Sunday, June 08, 2003

NY Times -- Costs and Risk Clouding Plans to Fix Shuttles

NASA is already working to fix the hardware problems that contributed to the shuttle's fiery break-up on Feb. 1. But the independent board that is investigating the accident has made it clear that the space agency itself also needs fixing. And that will be much harder to do.

Engineers are moving swiftly to prepare the remaining three shuttles to return to space, pressing ahead with a redesign of key components of the external fuel tank and discussing new ways to apply foam insulation and to repair the orbiter in flight.

The board has determined, however, that the accident was largely caused by failures of decision making and communications at NASA that amount to systemic trouble in the space agency. The board is getting ready to call for changes that would require a major infusion of money to rejuvenate the program.

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