Report of the PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident

 

Volume 4 Index

 

Hearings of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident: February 6, 1986 to February 25, 1986

 

Note:
Centered number = Hearing page
[bold number] = Text page.


 

[193] 235

 

PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON SPACE SHUTTLE CHALLENGER ACCIDENT - FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 7,1986

 

National Academy of Sciences
Auditorium
2100 Constitution Avenue,
N.W.
Washington, D.C.

The Presidential Commission met at 9:30 o'clock a.m.

PRESENT:
WILLIAM P. ROGERS, Chairman
NEIL A. ARMSTRONG
DR. SALLY RIDE
DR. ALBERT WHEELON
ROBERT RUMMEL
DR. ARTHUR WALKER
RICHARD FEYNMAN
EUGENE COVERT
ROBERT HOTZ
DAVID C. ACHESON
MAJOR GENERAL DONALD KUTYNA

 

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ALSO PRESENT:
JESSE MOORE, NASA
ARNOLD ALDRICH, NASA
JONATHAN THOMPSON, NASA
MARV JONES, NASA
STANLEY KLINE, Federal Bureau of Investigation

 

Hearings pages 237 through 302 covered a presentation on physical security at Kennedy Space Center and Vandenberg AFB. In the interest of security at Kennedy and Vandenberg, these pages have not been reproduced.

 

 

[194] STATEMENT OF MARV JONES

MR.JONES: Mr. Chairman, members: I'm Marv Jones, Director of Safety, Reliability, Quality Assurance and Protective Services at Kennedy Space Center. The protective services includes fire and security.

Having gone through a rather lengthy title, I will focus on the very last one of those, specifically security. What I'm going to do is to focus on the security prior to the mishap and what we have done after that, and I will not spend a great deal of time, subject to your questions, as to the routine kinds of security that we maintain around the clock -

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 2/17-1]

[195] - other than to say that basically we have a very large reservation, around 100,000 acres. We have perimeter gates, then we have gates with guards further in at the critical facilities, and then finally some internal guards.

Now, you will note on the six or seven viewgraphs that I have a large number of acronyms. I'm sure I will be in trouble with Jesse if I use any of them. There is a list, if all else fails, attached to the back of your briefing that describes what each of these are.

DR. WALKER: Could I just ask one question? Are you completely separate from Patrick Air Force

 

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Base?

MR. JONES: No, we are totally a separate entity, with one exception. The Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center are contiguous, and by agreement between the two organizations the Air Force guards the south side and NASA guards the west and the north side, with the ocean taking care of the east. It's a very cooperative venture, but totally separate.

A few days before the launch we established what is called a Blast Danger Area. This is essentially a circle of about a 4500 foot radius around the launch pad. We also established what we call an Impact Limit Line, which is basically three miles from the launch pad. The purpose of the impact limit line is that, if there is a catastrophic problem, that no major pieces representing danger to property or to life should fall in that particular area.

All of that then becomes a guarded area.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: How large is that area?

MR. JONES: The Blast Danger Zone, sir, is 4500 feet from the center of the pad. It's a circle. And then the Impact Limit Line is basically three miles to the west of that. So that then the pads and the beach then are the unprotected area from the blast.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: It is all sides three miles

 

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around and in the ocean?

MR. JONES: Let me have backup number 12 on the far screen, if I could, please.

What we have done is to effectively determine the maximum yield that the vehicle could generate if we didn't take any destruct action, so that we know essentially what kind of catastrophic situation we would have.

We then go back and draw an Impact Limit Line. In this instance, it is essentially right in front of the vertical assembly building, and then go due north, as you will see.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 2/7-1]

Here we have the dotted line, and we make sure then at launch time that we know that there is no one inside or to the east of that dotted line, which, as you see, comes down right by the landing facility, the vertical assembly building, on out through Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

And then the circles, as you see, are the Blast Danger Areas.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What is the closest spot to the launch site?

MR. JONES: Well, this is actually on pad A, but it's exactly the same for pad B. We have 70 people who are inside

that impact limit line at the time of launch.

 

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CHAIRMAN ROGERS: My question is how far is it from the outside line to the launch pad B?

[196] MR. JONES: From here? This is about three miles, from here to the pad.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So you're fairly comfortable that there were no people within that three mile area?

MR. JONES: Yes, sir, I am, with the exception of 60-odd people that I know who are there, and are there for a good reason. So we restrict access, of course, to that area at about the launch minus three day point and, with the exception of people who have to go to the launch pad for actual work, we also restrict access to the Launch Control Center and critical support facilities, such as some of the communications sites and some of the radar antennas.

Now, during this period of time we actually sweep the area twice daily. It is done with a helicopter with a security team on board. We do it at different times. And of course, we also have the guards that are still out in that area, and they are doing roving patrols and making sure no one gets in there.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Is it fenced in?

MR. JONES: The only fence we can speak to immediately is approximately 1200 feet out from the

 

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center of the launch pad, and it is a complete enclosed fenced in area, with guarded access to get in and out. That is the only fence.

There are other fenced areas, but the whole center as such is not fenced in, no, sir.

DR. WALKER: Does the fence go down to the beach?

MR. JONES: No, it does not. There is on the launch pad, 1200 feet out, and then there's a large open area to the east of both pad A and pad B. Then there is a beach road and then the actual beach itself. But no, they do not go that far out, although access to that beach road and that area is controlled through a guard post.

Now, at this point approximately three days prior to launch, anyone who needs to get into the Blast Danger Area has to go through a rather elaborate series of checks, ultimately being approved by the NASA test director, who is on duty 24 hours a day. And when he arrives at a control checkpoint, he checks in with the guard who is there.

And the guard will not accept that individual's word that he needs to go in. He must radio back to the launch control center and to the console, and then the console will discuss why this man wishes to go in with

 

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the NASA test director. And if he does not know why he needs to get in, he will not approve it. And for example, if there was a problem on the pad with a fire detection system on the structure, he might send an alarm technician in. If the NASA test director was not aware of that problem, he would go back to the control console in the firing room to confirm that they had a requirement. Then he would approve him going in.

So we think we have good controls for any access to the stack or the entire vehicle on the pad at that particular point in time.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 2/7-1]

Let me say that, really up front from our thing, we see absolutely no evidence as of this minute of any sabotage attempt, any willful attempt to damage the hardware, or any terrorist activity. And I might also add, we have no claims of that, which would not be out of character for terrorist activity.

Essentially, as we got closer to the launch, we of course were monitoring all of the security implications, and we simply had no unusual security incidents reported. We also take a pretty [197] good look - and generally, I've been focusing on the land areas right now, but as we got closer to the launch we

 

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implemented certain launch area restrictions in the surface out in the water, and we had normal United States Coast Guard support, and also the Range Control Center, which is operated by the Air Force.

And we had various helicopters and boats operating out there. And in fact, on launch day we had three Coast Guard vessels, five helicopters, plus radar, surveiling the launch area.

And all of the logs and all of the tapes that we have been able to come up with so far reveal that there were never any reported penetrations of any boats in that area. On one of the NASA helicopters we had a brand new security officer who was being trained for the first time, was riding backwards in the helicopter and spotted what he thought was a small boat. It was over water and he was looking over water and had no frame of reference.

And we have interviewed everyone else on that helicopter and we believe that he spotted one of the Coast Guard boats. He thought it was 1200 feet away and it turned out it was more like five miles. He thought it was a 14 footer and it was a 41 footer.

But to substantiate their memories, we have also gone back and reviewed all of the films that would have any evidence of that area. On top of the large

 

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building, the vertical assembly building, there are a couple of cameras and they are essentially looking down at the pad. But, this area, this suspect area behind, and we see no evidence of a ship.

I might add, there were eight to ten foot waves a mile out to sea, and we suggest a 14 footer would have been probably at some degree of risk to have been out there. And so we don't believe that this spotting was accurate.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Did this result in an investigation?

MR. JONES: Sir?

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Did this result in an investigation by you?

MR. JONES: Well, in the course of events post-accident this came up, about three days later, which led us then to go through the interviews and re-examine all of the tapes. And so it was a reaction on our part.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Did you file a report or is there a report of that incident?

MR. JONES: No, sir. It was reported verbally to us, and then we have documented that as part of the files that we are building.

DR. WHEELON: Would it be unusual for such a boat to be in the area at the time of the shuttle

 

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launch?

MR. JONES: No, and I guess if the seas had not been rough it would have been just the opposite. We have experienced - I might add, I've been involved in every single one of the launches. We have had a large number of vessels attempt to get very, very close. We have had a large number of aircraft that have intruded into the area. We have actually had to hold launches for aircraft.

And that is why the Coast Guard is out there, simply because it is very common. It is a heavy area for boating interest, as you know, as well as fishing interest. And in fact, one day we [198] had the QEII simply pull up and stop with a full load of people to see it. And so it is quite common to have vessels.

But they all know the area is closed. Notices are sent out to them to tell them to stay out, and then of course the Coast Guard enforces it, as well as our helicopters, using loudspeakers or hailers.

DR. WHEELON: So if this should turn out to be a valid report, you wouldn't be surprised?

MR. JONES: No, I would not be surprised, that is correct. But at this point there is no evidence to suggest that it was valid. We believe that he saw something, but what he saw is the question.

MR. RUMMEL: Can you clarify the parachute

 

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incident that was reported in the press?

MR. JONES: Yes. As you are aware, the solid rocket boosters are parachuted back. Initially when they come down, a drogue chute deploys, and once that's stabilized then at a certain point the other parachutes are deployed.

And what had happened, as best we can tell, that during the sequence of events post-event, post-accident, and post range safety destruct action, the parachute simply deployed. And what you were seeing then was a part of one of the solid rocket boosters as it came down.

