Category Archives: After Ten Years

After Ten Years is a series about the events surrounding the Columbia accident.

After Ten Years: The Moment of Truth

Prior to the Challenger accident, the theory was that riding on the space shuttle was like riding on a modern jet airliner; passengers are not provided with parachutes and pressure suits. Challenger changed all that. With pressure suits, parachutes, and … Continue reading

Posted in After Ten Years | Tagged , , | 35 Comments

After Ten Years: Working on the Wrong Problem

One of the toughest problems the Ascent Flight Director faced was how to get the crew back home safely if the shuttle engines quit during the launch phase. We studied and worked out procedures and techniques for over thirty years. … Continue reading

Posted in After Ten Years | Tagged , , | 39 Comments

After Ten Years: Too Little, Too Late

First the official disclaimer: I can neither confirm nor deny that other national agencies might or might not have had capabilities that could have helped NASA during the last flight of Columbia. The fact of the matter is that in … Continue reading

Posted in After Ten Years | Tagged , | 16 Comments

After Ten Years: Death Never Takes a Holiday

During the accident investigation there were several efforts to determine what might have been done to save Columbia and her crew. None of the concepts to plug the hole in the wing would have worked; most would have caused even … Continue reading

Posted in After Ten Years | Tagged , , , | 28 Comments

After Ten Years: Counting Down to Disaster

Early on I decided that riding the NASA ‘corporate’ jet was not a real advantage.  NASA had acquired a number of used Gulfstream II corporate jets to be converted to Shuttle Training Aircraft.  Supposedly the Gulfstream people had upgraded to … Continue reading

Posted in After Ten Years | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

After Ten Years: the Fateful FRR

George Abbey never allowed a shuttle flight to be scheduled over the last days of January.  He was too steeped in the events of the Apollo 1 fire and the STS-51-L loss of Challenger and her crew to put another … Continue reading

Posted in After Ten Years | Tagged , , | 21 Comments

After Ten Years: STS-113, the Calm before the Storm

Of course the title is wrong; there was nothing calm about STS-113. I was the Ascent/Entry Flight Director as you can see in the picture of the mission control team. This ISS assembly and crew rotation flight was jam packed … Continue reading

Posted in After Ten Years | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Ten Years After Columbia: STS-112, the Harbinger

“You will never remember the many times the launch slipped, but the on-time failures are with you always” – Walt W. Williams, NASA Program Manager for X-15 and Mercury In the summer of 2002, the word got out about the … Continue reading

Posted in After Ten Years | Tagged , | 24 Comments

After Ten Years: A Few Words from Admiral Gehman

I’d like to interrupt my personal recollections of the Columbia accident and its aftermath to give a few words from Admiral Gehman.  You might as well know that there are still people out there who will tell you the CAIB … Continue reading

Posted in After Ten Years | Tagged , , , | 51 Comments

After Ten Years: Flying A Mature Vehicle – Or Not

  “The Space Shuttle is an experimental vehicle with an operational mission” – NASA Deputy Associate Administrator Michael Kostelnik, 2004 The Space Shuttle system was under development for 13 years and then actually flew in space for over 30 years.  … Continue reading

Posted in After Ten Years | Tagged , , | 16 Comments