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CAIB to recommend NASA changes regardless of final cause of accident
Posted: Wed, May 21, 2003, 7:06 PM ET (2306 GMT)
STS-107 patch (NASA) The chairman of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) said Tuesday that the CAIB will recommend significant changes in how NASA operates the shuttle even if the board doesn't reach a final conclusion on the cause of the accident. Harold Gehman said the board's inability to date to come up with a detailed analysis of the cause of the accident may be a "blessing in disguise", allowing the board to focus more on structural and managerial problems within the agency. The board still believes that a piece of foam falling from the external tank during launch, striking the leading edge of the left wing, was the root cause of the accident, but there is as yet not enough evidence to firmly back that conclusion. Analysis of shuttle debris recovered from the accident has turned up slag on the inside of a leading edge fragment, allowing investigators to pin the breach in the leading edge to the corner of panel number 8 or the T-seal between that and panel 7. The CAIB is still scheduled to complete its report before Congress goes on summer recess at the beginning of August, but Gehman left open the possibility of extending that deadline if they need additional time to finish the report.
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