Twenty years after the Columbia catastrophe, is NASA’s security tradition mounted?

During the launch of space shuttle Columbia in 2003 a chunk of foam fell off the external tank and struck the orbiter's left wing.

Enlarge / In the course of the launch of house shuttle Columbia in 2003 a bit of froth fell off the exterior tank and struck the orbiter’s left wing. (credit score: NASA)

Leaden skies and chilly air greeted Milt Heflin 20 years in the past right this moment when he pulled into the massive car parking zone exterior Mission Management at Johnson Area Middle in Houston.

Though house shuttle Columbia was as a consequence of return to Earth after a two-week mission, the middle was quiet on a Saturday morning. When Heflin, chief of the flight director workplace at NASA, walked into Mission Management, he discovered the statement room almost empty. Whereas the shuttle’s seven astronauts made their ultimate preparations to enter Earth’s environment, Heflin chatted amiably with the room’s solely different occupant, a mission operations chief named Ron Epps.

Via giant glass home windows, the 2 appeared out over Mission Management. Because the shuttle’s floor monitor started to cross over america, making its method throughout the southern tier of states towards Florida, Heflin started to sense that each one was not nicely. “I bought the sensation that one thing was not proper from the actions of the flight controllers,” he mentioned.

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