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  • STS-107 MCC Status Report #20 
    Sunday, February 2, 2003 - 8:30 p.m. CST 
    Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas 
    
    Aided by federal and local agencies, NASA stepped up its inquiry into the loss 
    of the Space Shuttle Columbia and its seven astronauts. Multiple investigative 
    teams continue to pore over engineering data in an effort to uncover the cause 
    of the breakup of the orbiter over Texas on Saturday 16 minutes from landing. 
    
    Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore told an afternoon briefing that a 
    Mishap Response Team is gathering data from numerous engineering teams in the 
    early stages of the investigation and is receiving assistance from the Federal 
    Emergency Management Agency, the National Transportation Safety Board, the 
    Federal Bureau of Investigation and local law enforcement agencies, among others. 
    
    Dittemore said that as Commander Rick Husband, Pilot William McCool, Mission 
    Specialists Dave Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Mike Anderson, Laurel Clark and Israeli 
    Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon are mourned, the recovery of debris from Columbia 
    and human remains is being coordinated at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. 
    
    Dittemore thanked residents in the areas where debris fell after Columbia’s 
    breakup for cooperating in the recovery effort but cautioned them not to handle 
    debris that could contain toxic substances. 
    
    Dittemore reconstructed the final minutes of Columbia’s flight before 
    communications was lost. He reiterated the failure of four temperature sensors 
    associated with the shuttle’s left hand elevons at 7:53 a.m. CST Saturday amidst 
    a 20-30 degree rise in left hand bondline and strut temperatures over a five-
    minute period near the left wheel well of the orbiter. Columbia was flying over 
    California at the time at an altitude of about 220,000 feet traveling 21 times 
    the speed of sound. 
    
    One minute later, over the region of eastern California and western Nevada, 
    Columbia’s mid-fuselage bondline temperatures above the left wing experienced an 
    unusual temperature increase. It rose 60 degrees over a five-minute period. No 
    such temperature increase was noted on the right side of Columbia or in the 
    Shuttle’s cargo bay. Columbia was about 212,000 feet above the Earth, flying at 
    Mach 20. 
    
    At 7:58 a.m. over New Mexico, telemetry showed a larger than normal drag on the 
    left side of the shuttle, and an indication of an increase in pressure in the 
    left main landing gear tires. Dittemore said the data suggests the tires 
    remained intact. Columbia’s altitude was 209,000 feet. 
    
    At 7:59 a.m. over west Texas, the data showed Columbia continuing to react to an 
    increased drag on its left side, trying to correct the movement by rolling back 
    to the right. Dittemore said the response of the orbiter was well within its 
    capability to handle such maneuvers. 
    
    At that time, seconds before 8 a.m. CST, all communications was lost with 
    Columbia as it flew at an altitude of 207,000 feet, 18 times the speed of sound. 
    
    Dittemore indicated that ground computers may contain an additional 32 seconds 
    of data which could provide additional information in the analysis of Columbia’s 
    breakup. 
    
    He added that the loss of some foam insulation from Columbia’s external fuel 
    tank, which struck the shuttle’s left wing about 80 seconds after launch was 
    “inconsequential” based on video imagery review conducted by engineering 
    specialists. However, he said nothing has been ruled out as a possible cause for 
    the accident. 
    
    Robert Cabana, the Director of Flight Crew Operations at the Johnson Space 
    Center, relayed thanks from the families of the astronauts for the outpouring of 
    support received from around the nation and the world. 
    
    Cabana said that the Expedition 6 crewmembers aboard the International Space 
    Station are “grieving” for the loss of Columbia’s crew, but are in good spirits 
    as they continue human spaceflight and scientific research aboard the orbital 
    outpost. Cabana said Commander Ken Bowersox, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and 
    NASA ISS Science Officer Don Pettit are preparing for Tuesday’s arrival of a 
    Russian Progress cargo ship. Progress 10 was launched this morning from the 
    Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. 
    
    On Tuesday, Feb. 4, President and Mrs. Bush will join NASA Administrator Sean 
    O’Keefe at the Johnson Space Center to pay tribute to Columbia’s astronauts 
    during a special memorial service. The ceremony to honor Columbia’s seven 
    crewmembers is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on NASA 
    Television. The service is not open to the public. 
    
    The next STS-107 Accident Response briefings are on Monday, Feb. 3 at NASA 
    Headquarters in Washington at 11:30 a.m. EST and at the Johnson Space Center at 
    4:30 p.m. EST. Status reports will be issued as developments warrant. 
    
    NASA TV can be found on AMC-2, Transponder 9C, vertical polarization at 85 
    degrees West longitude, 3880 MHz, with audio at 6.8 MHz. 
    
    

     » All reports and archives can be found at: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/


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