Spaceflight Now STS-107

Large section of shuttle debris believed located
Posted: February 2, 2003

NASA sources say a sizeable section of what may be the shuttle Columbia's forward fuselage has been found near the Lufkin-Nocogdoches area southeast of Dallas near the Louisiana border. Recovery teams continue to search for remains of Columbia's astronauts and while sources say remains have, in fact, been found, no details about the astronauts have been released out of deference to family members.

Veteran shuttle commander James Wetherbee is coordinating NASA's initial recovery efforts from Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, La. Jerry Ross, veteran of seven shuttle missions, is coordinating recovery of Columbia's crew. Any remains found, sources said, will be transferred to Barksdale and then flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for examination.

NASA and contractor engineers, meanwhile, continue studying telemetry from Columbia to precisely characterize how the shuttle's myriad systems were operating during the final moments of re-entry. The hope is that data in that telemetry stream will help pinpoint what might have triggered the shuttle's catastrophic break up. In the meantime, debris recovery continues.

A news conference with shuttle program manager Ronald Dittemore and Robert Cabana, director of flight crew operations at the Johnson Space Center, is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. A detailed update will be posted after the briefing is over.

Looking ahead, NASA now plans to hold two news briefings each day, the first from NASA headquarters in Washington at 11:30 a.m. EST and the second, from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, at 4:30 p.m.