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NASA safety center releases initial reports
Posted: Sun, May 16, 2004, 12:40 PM ET (1640 GMT)
NASA An independent safety center established by NASA partially in response to the Columbia accident last year has released its initial set of reports. NASA's Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), located at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, performed four "Pathfinder" studies of various NASA programs in its first six months, only one of which was related to the space shuttle program. In that study, the center studied whether grease used in gears in the shuttle's rudder speed brakes would lose its effectiveness over time; the study found that the grease still worked properly. Other studies looked at concerns involving the aerodynamic properties of the X-43A, a hypersonic test vehicle that performed its first successful test flight in March; leaks of propellant in the CALIPSO earth science spacecraft currently under development; and issues of staffing and instrumentation on the Mars Exploration Rovers project. NESC has received 49 requests for studies of various NASA programs since its creation, and center officials said requests are now being received at the rate of 200 per year.
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