Status Report

Opening Statement by Robert Daugherty, Senior Research Engineer, NASA LaRC

By SpaceRef Editor
March 11, 2003
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[Transcribed from an audio recording] “My name is Bob Daugherty and I am a Senior Research Engineer here at Langley Research Center where I have worked for almost 23 years. At the Aircraft Landing Dyanmics Facility we do research on advanced landing gear systems. We characterize aircraft and spacecraft take off and landing performance with mathematical models to describe things like steering and breaking friction. And we work from time to time on solving operational problems for a number of commercial and other governmental agencies. And in one form or another, I have worked on shuttle tire and landing issues for about 18 years.

First, let me say that I don’t know what caused the Columbia tragedy but I do firmly believe the Columbia Accident Investigation Board will figure out the cause and offer solutions to prevent it from happening again. And I feel, like everyone at NASA that we have a specific [responsibility] to the public. That is why I am speaking with you today. Honestly, I was very surprised about the attention my writing recieved. I view my involvement as a small sideline focused on landing issues – and I have been in somewhat of a quandry. I really do believe that the best thing I can do for the investigation is to talk to the investigation board first. On the other hand it is frustrating that my words are being misinterpeted. My quandry has now been relieved since the board has said they don’t mind if I speak up. So I want to clear the air as much as possible and will hope you’ll excuse me in advance if we get into any technical areas where I may still feel it is best to talk with the board first.

And finally, before taking questions, I’d just like to mention what I consider my most important point – and that’s my intention with my emails. I was asked a question from a long time friend and colleague about whether we had ever simulated a landing with two flat tires. After some thnking I believe that that was the wrong question. The thing that might get you into that predicament would manifest itself long before you got to the runway. I simply wanted to present the whole range of ssues between catastrophe and perfect landing. I wanted to make sure that every body could be as ready as possible for any eventuality. The email was intened to spark discussion to ensure there were such plans and I believe that it did just that.”

SpaceRef staff editor.