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MTK 07-05-2005 10:02 AM

After 2 years of work, dangers remain as Discovery's liftoff nears

NASA still hasn't met all the conditions set forth by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board after the 2003 Columbia disaster... are they just asking for another disaster??


The Columbia Accident Investigation Board made 15 recommendations that NASA was to implement before the space shuttle returned to flight. NASA fully met 12 of the 15 recommendations.


_Eliminate all debris from the external fuel tank.

_Harden the orbiter's heat shielding against debris strikes.


_Develop ways to inspect and repair the shuttle's heat shielding in space.


_Improve camera systems to capture at least three useful views of the shuttle from liftoff to booster separation.

_Provide a way to take high-resolution photos of the external tank after it separates from the shuttle and send them to ground controllers for analysis.

_Provide a way to take and send to ground controllers high-resolution images of the underside of the wings' leading edges and the forward section of the wings' thermal-protection system.

_Test and qualify new devices that catch explosive bolts used to attach the shuttle's fuel tank to its solid rocket boosters.

_Require at least two employees to attend all final closeouts for the external fuel tank and work on the tank's intertank area where foam insulation is sprayed on by hand.

_Implement and expand training for the Mission Management Team to deal with potential emergencies.

_Change an agreement between NASA and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency to make photos of the shuttle in orbit a standard requirement for every mission.

_Create an independent Technical Engineering Authority and reorganize the Space Shuttle Integration Office.

_Develop a plan for improved inspections of the shuttle's reinforced carbon-carbon panels and components.

_Digitize the photo system used to document completed preflight work on the shuttle so the images are available immediately if needed during a mission.

_Adopt and maintain a shuttle flight schedule that is consistent with available resources.

_Return to a definition of "foreign object debris" that is consistent with the accepted industry standard.


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