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Report: NASA changing shuttle risk standards
Updated: Fri, Apr 22, 2005, 1:30 PM ET (1730 GMT)
Originally Posted: Fri, Apr 22, 2005, 9:08 AM ET (1308 GMT)
STS-107: launch (NASA/KSC) NASA has relaxed standards covering the risk of damage to the shuttle from debris during launch, raising concerns among some NASA employees, the New York Times reported Friday. NASA officials confirmed to the Times that they have changed the level of acceptable risk of damage to the shuttle's leading edge panels caused by ice shaken loose from the external tank during launch. That level of risk, previously at the three-sigma level, has been changed to the two-sigma level; NASA officials said the move was neither unprecedented nor unreasonable. The Times first found out about the change in documents forwarded to the newspaper by several employees, who remained anonymous because of fears of retribution. NASA plans to soon present its final analysis of debris risks to the orbiter to the Stafford-Covey task force examining NASA's implementation of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's recommendations. A NASA spokesman told Reuters on Friday that while NASA concurred with the technical description of the issue reported in the Times article, it disagreed with the assertion that safety was being compromised.
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