MR. RUMMEL: Was it recovered?

MR. JONES: We do have a large number of those parachutes that came down, but the first report of a paramedic going into the scene by parachute was totally false. That was simply an assumption on the part of the author.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I do think that these two points illustrate what we were saying earlier. Anything that we do not comment on in the report will be subject to later rumors and criticisms that we didn't even investigate those things.

DR. WALKER: These instances will have to be in our report.

 

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CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Absolutely.

DR. WHEELON: How close was the nearest Russian vessel?

MR. JONES: We did not have one that was close enough to be a factor, which is fairly common for us.

DR. WHEELON: How close was the nearest Russian vessel? Not that it was a factor, but how close was it?

MR. JONES: I don't have that information.

DR. WHEELON: Can you find it for us?

MR. JONES: It's no problem finding it. I just don't have it.

I do know that from my own point, that he was not within visual sighting of the areas where we normally - where it would be common to see them. He wasn't three of four miles out, but I will find the exact location and provide that to you.

DR. WHEELON: On previous launches, how close do they come in?

MR. JONES: The closest I have seen them on one of these actual launches was I think about three and a half miles out, outside the legal limit. I have seen them probably within 100 yards of the three mile limit, very early in the Apollo program.

In fact, I believe for STS-1 - and this is

 

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strictly from memory now - I believe they were more interested in the solid rocket booster splashdown area, and so we have seen them in various positions, close or a little further out.

DR. WHEELON: And then just in a qualitative way, on this one were they relatively close or relatively far away?

MR. JONES: To the best of my knowledge, the closest one was up north of Charleston, South Carolina. But again, that is from memory and I'm going to have to check it.

DR. WHEELON: So they were nowhere near the area? They were unusually absent?

MR. JONES: No, they have been off and on. We have had several launches where they didn't show up.

DR. WHEELON: On this launch were they unusually absent or in their normal position?

MR. JONES: Their normal position, from my perspective.

DR. WHEELON: Could you clarify that and be a little more precise?

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Jess, I think on those points you should have a complete file, and I don't care what you call it. We will have to have a section dealing with every one of these things. If we don't exclude

 

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every possibility with some convincing evidence, we're going to be subject to criticism for a long, long time. And if you remember the Warren Commission, that is exactly what they were criticized for, failing to do this and that and other things.

They did a good job and they did all the things, probably, that any commission should do, but for years they have been subject to that kind of criticism.

So each one of these things, by asking the question we don't mean you haven't done a good job. We just want the material, so that you will have it ready when we need it, to exclude these possibilities.

And we are going to be working on the exclusion theory most of the time, probably. We're not going to discover something, so we're going to have to exclude a lot of these things and say, here is what's left.

MR. MOORE: Yes, sir. We will make sure that gets documented in great detail, and go back and look at the history from the first flight all the way up to this one, and try to give you a relative comparison of it.

MR. HOTZ: I think the point here is, how many - do they - or how do they behave when there is a launch of unusual interest, in contrast to how they behaved here.

MR. JONES: We've seen their interest vary from

 

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high level of interest, close by, to no interest at all, simply by not being in the immediate vicinity and so you wouldn't be aware of it.

We know through intelligence sources where they are, and routinely prior to the launch the Air Force range commander is briefed on the location of those ships. So it's not uncommon to find them in Charleston or down south and sometimes in transit, going home. And so we get that data routinely.

It is just that I did not get it for this particular flight.

MR. HOTZ: But they didn't appear to be particularly interested in this flight?

MR. JONES: No, not from my perspective.

MR. COVERT: When you say they're highly interested, is that five ships, two ships, one ship?

[200] MR. JONES: In the immediate launch vicinity, I've never seen more than one close by.

MR. MOORE: You also have to realize they put ships in the splashdown area.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Most of the intelligence they get is from other sources, anyway.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 2/7-1]

MR. JONES: One of the other areas that we concern ourselves with prior to launch is what

 

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mail-package screening. Essentially, what we do is to screen all the mail that is addressed to our center director, to the astronauts, and we also take a look at any other mail which seems to be consistent with the profile that one would anticipate finding if you had a suspicious letter or a letter bomb, something of that nature.

And we use the data or information from the FBI to establish what the profile is. And we had no significant mail of any type whatsoever, announcing any threats or any significant events as far as mail was concerned.

We did have a couple of packages that we thought were a little suspicious, and on actual examination again absolutely no significance related to the mishap.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 2/7-1]

 

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MR. JONES: Turning now to the period of time immediately after the mishap, as you would perhaps expect we've had numerous reports of suspicious persons. We've had numerous letters from a wide variety of people around the country.

Primarily, though, they have been of what we would characterize as the kook type, telling us what went wrong. No one in any of those letters has claimed responsibility, announced any threats or anything.

We feel that just because it appears to be a kook letter to us is not in itself good reason to put it in a round file. As a result of that, we're working very closely with the FBI, the Secret Service as necessary, local law enforcement officers, and we intend to pursue each of those to a logical conclusion to satisfy ourself that in fact it was a kook.

DR. WALKER: You say numerous. About how many?

MR. JONES: Oh, I saw five or six yesterday. We have had reports from FBI field offices around the country that they've received some. I think one day last week I had five letters addressed to Jess Moore that we received at Kennedy. I would think probably a hundred would be a fair representation at this point.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: It's amazing there are so few.

 

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MR. JONES: Well, Mr. Chairman, there will probably be a lot more than that ultimately. We also are concerned, of course, with the water areas, and as noted here on the chart that area is still controlled by the Coast Guard while the search and recovery process is going on.

Late - early in the evening after the mishap occurred, the Vice President came down, as I'm sure many of you know, and during his visit there or shortly after he departed we had a small boat that was reported about half a mile off the coast adjacent to Pad B which is shown on the map over there.

He seemed to just pull up and just stop in the water, and he was spotted by our security forces on the beach road. We tried to shine lights out and get some identification off the boat. It was not a large one, and we were never able to identify him.

[201] We tried to raise him with a radio and a PA system, public address hailers, and he did not respond at all, and so we called the Coast Guard.

As you can imagine, this was about nine hours after the accident. The Coast Guard was simply too busy to come and investigate him. He did not declare himself in distress, and after about thirty minutes he drove away, and unfortunately we were not able to get any

 

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identification on him.

Our assessment is at this point it was probably a curiosity seeker, but we're trying to make every attempt to see if we can identify him. I am not encouraged that we will be successful at this point.

DR. WHEELON: From the way you describe this incident, you seemed to identify it with the presence of the Vice President. Did you mean to?

MR. JONES: Yes.

DR. WHEELON: Why?

MR. JONES: I will in fact come back to that in a couple of minutes.

Well, what we have taken a look at was what was not normal, and was it not normal because of some malfunction? Was it not normal because it doesn't happen? The Vice President being there is not normal. He doesn't routinely come down there. We had that boat incident that I just referred to. We had the Vice President on hand.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Could you give us the facts again on the boat matter? I wasn't clear on the facts.

MR. JONES: It seemed to be a small boat in the 15-18 foot range.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What happened to the man in the boat?

 

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MR. JONES: The boat stopped about a half a mile out to sea, approximately adjacent to the launch pad that we have used. We signalled him with flashlights, car lights, tried to speak to him on loudspeaker systems in the police car. He never responded to us at all. He never identified himself. We had no radio transmissions from him at all.

We asked the Coast Guard to come investigate, and since the ship had not declared himself in distress the Coast Guard opted to not show up.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Then what happened?

MR. JONES: Then he - -

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: He didn't land or anything?

MR. JONES: No, sir. There was no evidence. We were standing there with armed guards in case he tried it. He just cranked up his engine and left.

DR. WALKER: It's not illegal for that person to be there because it's not a launch.

MR. JONES: That's right.

DR. WHEELON: But why do you tie that to the Vice President's presence?

MR. JONES: Because of the presence of the Secret Service there and his presence, we were being very sensitive to any event that was out of the ordinary, and

 

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that was out of the ordinary.

We were also concerned because of the mishap with anything that was out of the ordinary.

At approximately the same time, and I don't have the precise times with me. Over on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station there is a balloon that is called - well, it's tethered aerostat radar system, or nicknamed Fat Albert. Fat Albert crashed into the ocean at approximately the same [202] time. All three of these mishaps occurred, of course, shortly before noon. The Vice President arrived at 5:00 and was there until around 7:30. This event occurred about thirty minutes later, and within an hour of that time the balloon fell into the ocean.

The initial report on the balloon falling in was that there was a report of small arms ground fire, obviously a non-normal event, and that gave us a great deal of concern. It now turns out that the investigation revealed the balloon was being hoisted back up. It is taken down routinely before Shuttle launches and was going back up to aid in air traffic control over the search area because we had a large number of airplanes.

The balloon was probably up over 10,000 feet. The tether broke, and as each of the different strands

 

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began to break under a lot of stress and high strain, then the Accident Investigation Board believes at this time, and their findings are not final, that what was heard was in fact the strands breaking.

So these were the not-normal events that I would actually include in there, and of course ground fire being heard within approximately ten miles of the Vice President gave us some concern, but again, no evidence whatsoever that there was ground fire.

MR. HOTZ: Fat Albert doesn't normally fly that high, does it?

MR. JONES: Normally it's about 12,000 feet.

DR. WHEELON: If the Vice President hadn't been there, would you have been surprised that there was a boat in the place you described?

MR. JONES: I think because of the mishap, yes, because we wanted to keep that whole area sterile at this point. It was obviously just a few hours after the accident, and we simply did not know what had occurred. We knew that we had floating debris out there. We had objects being washed up on the shore by this time, and I would not have wanted him there.

