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NASA: request to image Columbia came from military
Posted: Sat, Mar 15, 2003, 8:19 PM ET (0119 GMT)
STS-107 patch (NASA) A NASA official said Friday that a request to photograph the shuttle Columbia while in orbit came to him from the Defense Department, and not the other way around. NASA associate administrator for space flight Bill Readdy told reporters Friday that a NASA employee approached him during the mission, saying that "another agency" — presumed to be the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) — has offered to image the shuttle, provided that NASA made a request to NIMA for such images on an emergency basis. Readdy told the employee that engineers had concluded that any debris impacts on the shuttle during launch had not created a safety-of-flight issue, but that he would agree to any photos NIMA could provide on a "not-to-interfere" basis. This is different than the account published in Friday's Washington Post, which had claimed that Readdy, and not NIMA, had initiated the request for images. No images of Columbia were taken because of the low priority of the request late in Columbia's flight; reconnaissance satellites were busy with other activities during the times they could have observed the shuttle.
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