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NASA Mishap Response Status #05
02.15.03
 
Saturday, Feb. 15, 2003 - 2 p.m. CST
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

Two additional attitude control jets aboard Columbia fired after voice communication was lost with the shuttle, an analysis of data from the subsequent seconds indicates. Two other yaw control jets were known to have fired earlier, but the analysis indicates that a third and fourth yaw jet also activated in an attempt to maintain control of the vehicle.

One of five General Purpose Computers aboard Columbia also has been found among debris shipped to the Kennedy Space Center. The computer was badly damaged and its battery was missing. General Purpose Computers have no hard drives, so investigators held out little hope of extracting additional information.

A shuttle main engine turbopump has been recovered not far from Ft. Polk in Louisiana. The pump was buried about 14 feet below the ground's surface.

As of early Saturday, the western boundary of the debris field remained just west of the Fort Worth, Texas, area. Still, teams continued to investigate reports of debris as far west as California. A search for debris is under way in the Sandia Mountains just east of Albuquerque, based on witness reports of sonic booms and impact noise in that area.

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board Chairman Adm. Hal Gehman today announced the appointment of Sheila Widnall, former Secretary of the Air Force, to the board. Dr. Widnall is a member of the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Gehman and some of the board members are scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday at 2 p.m. CST at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Board members spent today at the Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans, where shuttle external tanks are fabricated. The board planned to return to Houston Saturday night.

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