Now, I do not know as of right now what time the Coast Guard declared it a closed area. That is part of our trying to tidy this particular event up, because the Coast Guard did close that area to all surface

 

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shipping.

DR. WHEELON: But you see the point of my question. You were tying it into the Vice President's being there. Had the Vice President not been there and he had still come, perhaps he was unwitting of the Vice President's presence and he was in an area where he shouldn't be, and all that sort of thing.

But it seems pretty normal to me that there would be a lot of curiosity seekers. Why are you so concerned with this?

MR. JONES: I'm not concerned with it at all, sir. I just simply am reporting the facts to you as I see them.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Jess, consider if you will, and you don't have to decide now, whether at some time in a public session this kind of report would be useful.

MR. MOORE: Okay.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: In other words, this is the kind of thing that would show care, and it would show that you have done a lot of work ahead of time and you have excluded some possibilities in public, so that would give us a basis for the report that we will make.

MR. MOORE: Yes, sir. I think that if we continue to go in and get most of the details put in to place and kind of get a big picture story, then I think

 

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we can talk to you about some version that is going to the public.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I think that you might keep in mind what kind of public sessions we can have without damaging your investigation and still reassuring the public that a lot of things are being done.

MR. MOORE: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Go ahead.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 2/7-1]

MR. JONES: The next day after the launch we decided that one of the most important things that we could do was to search the area immediately adjacent to the pads, and we were perhaps somewhat influenced by what Dr. Kutyna suggested in view of the latter part of this in a sabotage event.

What we did was take thirty of our very well specially trained investigators and formed up five-man teams, and we spent the next three days closely examining the entire area within 2,000 meters of the launch pad; some pretty formidable terrain, some wild animals, alligators, virtually impassable areas out there.

We were simply searching for any evidence that someone had been there; food, paper, cigarette butts, scuffed areas, broken branches, flattened weeds. We

 

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simply found nothing.

Now, related especially to the sabotage issue, we did find a few items of debris that could be orbiter related. We very carefully plotted where all of those were. We photographed them in place. If they could, we felt, stay secure, we would leave them there and get a trained engineer who would understand the thing better than my security people would, to come take a look at it.

To date we have found - well, I think we found about 25 items, many of which we have discounted as being orbiter related, a couple that were related to the vehicle. It is not uncommon to find a little bit of foam, for example, and an occasional piece of a tile, those kinds of things.

But no one who has examined the debris that we have found to date reads any special significance into it. We do have, of course, exactly where it was located.

As a separate action while we were doing the area outside of that perimeter fence which I referred to a few moments ago, we had a special facilities team, who understood the launch pad from an engineering point of view, do a complete walkdown of the launch pad, and that data will of course be available to you in a later forum.

After they finished, then we went back with some of our security people to take another complete

 

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look at the entire area, essentially from the very top of the fixed service structure all the way to the ground. Yes, we started yesterday morning and should have finished late last night after I left for here, with a complete security investigation of the entire inside of the area.

Again, as of now, we have not found anything of any concern to us, and we have continued on using the mail, as I referred to a little bit earlier, and we are working with all of the other agencies who have perhaps received mail or those who have not. We're using their talents to help us in our use of it.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 2/7-1]

[204] MR. JONES: As we get official mail for the Board, it goes to the investigative board that we have. Unofficial mail goes to our public affairs office, and any suggestions or information relating to the mishap goes to the security office as well.

Additionally what we're doing, we are continuing to review all of the films that we have. The 60-odd people that I referred to who were inside the Impact Limit Lines are all being interviewed. We are satisfying ourselves that there were always two or more people together, that no one person was in there alone.

We are in direct liaison with the Air Force

 

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Office of Special Investigations and the Naval Investigative Service, the local law enforcement agencies, the state as well as the FBI, as I was saying, and the real bottom line is, sir, as of this point there have been no claims of responsibility, and we have no evidence at this point that there was any attempt of sabotage or terrorism related to the orbiter. Just because we haven't found anything doesn't mean that we will stop looking.

DR. WALKER: The 60 people who were there, would they be doing things like operating cameras?

MR. JONES: Yes, there were camera operators, security personnel at various roadblocks, and fire, crash and rescue in the event that we had a problem on the pad to help the flight crew get out of the pad and get into a safe area.

DR. WALKER: So, they were all officially there?

MR. JONES: They were all there. We know exactly who they were and what their job is. It is a very limited number, and that is why we know precisely who the individuals are.

DR. WHEELON: Let me address a question to you and to Jess, if I may, meaning both the security and the technical side.

 

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By the inspections that you, visual and otherwise, that you performed prior to the launch, can you preclude the possibility that an explosive was attached to the vehicle?

MR. JONES: I would say from my perspective, no, I cannot exclude that until I have examined all of the film and satisfied myself and looked at it [or]

MR. MOORE: I was just going to say that what we have tried to do is to look at the outside aspects of this thing to make sure that we could not find any, and we did not find anything suspicious.

We still plan to continue the investigative process, but we can't exclude that as an absolute possibility until we look at all of the photos from all aspects, and it's not clear that we're going to get coverage of all aspects of the areas we might be interested in. We can't exclude that possibility.

DR. WHEELON: Was the vehicle thoroughly photographed prior to launch?

MR. MOORE: Yes, we have photographs of the vehicle very, very close up prior to the liftoff.

DR. RIDE: Did you get pictures of the right SRB?

MR. MOORE: We got pictures of the right SRB; not total, however. They are in stacks. There are parts of it that are

 

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excluded and so forth that we do not have pictures of, Sally, so there may be some area there that you're just not going to see anything.

[205] GENERAL KUTYNA: Jess, on our guidance systems the accelerometers are sensitive enough if I had an explosion aboard my vehicle it would be picked up by the accelerometer. Does the Shuttle have the same kind of sensors?

MR. MOORE: The Shuttle has some pretty sensitive things on it to pick up G-loads and the movement of the bird, like that and so forth, and that data is under work right now.

GENERAL KUTYNA: So as you analyze it, possibly if you had anything you would see it?

MR. MOORE: The loads analysis is a very critical question we're addressing right now in addition to the events time line which, as I said earlier, needs great correlation from everybody that was taking flight data in real time, and that seems to me is a systems thread one has to go through to get the people to agree on what the events are.

Then the loads analysis is another major effort that is going on right now to try to understand the dynamics of the loads that were on that vehicle as a function of its flight.

DR. WHEELON: Did you take - not have you analyzed, but do you have in your possession a good

 

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photographic coverage of the area of the SRB which is presumed from the in-flight photography to have been a problem?

MR. MOORE: We have good photography of that SRB, but we do not have photography competely 360 degrees around the SRB, so there are some limited zones that we do not have photography of.

DR. RIDE: But I think there is photography of the area where the plume comes out.

MR. MOORE: There is photography but, Sally, there is not photography of exactly where the origin is at this point in time. At least the guys have told us that we do not see that area exactly where it comes out.

DR. WHEELON: But is there prelaunch of that area?

MR. MOORE: There are prelaunch photos of the entire stack that our photography team is going into and putting together right now, including as I might say prelaunch closeout photographs of all the flight segments and the various phases. We are trying to pull that whole stream of photographs together.

DR. RIDE: Do you do closeout photos of the vehicle on the pad just a day or two before, or are most of those closeout photos in VAB?

MR. MOORE: Most of those closeout photos are

 

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on the VAB. There are some pictures taken at prelaunch but not in great detail from the time it goes to the pad until the time of launch.

DR. WHEELON: What kind of closeout photography do you have on the day of the launch?

MR. MOORE: The photography we have on the day of launch is the still cameras that were sitting there taking pictures during the actual liftoff. How many pictures have we seen of that still photography, Arnie, ten or so?

MR. ALDRICH: We personally have not looked at but a small percentage of the total number of films and locations. They are available.

MR. MOORE: But we have a real time camera that looks at the launch pad that is transmitted back into our console area that looks at video and so forth. There are also cameras that are sitting out at the pad.

DR. RIDE: I was going to ask you about those. There are a million cameras on the pad. Are they running the day of launch?

[206] MR. MOORE: They are running at some time before launch, Sally. I don't know exactly that time. Marv, do you happen to know that time?

MR. JONES: Well, there are a series of them out there, sir, activated one of two ways. One

 

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sound activated, and the others are light activated. So essentially, Sally, they would be at ignition.

DR. RIDE: I'm talking about the ones that are basically - gosh, there must be almost a hundred percent coverage of the pad. You can't stand any place there without being in view of a camera. Just on, if you go out there a month before launch or something, there are cameras running all the time everywhere, and I was just wondering when those are turned off.

MR. MOORE: I don't know the answer to your question, and our photography team down at the Cape is pulling all of that data together and we have not looked at that data yet. We haven't had a chance to look at it, and I don't know the answer to your question. I don't know specifically when they are turned off. There are a lot of cameras out there.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Would the Commission be able to look at those pictures whenever we want?

MR. MOORE: Yes, sir, we would be more than happy to provide this Commission with any of the photographic data that we are looking at.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: It probably would be better to do it down there.

MR. MOORE: Yes. There's a photography lab that we had set up down there, and we have got a major

 

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team of people that are just doing nothing but looking at photography and trying to enhance the photography and looking at it from different aspects.

So, yes, at the appropriate time it would be quite good.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: We would not want to do it at a time that would interfere with whatever they're doing, but from the time standpoint I think that would be useful, just so we don't interfere with the analysis.

MR. MOORE: Yes, sir, and I would say sometime in the next several days or week or week and a half we would probably begin to have a good photographic story together on the sequences that we see.

We may not have all of the fine enhancement done yet on the photography, but I think we will have a good knowledge base of the data in terms of the complete set of events sometime within the next several days or week.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Is this classified?

