Spaceflight Now STS-107

NASA announces Columbia accident investigation board
Posted: February 2, 2003

Retired U.S. Navy Admiral Harold W. Gehman, Jr., to lead investigation board. Photo: Navy
NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today announced the members of the Space Shuttle Mishap Interagency Investigation Board, which will provide an independent review of the events and activities that led up to the tragic loss of the seven astronauts Saturday on board the Space Shuttle Columbia.

The board's first meeting is scheduled for tomorrow at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

Retired U.S. Navy Admiral Harold W. Gehman, Jr., who co- chaired the independent commission that investigated the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Aden, Yemen, Oct. 12, 2000, and once served as the commander-in-chief of U.S. Joint Forces Command, will chair the panel.

"While the NASA family and the entire world mourn the loss of our colleagues, we have a responsibility to quickly move forward with an external assessment to determine exactly what happened and why," said Administrator O'Keefe. "We're honored to have such a distinguished panel of experts, led by Admiral Gehman."

Other members of the investigative board includes:

  • Rear Admiral Stephen Turcotte, Commander, U.S. Naval Safety Center, Norfolk, Va.
  • Major General John L. Barry, Director, Plans and Programs, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio
  • Major General Kenneth W. Hess, Commander, U.S. Air Force Chief of Safety, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.
  • Dr. James N. Hallock, Aviation Safety Division Chief, U.S. Department of Transportation, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Steven B. Wallace, Director of Accident Investigation, Federal Aviation Administration, Washington
  • Brigadier General Duane Deal, Commander 21st Space Wing, Peterson Air Foce Base, Colo.
Several senior NASA leaders also will be a part of the panel, including G. Scott Hubbard, Director, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. Bryan D. O'Connor, NASA Associate Administrator and former astronaut, Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, Headquarters, will serve as Ex- Officio Member, and Theron Bradley, Jr., NASA Chief Engineer, NASA Headquarters, Washington, will be Executive Secretary.

"We need to be responsible, accountable, and extremely thorough in this investigation," added Administrator O'Keefe. "This panel is charged with a most difficult task, but I am confident in their ability, their integrity, and their dedication to doing what's right. Their findings will help push America's space program successfully into the future."

"Currently, NASA is beginning an internal investigation, drawing on the extensive expertise throughout the agency. Public officials for NASA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other federal, state, and local entities are coordinating talents to help find the cause of this tragedy," concluded Administrator O'Keefe.