Columbia Accident Investigator Opposes Obama Plan

Columbia Accident Investigator Opposes Obama Plan

Roger Tetrault, a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) that determined the causes of the space shuttle Columbia tragedy in 2003, warns against forgetting the lessons of Columbia in a letter to Representative Pete Olson (R-TX). Rep. Olson distributed the letter in a “Dear Colleague” missive to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives (the yellow highlighting in the Tetrault letter is in the Dear Colleague version).

Two other members of CAIB have publicly weighed in on the Obama plan and both support it. Former astronaut Sally Ride, who also was a member of the 2009 Augustine committee, participated in the NASA telecon when the FY2011 budget was released on February 1. George Washington University Professor Emeritus John Logsdon expressed his support in an op-ed for Space News in March.

Tetrault’s concern is that while the Constellation program was designed in response to the CAIB report, with safety as its primary design parameter, in his view the Obama plan is repeating history and its tragic results.

“America’s path in space is now threatened by the decisions being proposed in the NASA budget. We are cancelling a program built around the findings and lessons learned from Columbia. There is no clear mission or direction given to NASA, and the use of proven-technologies is being shunned. Further, the choice to commercialize our launch capability provides insufficient safety for the brave men and women that will be asked to ride these rockets. Surely, they deserve the best that we can provide.”

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