MR. JONES: No, sir.

MR. MOORE: Only sensitive from the standpoint of the public and exciting the public again.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Why don't we give it back to you? We don't need it.

MR. ACHESON: Has there ever been a sniper

 

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incident at the Center?

MR. JONES: No, sir. One of the things that we thought, that Dr. Graham suggested that we offer to the Commission, is the subject of the generic terrorism threat at Kennedy Space Center.

We have asked the FBI to share that information with us, and I think they will have a few minutes on that.

[207] DR. WALKER: Can I just ask one question on that? Would you say that your security is sufficiently tight so that in your mind no one unauthorized could have gotten to the vehicle at any time when it was undergoing any of its operations at the Cape? It sounds like that is the case.

MR. JONES: We believe that we have a very positive control system. I would be very hesitant to say absolutely no one can get in. I think I would be foolish to make that commitment to you, but I think we have a pretty positive control system.

DR. WALKER: The intent is good.

MR. JONES: The intent is good. I think we have reasonably good control.

DR. RIDE: As a result of what you've been doing just the last week or so, have you come up with any suggested improvements for the security system, or

 

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have you got any recommendations?

MR. JONES: Oh, I could come up with a million dollars worth of improvements probably overnight, Sally; infrared detectors, closed circuit TV cameras, intruder alarm detection systems. But yes, I could improve on the system.

DR. RIDE: I guess that is kind of the same as Art's question, which was do you think it is possible for somebody to have gotten on there and sabotaged it, not on this particular launch but just generically? Is that something you're concerned about?

MR. JONES: One, I think, it would have to be an orchestrated effort by more than one person because I think we try to - -

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Could you just say you can assume that what is happening in the world is that there are all kinds of orchestrated efforts and they always have more than one person, so that's an assumption.

MR. JONES: We try to keep two-man control anytime anyone is out there. There are obviously times when you can't do that, when you're getting back into the aft end of the engine department, and so on.

But we do try to make that effort.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I think this is really a

 

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vitally important issue because of terrorism in the world. I mean, this is a natural place, particularly with this accident.

MR. MOORE: Yes, sir. As visible as the Shuttle program is worldwide, I totally agree with you.

 

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CHAIRMAN ROGERS: It seems to me we should continue to draw on this one as long as necessary to make sure it is absolutely secure.

DR. RIDE: I think this is a good area of investigation to be sure what the possibilities for sabotage are.

MR. JONES: We have done some fairly lengthy studies and tried to come up with some scenarios, and then we have characterized those in terms of attractiveness to an outsider, and then in terms of likelihood, and then we have those kind of numbers.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: When you talk about attractiveness, do you have any scenario to handle a small plane with a suicide pilot?

MR. JONES: No, sir. Well, yes, we do, as a matter of fact, and I think that I would have to say that we are - and I would like to treat this portion of it, sir, if I could, as classified.

[208] It is simply a vulnerability that we cannot address. It is rather ironic that one week ago today I was supposed to be in this very building meeting with the Presidential Protective Detail to discuss their procedures of how they protect the air

 

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space over the White House, and that was an arranged meeting which, of course, was cancelled, but to address that very subject.

DR. WALKER: But this is an area of concern for you?

MR. JONES: Well, I think it is, and of particular concern, and I happen to have had a military background as General Kutyna does. The rules of engagement are horrifying. An airplane comes toward the launchpad and you get terribly concerned. At what point do you shoot him down? Only to find that it was a poor young man from Memphis on his way home from the Bahamas, and was curious. I mean, he shouldn't have been in that air space.

DR. COVERT: Or lost, even.

MR. JONES: But it could occur. And that is kind of a real problem to come to grips with. The rules of engagement and how do you protect a 40-story building which is the launchpad with a vehicle on it?

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: All you have to imagine is the type of terrorist who drove the truck into our embassy, and I guess I accept the fact that probably there isn't anything you could do that is completely safe. But I do think the record should reflect that you are giving a lot of consideration and you are trying

 

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to do something, and that there are some steps that can be taken along that line. I think that would be very helpful.

MR. MOORE: Yes, sir. We have not given up looking into the internal prospects as well. I mean, I think Marv Jones and company have done a good job of sweeping some of the areas. He told me that they walked over some areas on the land around the launchpad down there.

That is probably the first people since the Indians left that area down there, and so they have covered a lot of acreage around the pad, but I do think that we have to continue to look internal as well at our own system to see if there are some suspected areas that we would want to proceed on. So I think this is by far not closed at this point in time, and we need to continue to work this area.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Thank you very much.

MR. MOORE: Sir, the next thing is that we asked for a very short presentation by the FBI on the general threat in the area, just as some background information for the Commission.

[209] Viewgraphs introduced by Marv Jones on February 7, 1986 were not published for security reasons.

 


Viewgraphs introduced by Marv Jones on February 7, 1986 were not published for security reasons

[Ref. 2/7-1]

 

[210] 341

STATEMENT OF STANLEY KLEIN, FBI

 

MR. KLEIN: Thank you. My name is Stanley Klein. And I am an FBI special agent, and as such, I direct the bureau's counterterrorism efforts in the United States, both domestic and international. I am assigned to FBI Headquarters.

I would like to begin by saying that Director Webster expresses his greetings and offers the full resources of the FBI to this Commission and to NASA. We are now working with NASA in Florida and throughout the country in trying to dispel, if that is what we should do, any hint that a terrorist has committed sabotage and caused the explosion of the Space Shuttle.

What I would like to do is touch on terrorism briefly, what we see in this country and what we view as the major threats, what we have seen so far, and some of the inquiries we have looked at based upon information supplied to us by private citizens and the news media, et cetera, and where we stand and where we hope to go in the future.

We have approximately 18 domestic terrorist organizations currently under investigation and 40 some odd international terrorist organizations under investigation operating within this country with many hundreds and hundreds of supporters and infrastructures

 

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and groups, et cetera, and it is a tangle of motives and ideals and religious fanaticism, et cetera. I would like to concentrate on Florida more than anything else to show you what we see there now. Between 1981 and 1983, there were nine bombings and seven attempted bombings and one kidnapping carried out by terrorist groups or alleged terrorist groups in the Florida area. All 17 of these incidents were in Miami, Florida.

There has been no indication of terrorist activity up around the Cape, and there don't seem to be any groups operating in that area. A group called Omega 7, which was an anti-Castro Cuban group some of you might have heard of, were the perpetrators of these bombings. The leader, Eduardo Arencino, was arrested not too long ago, and is currently serving a life plus 55 year sentence, I believe, and with his prosecution and conviction, there have been no terrorist acts in Florida since that time, in the past year or two.

The major threats in the United States right now, we believe, are posed by Libya, by Iran, and by domestic terrorist groups operating out of Puerto Rico, which is not that far from Florida. As far as Iran is concerned, we have seen no terrorist acts committed by that country in this country.

 

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Most of their activity centers around intelligence-gathering and attempts to purchase weapons and spare parts to ship back to Iran to support their war with Iraq. They have a large organized infrastructure in the United States based mostly on college campuses, and they collect their information from meetings and "askings that they get directly from Iran, and we believe [211] we are about as on top of their operations as we can be at the present time. We don't believe that any Iranian terrorists were involved in the action on the disaster of the Shuttle.

Libya. Although Mr. Qaddafi makes a lot of pronouncements and he makes it seem as though he can reach into our streets, I believe, and our investigations have shown that he has not as yet reached into our streets. When he has attempted to, we have been able to stop him. The attempts of intelligence officers that he sends into this country are almost naive. They seem to be the gang that couldn't shoot straight. They go through intermediaries to get things done, and because they do, we are able to insert often undercover agents and thwart their plans before they occur and arrest their operatives.

DR. WHEELON: Stop right there. You would agree they reach into the streets of Lebanon, wouldn't

 

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you?

MR. KLEIN: Absolutely. Could they reach into the streets here? Of course.

DR. WHEELON: And haven't they drilled some of their own people here on our own streets?

MR. KLEIN: What Qaddafi has done is offered training to individuals in the states that he believes would form a support base for his view, his Green Book view of what the Arab world should be in the states and support his causes, and because of that people have been flown or have flown themselves to Libya and participated in training in that country.

Most of that training is what you and I would refer to as basic training, some basic military skills, political indoctrination, and through the intelligence community and through our sources we have not seen Americans being trained there for what we would define as terrorist activity.

DR. WHEELON: I appreciate all of that, but isn't it true that they have in fact killed their own people here in this country?

MR. KLEIN: They have made attempts to assassinate dissidents in this country. And the last instance was about a year ago, when they did send an intelligence officer into the United States, and he was

 

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forming up an organization to plan the assassination of anti-Qaddafi dissidents. We were fortunate enough to thwart that plan, and he left the country, and we have the people that are part of his group currently under very close scrutiny.

DR. WHEELON: But there have been no killings?

MR. KLEIN: No, there have been no terrorist acts in this country involving assassinations, murders, or bombings that were supported by Qaddafi unless you go back to the assassination that occurred in Colorado by a surrogate, whose name escapes me at the moment, who did shoot, attempted assassination, I should say, a Libyan dissident in Colorado.

This guy was part of the Wilsin-Terpil network, and of course Wilson is in jail now, so he did make attempts, but he has not really succeeded.

DR. WHEELON: I don't think it is relevant. I was just trying to focus in on that.

MR. KLEIN: I just wanted to touch on Iran and Libya briefly to say that we have no information based upon our best intelligence, which includes human sources and technical sources, that either Iran or Libya, our two greatest threats in this country, were involved in any actions against the Shuttle.

