Chawla, Mike Anderson, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon in a
ceremony at the Johnson Space Center, Houston. President Bush said
the nation was “blessed” to have such men and women serving the
space program, and although NASA is being tested at this time,
“America’s space program will go on.”

In an afternoon briefing, Michael Kostelnik, NASA’s Associate
Administrator for International Space Station and Space Shuttle said
several engineering teams continue to work round-the-clock to
reconstruct the timeline of the final minutes of Columbia’s flight from
extensive data that is being analyzed.

Kostelnik said the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, chaired by
retired U.S. Navy Admiral Harold W. Gehman, Jr., is on scene at
Barksdale Air Force Base, La. where the recovery of debris and human
remains is being coordinated.

Kostelnik reported that larger and denser pieces of debris have been
found in Louisiana, possibly including parts of Columbia’s main
engines. He said recovery teams have been dispatched to California
and Arizona, where debris has been reported. Kostelnik indicated
debris recovered from areas farthest to the west would be critical,
possibly providing information about the early stages of Columbia’s

Earlier today, a Russian Progress resupply ship successfully docked to
the International Space Station at 9:49 a.m. EST, delivering a ton of
food, fuel and supplies to Expedition 6 Commander Ken Bowersox,
Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and NASA ISS Science Officer Don
Pettit. Progress has given the Station resident crew a “solid” supply of
consumables, enough to sustain operations through at least late June,
according to Kostelnik.

Bowersox, Budarin and Pettit opened the hatches between the ISS
and the Progress today, and they will begin unloading its supplies on

Asked about contingency planning for the Station for the rest of the
year, Kostelnik said all options to sustain a human presence on board
in the temporary absence of Shuttle flights are being explored. The
next Shuttle flight aboard Atlantis in March was to have brought the
Expedition 7 crew to the ISS and returned to Earth the current resident

Two STS-107 update briefings will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 5.
They will be broadcast on NASA Television with multi-center question
and answer capability for reporters at NASA centers. The first briefing,
with NASA Associate Administrator for Space Flight Bill Readdy, is
from NASA Headquarters in Washington at 11:30 a.m. EST. The
second, with Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore, from the
Johnson Space Center, is at 4:30 p.m. EST.

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

SpaceRef staff editor.