Dissent at NASA

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Some former members of the space shuttle Columbia investigative board say they wonder why the agency overruled a top safety officer on a crucial decision last week.

NASA's top leaders put off any further design changes to so-called ice frost ramps on the space shuttle's external fuel tank despite concerns from engineers. NASA decided to see how recent changes, made to prevent insulating foam from breaking off the tank, hold up on Discovery's July flight.

The members of the now-disbanded board say they're encouraged that NASA's leaders pay more attention to dissenting opinions, but one wondered why a safety officer is needed if NASA isn't going to listen.

Foam breaking off from the external tank doomed Columbia and its seven astronauts in 2003, when the shuttle broke up during re-entry over Texas.

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