That is not to say that information such as

 

[212] 346

 

that might not come up in the future as we continue probing our sources and things such as that. The only viable domestic group would be an organization that calls itself the Macheteros out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. They have been involved in numerous terrorist acts on the island, one of which is interesting because it does involve explosions that damaged aircraft on the island. This occurred on January 12th, 1981, where a series of 18 explosions occurred which totally destroyed a Corsair, two A-7B subsonic attack planes, damage to one Starfire F-104 aircraft, and also some equipment that was in the National Guard air corridors alongside the planes. They went in, cut through a chain link fence, went in at night, planted their explosives, one in the front of the plane and one in the back.

Let's see. There were, I think, eleven devices planted, and it caused $45 million in damages. The Macheteros have also been active in this country. They were responsible for a multimillion dollar armored car robbery in Hartford, Connecticut, in which we have staged a series of raids and arrests in Puerto Rico in the latter part of last year and arrested eleven individuals, the leadership of the Macheteros.

And they are currently incarcerated and about to go on trial, hopefully by the summer or fall in

 

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Hartford for that armed car operation. We do not have any indication that this group, which does have the skills, and could have the desire to make a statement, was involved in any action that was taken.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Are they supported by any foreign governments?

MR. KLEIN: Cuba. The Puerto Rican independence terrorist groups that operate in Puerto Rico we have definite very interesting information that is going to probably come out during the trial process about the Cuban involvement in support of Puerto Rican terrorism going on.

DR. WHEELON: Okay. Now, you fellows rolled up a Puerto Rican gang in Chicago which was preparing for activity about two years ago.

MR. KLEIN: That group was the FALN, which is the Puerto Rican liberation movement in this country. We did conduct a series of arrests. We did arrest a number of people up there. There also have been a number of people arrested in New York and in other parts of the country. Most of the leadership of the FALN is in jail right now. And I think with the FALN in jail and the Macheteros in jail, we are going in the right direction, and that is how we look at terrorism, as criminal acts. I mean, we don't look at it as political acts. And we try to

 

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identify those people who are involved and put them in jail, and all of a sudden the terrorist statistics go down.

DR. WALKER: What about the neo-Nazi group that was just sentenced?

MR. KLEIN: The Aryan Nation is a rightwing organization. Again, its leadership, eleven of them, ten or eleven of them were just convicted of racketeering charges in the state of Washington and are currently awaiting trial. There is no indication, although they certainly have the wherewithal as far as weapons, homemade weapons and explosive expertise to do something like that, there is no indication either that this group was active or is active or has been active in Florida.

DR. WALKER: Going back to Libya, what about Farakhan, who is making some noises about going to Libya?

MR. KLEIN: Yes, we are very interested in Mr. Farakhan.

[213] DR. WALKER: Do you think it is mostly noises?

MR. KLEIN: Well, he certainly received a lot of money from Mr. Qaddafi, and we are looking at that very closely to see if that money will be, could be, might be used to support terrorism in this country. At

 

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tints point in time we can't say one way or another.

DR. WHEELON: What about the parties responsible for the bomb in the Capitol?

MR. KLEIN: We believe there were two cells. I think I will take you back in time a little bit to the old Weather Underground, going back to the SDS days on the campuses, and as I say often, I think most of them when they turned 40 became - their motives changed, yet there was a small, dedicated group of people that were involved in criminal acts and supported revolution in this country.

One of those groups was, one of those cells which moved up and down the east coast from Boston to Washington to Baltimore consisted of individuals that were involved in the robbery of the armored car in Nyack, New York, in 1981. Marilyn Jean Buck's name comes to mind. I don't know if you have heard her name mentioned before. And in her house during the searches that followed her arrest we did find detailed plans in a folder calling for action on various facilities around the country, which included this building, very detailed sketches of where to place a bomb, and also other targets such as some facilities at Annapolis, et cetera.

Most of their bombings occurred in the evening hours. They were preceded by a telephone call. They

 

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did not want to cause any grave, I don't believe, any grave physical damage. Our terrorists as opposed to the ones you see in Europe seem to want to make a statement, and they believe, I think, that the taking of human life detracts from their cause, which is to gather the American people behind them in a socialist communist revolution at some point in time, and that turns people off.

So, most of those individuals also currently have been arrested during the past few years and are currently in jail, and we don't believe that those two cells function or exist any more. I would be surprised to see another bombing like that occur in D.C., but then again there are people out there who could take up the flag.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I think the FBI does a fine job. I am sure you do all you can do prevent it. This is a little bit beyond our jurisdiction. Go ahead. We are having a bit of a time problem here.

MR. KLEIN: I have been working with NASA since the explosion by offering FBI laboratory services to NASA, and we were in receipt of some hairs and fibers on February 2nd from NASA that we have examined in the FBI laboratories, and the exams have been completed, and we do have human hair, Negro hair, Oriental hair, and

 

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hair from two different brown-haired Caucasians, and what is interesting, according to the laboratory, is that there were no signs of heat damage to any of the hair, which was surprising. The hair came from face seals, fragments of helmets, and helmet liners, and headrests.

There have been a number of threats and investigations that we have become involved in since the Shuttle went down. An engineer in a consulting firm for Rockwell Engineering out in California advised the FBI that he believed the Shuttle was hit by a laser, that his examination of the frame by frame stills - I don't know how he recorded it - showed that brown smoke was [214] emitted as opposed to white smoke, which would mean that - the white smoke would indicate a fuel problem, and brown smoke would indicate possibly a laser.

And we have interviewed the chief engineer at Hughes Aircraft, and he believes the theory is plausible but not probable. The FBI agent that interviewed this person believes he is sincere, and not a flake, or not demonstrating any emotional instability, but it is just a theory which we have passed on to NASA.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Is that being taken seriously at NASA?

MR. MOORE: All possibilities are being looked

 

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at. Yes, sir. No possibilities are being excluded.

GENERAL KUTYNA: I tell you, if that guy has got a weapon like that, I would like to put him on my project.

(General laughter.)

MR. KLEIN: There have also been a number of other instances where people have come forward and said they believed that this happened or that happened, and we are following every one of those leads out. At this point in time we pass it on, because we don't have the scientific expertise to say whether their theories are correct or not correct. We just pass it on to NASA and let them be the judge. And so I guess what I wanted to say is, there is no terrorist threat, no information that there is, or was or is a group that planned, organized, or executed any action at Cape Canaveral.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And I am sure you are watching very carefully to see that it doesn't happen in the future.

MR. KLEIN: We are watching very carefully.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Thank you very much.

Any questions?

DR. WALKER: Should we handle these theories with our own discretion? That is, if an individual who

 

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is someone who we know, and if the person has a theory, we handle that in a way that we think best, but if there is someone that you don't know, do you have any advice in that regard?

MR. KLEIN: I am sorry?

DR. WALKER: If someone contacts us personally and has a theory about the explosion, do you have any advice to offer us as to how we should handle that?

MR. KLEIN: Yes. If you could pass it on to either us or NASA, we are conducting these kinds of interviews jointly, so we will take it for possible sabotage violation, and somebody from NASA.

MR. MOORE: It is kind of my repository right now for all of these kinds of things, and we are going to run every one of them down. It is our intention right now.

MR. JONES: If you get some information of that type, either refer it to Jess's office or Stan's, and then while you are down at the Cape area, again, my office, and we will tie this thing together, because I see the highest degree of cooperation between all of the government agencies on this particular operation. No one is worried about turf. Everybody is working together. The Bureau and NASA are working together. And we will handle any of those kinds of things that you

 

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receive.

[215] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Okay. Thank you very much.

MR. MOORE: Let me just add one little more comment to what Mr. Walker said. Don't send it to me by mail. Hand it to me personally or to Marv personally, because I don't think we want to distribute that information in the mail to my office.

MR. THOMPSON: Mr. Chairman, if you want to give it to me, I can take care of getting it to Jess.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Okay. That's fine.

MR. MOORE: We have completed all of our discussions we had planned this morning with you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Why don't you come up here, Jess? Can you tell us now anything beyond what we have read in the newspapers?

MR. MOORE: I can tell you that about 670 or 80 milliseconds after launch we saw a short puff of black smoke come out of the righthand solid. We cannot see the exact origin of it. I have had reports that it is all the way down to where the attached unit from the external tank attaches the solid all the way to some two feet or so above that, which could or could not include the joint, which some people are focusing in on right now.

 

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I can also tell you that we did see some - -

DR. WHEELON: Wait a minute. Excuse me. Within a second of launch?

MR. MOORE: It was less than a second. What was it, Arnie, 680 milliseconds?

MR. ALDRICH: Six-tenths of a second from ignition of the solid, and that is the precise time that the solid comes to full internal pressure.

DR. WALKER: That was before liftoff?

MR. MOORE: No. Let me go through the sequence again. The sequence is, the main engines starts at about 6.3 seconds before actual liftoff from the launchpad. You bring the engines up to near full throttle. Then you send a mission signal to the solids from the GPC, the General Purpose Computer on board. The solids ignite, and that is what we call liftoff. At about 670 or 80 --

DR. WALKER: It doesn't actually lift off then?

MR. MOORE: Well, it takes some pressure to lift it off of the launch support platform.

DR. WALKER: How long does it take the solids to build up?

MR. MOORE: We don't know precisely. That is what we are looking at on

 

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these films, to try to get the precise time that the system unlatched itself from the pad. There will be some variation in there. It is not exactly precise.

This happened about 680 or so milliseconds. It finished at about two seconds or so. And it settled down. We don't see it any more. And the orientation of it on the one set of films that we have looked at is kind of behind the solid. It is kind of obscure. We see the smoke come out, but we do not see, we cannot see on at least the initial films we have looked at exactly the origin of it.

