Tag Archives: Columbia Accident

After Ten Years: Enduring Lessons

From the Rogers Commission to reading Dr. Diane Vaughn’s book The Challenger Launch Decision took me 17 years.  For all those years I had learned the wrong lesson about the loss of Challenger.  The sound-bite explanation kept me in ignorance.  … Continue reading

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After Ten Years: Picking Up the Pieces

Starting the new job at KSC, I had set out from my home in Houston on January 30th, with the expectation of spending about three weeks on the job before getting a weekend back in Houston.  Among the most surreal … Continue reading

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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