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Space Shuttle Accident Investigation Board Chair Tours Recovery Area

The following is a statement from retired Admiral Harold W. Gehman, Jr., who chairs the independent Space Shuttle Accident Investigation Board. Admiral Gehman toured the recovery area today with other members of the investigative panel.

"The purpose of our visit here today is to get out and look at some of the debris recovery area. This makes the accident more personal to us and prevents it from becoming an abstract

"We're not going to solve this today. We're here to see what the debris looks like and to get a sense of it personally.

"There are over 20 investigatory teams working on the various aspects of the Columbia accident. The board will take supervisory authority over all these activities.

"I'd like to compliment the many agencies involved in this effort. As you know, FEMA is in charge of the recovery effort, and our hats are off to the wonderful work they are doing.

"We have no timetable, but we have two main responsibilities here. One is to future astronauts, who need to know we've done everything possible to make it safe for them to fly. The other is to the three people currently in orbit on the International Space Station, who need to have the Shuttle program fly as soon as possible."