 

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DR. FEYNMAN: Could you remind me whether the oxygen line that comes down along the ET tank and those trays of electrical cables, is it in that area, or is it somewhere else?

MR. MOORE: They are on the right side of the Shuttle. The whole cable tray that you saw yesterday on the bottom and so forth are on the right side of the Shuttle.

DR. FEYNMAN: In a place that could possibly be related?

[216] MR. MOORE: Possibly. The other question that was asked, I guess, Bud asked me earlier about the range destruct and so forth, the linear shape charge that goes up and down the solid, all the way up to approximately the area below the thrustum where the parachutes are stored up, down the segments, up until some 18 or 24 inches above the attach going onto the ET, the linear charge that goes up the solids and each side of the solid.

DR. FEYNMAN: How close is that to the electrical tray?

MR. MOORE: That in terms of distance, I would say a few feet would be my guess to the electrical tray that carries that cable.

Arnie, do you have a better idea?

MR. ALDRICH: You are talking about the shaped charge

 

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on the solid?

MR. MOORE: Yes, where it is relative to the tray on the external tank.

MR. ALDRICH: I don't think we could comment in terms of the clocking radially around the solid with respect to that. I am not sure that I know.

MR. MOORE: It is feet. I mean, it is not very close. I mean, there's the big solids themselves and then there is the distance.

DR. FEYNMAN: I am confused. I thought there was also a destruct tray along the ET.

MR. MOORE: There is.

DR. FEYNMAN: That one, is that close to the electrical line?

MR. MOORE: That is close to the cable tray. There is a cable tray that goes up through the thing, and there is an destruct package down on the top of the tank and one down on the bottom.

MR. ALDRICH: There is a destruct tank in the middle under the orbiter. However, you are asking for information that we know. We have found pieces of both of those cord, and neither has been fired on the external tank.

DR. FEYNMAN: You have found that?

MR. MOORE: Yes, we found that floating.

 

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CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Why don't we let him go ahead and finish, and then we will ask questions.

MR. MOORE: Then that finished at about two seconds, and we did not observe or we have not observed in any of the photography we have looked at up until that period of time, and then there was an unusual event, a forced event that occurred around, what, 40 seconds or so is what the time line chart indicated. And you have a better analysis of that than I have. Why don't you come up here and discuss that?

MR. ALDRICH: This would be a correlation.

MR. MOORE: Is that the time line? We haven't seen that?

DR. RIDE: Yes.

MR. ALDRICH: Without trying to read this, the telemetry events do show indications of happenings as the flame occurs on the solid rocket boosters in flight. And Jess, I can't recall the discussion we had at Marshall about the possibility of some dynamic change at 40 seconds. There was such a discussion.

MR. MOORE: The gimbal angles on the solids moved at about that period of time, as I recall. And they moved about two degrees, and maybe Sally has got it listed in there.

DR. RIDE: I think it is in there. I think

 

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there may be something at around 40 seconds.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Sally, why don't you come up here, too?

DR. COVERT: Sally, what was the altitude, then, 35,000?

DR. RIDE: Probably. I am not sure.

MR. MOORE: The events that we are looking at could be associated with some winds. It could be associated with some loadings and so forth. We send up weather balloons at various times before launch, and the last balloon we did was about two and a half hours.

That balloon data is then sent down to Houston for computing the wing loadings and system loadings on the orbiter at that point in time, and early on, I guess, about 20 hours or 15 hours before launch we had seen some wind changes, but they were within the spec of the envelope and so forth.

DR. WHEELON: At 40 seconds you are at Mach .85 and 16,000 feet going 950 feet per second at 65 percent throttle thrust with a Q of 605.

MR. MOORE: Go ahead, Arnie.

MR. ALDRICH: Looking at this closely, the first thing that I recall started about 60 seconds, and that is when you first began to see the flame on the exterior photos as well, and at that time the thrust

 

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within the solid rocket boosters is building gradually, normally, and they see the lefthand booster, which is the one we suspect performed normally, build along the normal thrust profile, which is a slight increase.

At that time they do not see the righthand rocket. It attempts to stay down, and is affected in some way and does not build.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: And what is the sensor, Arnie?

MR. ALDRICH: I believe the thrust level from the solids is a derived calculation based upon the performance of the stack. Coupled with that, we do have thrust chamber pressure from the solids, and the chamber pressure on the righthand solid does not build, and it does on the right. So both the calculated thrust level and the chamber pressure correlates as not increasing on the righthand side as this bright spot appears on the left, it does appear.

As I say, we haven't been down to Florida in two days, and I haven't seen what Sally has, but further up the cycle, close to the event, as you approach the 70-second time frame, you do see a kick of order of magnitude of two degrees in the gimbals on both solids, both pitch and yaw, or what do you call it, rock and tilt on both solids, and you see a similar minor

 

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adjustment on the main engines as they account for some dynamics, and that is what Jess was describing.

My recollection is, that is higher up, closer to the event.

MR. MOORE: You could be right, because I haven't physically sat down and seen that data in several days, so the timing that you probably have, Sally, is probably the most accurate timing that we have at this point in time.

MR. ALDRICH: And then I recall at about the time that the visual analysis predicts the hydrogen tank first beginning to rupture, where you see hydrogen fuel come out of the hydrogen tank, and on the order of a second later you can see the rupture occur and fuel come out of the oxygen tank. You can also see the main engines which are being fed by these liquids. The main [218] engine chamber pressure decreases slightly because of the lack of feed from the propellant system.

I think those are the only indications that I can remember.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Would you mind going over what you just said about the six-tenths of a second, and then the remainder of it, because I am not quite clear.

MR. ALDRICH: Yes, sir. At ignition T zero on the Shuttle launch is defined as the time we light the

 

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solids as the main engines are lighted at minus 6 seconds, so T zero is essentially the solid rocket ignition. The time of release is slightly different than that, almost precisely the same time. At six-tenths of a second the thrust within the solid rockets builds to its maximum pressure, its normal flight pressure, and in the photos that we have -

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Now, is that when the rocket takes off and leaves the ground at that point, six-tenths of a second?

DR. RIDE: That is sort of hard to define, because as soon as it ignites, it starts trying to get off, and the main engines are already running, and so they are trying to get it off, so the whole process, it is hard to say when it actually is no longer in contact.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But obviously at about that time.

MR. MOORE: Yes, at about that time. I think that is correct.

DR. WALKER: It is not restrained, it is just sitting there?

MR. ALDRICH: No, it has bolts that hold it up.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: It rips them out?

 

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MR. MOORE: They are blown. You want to hold down the launch to make sure that you do a validation check on the main engines. In other words, we want to bring the main engines up to make sure all three are running and you have full redundancy in each engine, and that is a launch commit criteria.

DR. WALKER: Once you start the solids, then you release any constraints?

MR. MOORE: That is correct.

DR. WHEELON: And isn't it true you probably start to lift off before you have the maximum pressure?

MR. ALDRICH: I believe so.

DR. WHEELON: So probably at about .4 you start to move.

MR. MOORE: I think we will be able to tell that when we go back and look at some of the high-speed photography.

MR. ALDRICH: That is my point. I didn't want to imply that that fact can in fact be determined. I just don't know precisely.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But at about that time?

MR. ALDRICH: At about that time, that is what happened, and we can tell you precisely.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But then you see something?

MR. ALDRICH: Let me say one more thing about

 

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blowing the bolts, because that is an important factor. We send the signal to ignite the rockets. At the time it is called T zero, or launch. We also send the signal to fire the bolts, either at precisely that time or within milliseconds of it. But before that, the rockets are bolted solidly, [219] and they see a loading, because the Space Shuttle main engines are cantilevered off the solid rockets.

We light them at minus 6 seconds. The whole vehicle stack actually swings forward and back, and the timing of when you will commit to light - to release and light the solids is timed such that you load that stack this way and back from the main engine ignition, and about the time it is vertical again, that is the 6-second period, and the ignition of the solid, so these boosters give a strong bending load during that 6 seconds up to the time of ignition.

Now, your question, what did we see? At six-tenths of a second after ignition the solid rocket pressure is essentially up to flight level. On the righthand solid in the same area that 60 seconds later you see the flame you see a puff of black smoke, a big puff.

DR. WHEELON: How big?

MR. MOORE: I would say it was a couple of

 

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feet in diameter.

MR. ALDRICH: I would say it was about the size of a main engine bell.

MR. RUMMEL: Would a burning seal produce that black smoke?

MR. ALDRICH: That is under discussion and investigation. The comment I have heard, and I am not an expert, and we don't know the answer yet, is that more likely the grease that is used around the seals if it were burned could cause a smoke of that characteristic. It is a very dark smoke. Most of the flame and smoke you see is light-colored, and this is a very black puff.

DR. FEYNMAN: Possibly from graphite in the liners or something

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Why don't we go ahead and let him tell the rest of it? Then we can come back with questions.

DR. WHEELON: Have you ever seen such a puff before?

MR. ALDRICH: We are researching all flight films, as we do on every flight. No one that has done that viewing the films in the past recalls seeing it before. We are going back to be sure that we haven't missed anything.

 

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DR. WHEELON: So it could have been there?

MR. ALDRICH: It could have been there before. No one recalls seeing it.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Anyway, now you have got the puff of smoke, roughly two feet.

DR. WHEELON: Two to ten.

MR. ALDRICH: I would say two by ten.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Then what happens?

