Statement by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board
(Feb. 13, 2003)
Thermal Analysis Shows Hot Plasma Possible in Columbia
Left Wheel Well Area
Preliminary analysis by a NASA working group this week indicates that
the temperature indications seen in Columbia's left wheel well during
entry would require the presence of plasma (super heated gas surrounding
the orbiter during re-entry).
Heat transfer through the structure as from a missing tile would not
be sufficient to cause the temperature indications seen in the last
minutes of flight.
Additional analysis is underway, looking at various scenarios in
which a breach of some type, allowing plasma into the wheel well area or
elsewhere in the wing, could occur.
Other flight data including gear position indicators and drag
information does not support the scenario of an early deployment of the
The search continues for possible debris from Columbia in the western
U.S., but as of early Thursday, no debris further west than Ft. Worth,
Texas has been confirmed as Shuttle-related.
D. Husband, Commander
Rick Husband, 45, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, was a test
pilot and veteran of one space flight. Selected by NASA in
December 1994, Husband logged more than 235 hours in space. +
C. McCool, Pilot
William C. McCool, 41, a commander in the U.S. Navy, was a
former test pilot. Selected by NASA in April 1996, McCool was
making his first space flight. +
Ramon, Payload Specialist 1
Ilan Ramon, 48, a colonel in the Israeli Air Force, was a
fighter pilot who was the only payload specialist on STS-107.
Approved by NASA in 1998, he was making his first space flight. +
I would like to thank the official NASA website, where much of the
information on this website was obtained. Please visit the NASA
website for valuable information on our space program.
Background Information on the
Columbia Space Shuttle Mission STS-107
STS-107 Mission Summary
STS-107 Flight: January 16-February 1, 2003
Commander Rick D. Husband (second flight),
Pilot William C. McCool (first flight),
Payload Specialist Michael P. Anderson (second flight),
Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla (second flight),
Mission Specialist David M. Brown (first flight),
Mission Specialist Laurel B. Clark (first flight),
Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon, Israel (first flight)
First flight of SPACEHAB Research Double Module; Fast Reaction
Experiments Enabling Science, Technology, Applications and Research
(FREESTAR); first Extended Duration Orbiter (EDO) mission since STS-90.
This 16-day mission was dedicated to research in physical, life, and
space sciences, conducted in approximately 80 separate experiments,
comprised of hundreds of samples and test points. The seven astronauts
worked 24 hours a day, in two alternating shifts.
April 12-14, 1981 (Crew John W. Young and Robert Crippen)
28 flights 1981-2003.
Most recent flight:
STS-109, March 1-12, 2002 Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission
Other notable missions:
STS 1 through 5, 1981-1982 first flight of European Space Agency built
Spacelab. STS-50, June 25-July 9, 1992, first extended-duration Space
Shuttle mission. STS-93, July 1999 placement in orbit of Chandra X-Ray