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NASA Mishap Response Status #10
02.28.03
 
Friday, Feb. 28, 2003 - 6 p.m. CST
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

About 13 minutes of video recorded by Columbia's crew Feb. 1 as they prepared for landing was released today on NASA television. The video recorded on the flight deck was taken with a small camera mounted first to the right of Pilot Willie McCool and later held by Mission Specialist Laurel Clark.

Commander Rick Husband and Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla, the other two crewmembers seated on the flight deck, also are visible in the video. The video begins about 7:35 a.m. CST when Columbia was about 500,000 feet above the South Pacific and ends when the orbiter was approaching the San Francisco Bay area, about 11 minutes before contact between Columbia and the Mission Control Center in Houston was lost. Apparently the rest of the tape had been destroyed.

Astronaut Scott Altman described the tape as showing the crew going through normal landing preparations. It is like tapes routinely shot during Shuttle re-entries, he said. It shows flashes and plasma events out the window typical of night entries, with nothing unusual noted.

The tape was found Feb. 6 near Palestine, Texas, on its take-up reel but without the tape case. On normal Shuttle missions, audio and video are normally recorded through to landing.

Lufkin, Texas, Mayor Louis Bronaugh visited the operations center at Lufkin today and accepted on behalf of his city a certificate of appreciation from FEMA's Scott Wells, the Federal Coordinating Officer for the Columbia recovery effort, and NASA's Allen Flynt and David Whittle, who are leading NASA's search efforts. The certificate thanked the City of Lufkin for its support of the search effort. Debris recovery coordination efforts were consolidated this week from several field centers into the single Lufkin site.

During the past two days, searchers continued to recover a variety of materials from the Space Shuttle Columbia, including a large section of the outboard corner of the left wing's inboard elevon, and the 17-inch disconnect assembly from the Shuttle's belly. The 17-inch disconnect is significant in that it may lead searchers to cameras that were mounted nearby for the purpose of documenting the condition of the external tank as it is jettisoned.

Weather cleared for some search efforts today, but continued to hamper others:

The 48 Corsicana ground teams resumed searches as ice thawed. Total searchers in the field today included 940 from the Corsicana base camp, 600 in Nacogdoches, 700 in Palestine and 740 in Hemphill. A total of 150 crews with 3,000 searchers combed the area.

Dive teams led by the Navy continued their search efforts in Toledo Bend reservoir and Lake Nacogdoches. Twelve helicopters resumed searches Wednesday from Palestine, but low ceilings subsequently kept search aircraft on the ground.

Earlier searchers recovered what is believed to be the Combustion Module-2 experiment facility that had been aboard the Spacehab Research Double Module in Columbia's cargo bay. Three flame-related experiments were conducted in the module during the STS-107 mission. Scientists estimate that more than 50 percent of data from those experiments was received by downlink during the mission.

The western-most find of confirmed Shuttle debris to date is a piece of tile found about 40 miles northwest of Lubbock, Texas. A low-intensity search effort is being organized along the California coast, looking for any evidence of material that might have fallen in the ocean and drifted to shore. Volunteer sheriffs posies are expected to search the shoreline in Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties, 30 miles north and south of Columbia's re-entry track.

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board will hold its first public hearing Thursday at the University of Houston. For more information about board activities on the Internet visit the CAIB's new website:

www.caib.us

For more information on NASA on the Internet, see:

www.nasa.gov