MR. ALDRICH: That seems to persist for 2.9 seconds and stop, because as the stack rises you can see the booster rising through the puff, and it disappears, and there apparently is no evidence of further black smoke or any other condition from that area until the time 60 seconds later that you see this little finger of flame approximately, and by approximately it could be a number of feet apart along the solid either radially or upwards or downwards. We haven't correlated the blownup photos well enough to say how close the two things are together or whether they coincide in their location. They are from that place on the solid rocket booster in a general sense, however.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: If you get to that point where those things are pretty accurately determined visually, will you then be able to isolate the area or could that condition be related to a lot of other [220] things? In other words, does that help you isolate the cause?

MR. MOORE: I think it helps us isolate the cause, but contributing factors, it could be a while to understand what the contributing factors were. The other thing, let me point out, as the cases are put together, I don't know if they were shown yesterday, I don't recall, there are metal pins about that big in diameter and about that long that are inserted around the case. There is a cork lining put around those pins. There is a band and a cork lining around it. And then there is grease put along the outside of that entire segment out there, and so I have heard some comments that the smoke goes up, and others have said the smoke goes out, and so forth, so we don't have that exact origin, but we have really got an area to go and concentrate on.

MR. ALDRICH: I would also like to recall Don's presentation this morning. We of course do discuss scenarios as we go along our path, and there is every possibility that this black smoke is from something completely different from the thing that caused the flame or the thing that caused the accident.

DR. FEYNMAN: This is what we would have called an anomaly? Is that right?

 

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MR. MOORE: There is no question, and we have got the people putting all these anomaly trees together. The way you eliminate the anomalies is, you validate them, and in most cases you need to go through testing or to have previous test data to cross off this as an anomaly, and that is what we are building now, is one giant system anomaly tree, to go through and try to cross off all the things on that tree that we can validate as we test or through other procedures.

MR. ACHESON: How many seconds apart did you say the black smoke and the first visible plume of flame were?

MR. ALDRICH: Sixty. This is fairly close to the ignition and liftoff. Now, when we do the refinement of the photography, it may be that a much smaller flame is visible a good bit earlier than that, but what we have been able to see to date, the flame starts about 60 seconds.

GENERAL KUTYNA: Arnie, I didn't press Judd yesterday, but he talked about erosion, post-flight inspection to find out about erosion of these joints.

MR. ALDRICH: It is an anomaly unless we find a film where we have seen one just like it.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: These incidents all fit very well within Don's anomaly tree.

 

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How much of a problem has that been? Have you got it solved yet, do you think, or do you still think it is sort of an open item?

MR. ALDRICH: It has been in discussion in the program at least during the last year. There are two O-rings around the seal, and on about five, perhaps half a dozen STS flights, on each flight there are six seal areas, three segments, three breaks in each of two solids. There are six seam sets that see the flight experience each time we fly, and on five flights one or at least on one flight two of those seams saw some amount of erosion on the inner O-ring.

That is believed to have occurred at ignition. When you first pressurize, you get some blowby of the first O-ring, but in every case they have seen it stop by the second O-ring. However, that blow-by has caused what they consider to be within an allowable tolerance the amount of degradation called erosion of that O-ring, and then sooting from that degradation occurred between the two O-ring seals.

DR. WALKER: But not beyond the second O-ring?

MR. ALDRICH: Not beyond the second one.

[221] MR. SUTTER: Are these O-rings replaced?

MR. ALDRICH: They are brand new every

 

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flight. There is an interesting factor related here that you should understand. Of all of those instances that occurred, the worst one that we have seen from torndown rockets is the teardown after the launch we did a year ago, also in cold weather. There was more erosion and more blown-by material between the O-rings on that one than on any of the other four or five.

DR. WALKER: Did that one burn two rings?

MR. MOORE: Yes, that was one of the flights - that was the flight where the temperatures were low.

MR. ALDRICH: Everything that I know about the certification of this seal, and this is being worked in much more depth at the Marshall Center than anything that has been reported to our board, is that the certification tests run on that joint show that the seal would be somewhat more stiff, but completely adequate for sealing at all temperatures in the ranges. There was never any intention that the system couldn't be launched in freezing conditions, particularly at 32 degrees. And it is my belief that we expect this Viton O-ring to perform essentially at much lower than that.

MR. SUTTER: They said when these pieces are brought in they are somewhat warped, but they may not be as good as a new piece.

MR. ALDRICH: What they said yesterday was,

 

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they ship these segments on rail cars after they pour them. They pour them vertically, and they are tested for roundness, and then they ship them horizontally all the way from Utah to Florida. They store them there, and sometimes when they at) mate them, they found that they are not completely circular any more, and they have a variety of hang points so that if it is not circular you can hang it up some other way for a little while and it will reform into a full circle, so that they do this check for roundness before they do the mate.

MR. SUTTER: Then maybe that builds some stresses, so again when the load changes it pops back to where it wanted to go.

MR. ALDRICH: Perhaps. We will find as we investigate this that the contractor and the Marshall Center have been very thorough in analyzing the characteristics like that in their buildup of this design and the way it is handled and the procedures. I agree with you. It seems like there is some flaw here we should be looking for, but I think many of the obvious ones will be shown to be completely researched.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: One of the things that - when we ask questions, when we continue to ask questions, we are not really trying to point a finger. Really, this is an area of what can be done to make it

 

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safer. I mean, I don't think anybody, if there were any errors in judgment, God knows, nobody is going to expect everything to be perfect. I think that is one of the reasons that you will see that there is bound to be a lot of discussion on this point, and it may well be that we will decide to recommend that you not retrieve them.

I mean, I know - some people have told me that I thought knew what they were talking about that it might be just as cheap now to buy new ones when you consider all of the problems of recovery and rehabilitation and all of that. Anyway, that is certainly one problem, and there will be continued interest by the public.

[222] The other thing I wanted to mention to you, I thought it was a little unfortunate in the paper this morning that they said that, and I don't think you really said that, that you had excluded the possibility that weather had any effect. I mean, I think weather is also going to be considered very actively by a whole lot of people, and if at the end of the road you decide or we decide to exclude it, fine, but if it appears you have excluded that to begin with, particularly because apparently Rockwell did call and gave you a warning which you considered and decided that it was okay to go ahead, suppose that judgment was wrong. Nobody is going

 

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to blame anybody. I mean, somebody has to make those decisions, and you were all there and made the decision.

MR. MOORE: We made the decision on the basis of the data that was available. Let me say one other thing about weather which didn't come out. Weather is by no means being excluded. My opinion is that that might be a very major factor. During the month of January, I believe, before this launch there was also something like seven inches of rain down at Kennedy. And so that is another element that really has to be looked at, that the associated moisture may have had something to do with it.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And again, the testimony yesterday was that one pad had a rain cover and the other didn't. I mean, those things are of interest.

MR. MOORE: Absolutely, and the differences between Pad A and Pad B, those are being looked at as well. They were looked at before this particular launch. But whether we have put everything in place, we have got to go back and scour that from top to bottom to see, although we did use the same mobile launch platform, I guess, as the previous launches have gone off, but there could be some kind of different loading effects at that particular pad.

 

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MR. WALKER: Is it possible to get a detailed drawing of those seams showing where the O-rings are?

MR. MOORE: Yes, sir.

MR. WALKER: If we could just have a sketch.

MR. MOORE: Yes, sir.

At some point in time, if that continues to be a very high probability area, as it is right now, we think it would be appropriate to bring our experts from the field to talk about this whole thing and give you a very detailed presentation on it. I think that is the best thing to do for the Commission, and we would certainly offer that, to get some more information about the seal area.

The other thing that we are looking at is the checking of those seals at the segment of the stack. There is a pressure port in the seal on the side of the case, that a person goes in and does a pressure check. And that pressure check is done to ensure the integrity of the O-rings, and the pressure check is up to 200 psi, and then it is backed down from 200 psi and brought back up and held at 50 psi.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Is that a plug on the nozzle?

MR. MOORE: It's a plug on the side.

MR. ALDRICH: You blow one O-ring up and you

 

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check it?

MR. MOORE: You check the integrity of the O-rings prior to launch, and that is done several days or a week or so before.

[223] VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: But the pressure would be outside-in in the case of the inside O-ring, then, right?

MR. ALDRICH: That's right. And that is presumably what sets up the position for initial blow-by of the first O-ring. You do the pressure checks and it moves the upstream, the inboard O-ring, upward. And then when you ignite the engine many days later, the first pressure surge hits the O-ring out of the sealed-down position.

And that is what has been alleged to be the most probably cause of the blow-by, in addition to the dynamics of the joint.

MR. MOORE: It should seat the other one.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: It should seat the other one, but it could act like a flapper valve, where you would be pressurizing.

MR. MOORE: That's right.

MR. RUMMEL: In the main joint, I think near the attached fitting, in addition to an O-ring you have a seal that was somehow inserted, I think in the seam.

 

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Is that inserted after assembly?

MR. MOORE: There is a putty that is laid up on the segments there. I think it's a zinc chromate putty that is laid up on the segments as they fit together prior to the assembly, and then the segment is put down with a male section of the segment down into the female section of the segment.

And then that fits around, the case segment fits around, and you've got putty around this area, and then there are holes, about 175 or 180 holes, about an inch in diameter, that - circumferentially around this joint. And each of those holes is then plugged with this piece of steel, round steel about an inch in diameter and about two inches long. It is plugged in each of these holes and there is a little clip put over each one of those pins from the outside to hold it, a retaining clip.

And they are all completed and then there is a band that is put on the outside of that, and that band is tightened around the segment, and then there is a cork layer put over the outside of that, and then you finally put some coating on the outside of it, some of the white coating. I forget the kind of material.

DR. FEYNMAN: I think it's an epoxy.

MR. MOORE: That's probably what it is. And

 

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then there's a layer of grease put around the outside segments, each of these segments, to form a water repellent seal. And that is hand laid up, to keep any moisture from getting in that seal.

So there is - the O-rings are laid in there and this thing is put together. So when it comes together, those two O-rings kind of are laying around this way.

MR. RUMMEL: How is the putty inspected afterwards for voids?

MR. MOORE: There are closeout photographs made and an inspector goes off and looks at those things.

MR. RUMMEL: This is purely visually or X-ray?

MR. MOORE: Most of it is visually looking at how the putty is laid up. And we do have closeout photos that we saw before we left the Cape of some of the segments.

Now, we don't know whether we've got complete closeout photos. We're supposed to have complete closeout photos of all the segments. But Arnie and I only saw a few of the photographs before we left Kennedy the other day, of some of the segments.

MR. RUMMEL: Has there been any evidence that

 

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that particular sealant, from past launches, was a problem?

MR. MOORE: We haven't observed much as far as the putty was concerned. There was a putty that was used, I think a different kind of putty that was used for the first seven or eight launches, I think, and the manufacturer of that putty went out of business. And I think the supplier put another putty in, the same kind, supposedly the same kind of putty, the zinc chromate putty.

But the characteristics, what is supposed to be the same, we don't really have any evidence of anything from a putty standpoint.

MR. RUMMEL: Excuse me. If I recall correctly, yesterday it was said that this was not the first launch with the new putty.

MR. MOORE: No, it has been since STS-10, which was in '83, I think. And I'm having a hard time remembering. It was several years ago and there have been a lot of flights with this particular putty in it, this kind of putty.

DR. FEYNMAN: Would it be fair to say that when you were discussing it, the blowby by the O-ring, you said we don't expect it on the other O-ring. On the other hand, you didn't expect it on the first O-ring, that

 

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if the second O-ring gives just a little bit when the first one is giving, that that is a very much more serious circumstance, because now the flow has begun. That is, if the second O-ring holds, if there is a little bit of blowby, the pressure builds up and the flow stops, and then it settles back and seals. But if the second one opens just a little bit, there is a flow of very hot burning fuel product.

MR. MOORE: That's very true.

DR. FEYNMAN: And that can eat away the O-rings and so forth, and so the second one is very much more critical if it doesn't hold when the first one isn't holding; is that true?

MR. MOORE: I think that is a true statement. There has been no evidence to my knowledge of erosion of the secondary. There have been some burnishing, some discoloration, and some soot that was deposited between the first one and the second one, was what I think our flight experience had said.

And the testing of these O-rings and so forth, there was a lot of lab tests that were done down at Marshall in the laboratories on these O-rings, and I think some out at Thiokol of the O-rings, and their analysis indicated that as long as you don't, as you say, have a complete gas path through this whole cycle

 

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of O-rings, that you are okay.

I think these O-rings are Viton rubber and I think they are probably the same kind of O-ring that is used in the Titan segment, where you guys have only one O-ring, I think, in Titan, Don, as I recall.

GENERAL KUTYNA: Let me add to your comment, however. That is how we lost the inertial upper stage, was there was leakage and once it got a path, then it burns like an acetylene torch, once it gets that continuous path. If it leaks a little bit, you just get soot. As soon as you get that flow, it just goes right through.

DR. FEYNMAN: I have a picture of that seal in cross-section here, if anybody wants to see it.

 

 

[225] VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Is it determined yet that the two degree nozzle switch would be consistent with - would the direction of the two degree nozzle change be consistent with the moment of correction that would be expected if the kind of thing that Professor Feynman is talking about actually made a nozzle - -

MR. ALDRICH: That is being calculated and it is conceivably reasonable, based upon the first look.

DR. RIDE: Do you have data from the RGA's, the gyros, that would show you this?

MR. MOORE: Yes, what the RGA's were doing and

 

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so forth.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: In addition to that question, have you ever seen nozzle excursions of this magnitude as a result of a breach?

MR. MOORE: My understanding, based upon the question - Arnie, you probably have more detail. My understanding is the upper regime - -

MR. ALDRICH: An excursion like this we would consider highly unusual. We don't predict, from what we considered the winds to be that day and the wind speeds, that there was such a wind event. If the flight had been completely normal and all you had seen was these booster nozzles kick, it would probably not have raised many considerations or concerns that something peculiar happened.

MR. MOORE: They have what, a three degree limit of the motion of the nozzles?

DR. WALKER: I thought I saw eight degrees.

MR. MOORE: I didn't realize it was that much, but we have seen up to a couple of degrees. The question we are addressing is the rate. You've got to look at the rate of how fast this thing is responding, and so forth, and I tried to get all of that correlated and we've just not looked at that.

But the RGA's, as Sally mentioned, and any

 

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other kind of acceleration - one of the people reported to us last week when we were down in Florida - I guess it was the week before last - that there was some noticing of some kind of fishtailing of the system going up. We saw some cargo bay, maybe the cargo bay area, accelerations that were anomalous, and we are running that down.

But I don't have any more data on that.

DR. RIDE: Do you have any data from any accelerometers? Is there anything like that in the payload area?

MR. ALDRICH: I think we've got some data from TDRS.

MR. MOORE: We have that data impounded, and we're going to try to look at that acceleration data to correlate the events. That is the hardest job, is to try to get the time line in sequence that everybody's data will sign up to, because you could be off a few milliseconds and miss events, just like you pointed out very clearly. And that is what we're so concerned about.

GENERAL KUTYNA: Was the IUS guidance on at this time?

MR. MOORE: I think IUS guidance was on, I believe, although I'm not sure. We have a lot of IUS

 

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parameters we monitor.

GENERAL KUTYNA: We initialize on the ground, but I don't know whether the record came back or not.

[226] DR. RIDE: It should. It comes down on the down link.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I feel awfully sorry for this gentleman who's trying to record what we're saying.

(Laughter.)

MR. MOORE: Don, to answer your question, we are looking at all that data. It was impounded out at Sunnyvale. All of that cargo information is very important to us.

MR. ACHESON: Could I ask a question? Have there been any interesting discoveries and material collected from the ocean that we have not seen in the press yet?

MR. MOORE: I would say there are some observations that have been made on some preliminary pieces. We have recovered the orbiter speed brakes, which are on the rear section, and the left speed brake I guess is just like it came out of the factory and the right speed brake has got a lot of particles, it looks like, were embedded in it, and so forth.

But if you look at the flow and everything, it

 

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looks like the wind would have shielded it. So we're not sure what all that means. But it is just kind of a - those are some of the black and white differences that we're beginning to see.

And we're got metallurgists and others going back and looking at those samples to tell us the kinds of materials we see. We have a very - that we did not show to the public yesterday, we have a very elaborate layout that the National Transportation Safety Board has provided and has assisted us in doing.

We have got a facility down at Kennedy that has been laid out to assemble a lot of the pieces. And I guess the Navy brought in, with the assistance of the Air Force, a tremendous tent or a portable building that they are putting up, of some 250 feet long by about 75 or 80 feet wide. And we're going to use that as kind of a layout area.

And we would invite members of the Commission - -

MR. HOTZ: Is this the jigsaw grid?

MR. MOORE: Yes.

MR. ALDRICH: We're actually building a frame for the orbiter to be constructed on. There's a very interesting characteristic on the orbiter. Every tile on the orbiter has a serial number, so when they find a

 

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piece of the orbiter it is not one of these, let's just see where it goes. We can look in the tile records and they know exactly where it goes.

MR. WALKER: Each tile is different, basically?

MR. MOORE: Yes, sir.

MR. RUMMEL: I have a somewhat different question. According to what I read in the press and partly from what I heard today, there was generally a lack of heat evidence. If that's true, I just don't understand. Can you explain that?

MR. MOORE: We can't explain that at this point in time.

MR. ALDRICH: One of the places that we think the largest amount of the explosion was focused - I don't say we think, but what Marshall reported in their early analysis showed, the largest part of the explosion occurred where the oxygen comes out of the oxygen tank in the inner tank area.

They found pieces of the inner tank, which is the cavity between the two tanks and the external tank. Some parts of it are melted and burned dramatically and very blackened, and other parts are as pristine as new metal.

MR. RUMMEL: From the same canopy?

 

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MR. ALDRICH: Yes.

DR. WHEELON: I have a request. The time lines that Sally has there, I wonder if we could get copies of that.

DR. RIDE: Actually, I am not sure that this should be considered an official time line.

MR. MOORE: We can take an action to provide it. I mean, Sally has it and she can distribute it.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: My only question about that is whether we should have this until we're a little more sure of it.

DR. RIDE: I guess I would feel better about having somebody, one of the working groups down there, not put out an official one, but just because there really is the problem of time correlating all of the data, and this has their first guesses at the time correlation down to milliseconds. But those things could change a little bit and a couple of things could get added.

MR. MOORE: I would say that we could pull together a preliminary events sequence by very early next week and provide it to the Commission, if that would be acceptable.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I guess maybe I'm sort of conscious of possible leaks. Not that I think anybody

 

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would leak it, but if it hits the press and we have it, then everybody's going to say, well, somebody in the Commission must have leaked it.

And I'm not sure that at the moment having any of these documents is particularly valuable to us. We've got them all anyway in due time, and certainly, if you're going to correct it later on - I mean, there's no reason why we can't all look at them now, and Sally could make it available to look at it.

But I just think that the fewer documents we have in our own possession until we get ready to do something with it, the better off we are.

Dick?

DR. FEYNMAN: I think we've just learned from the General's report that the proper way to do it is not to go flying at various possibilities when the data is only preliminary. You think you're going to gain something by that.

That is what I learned. I thought I was gaining something. That is what I thought I was going to do. But when I saw what he suggested, I see that the proper way, I think, is to wait until that. Do it as fast as we can, we might come down and look and suggest something that you could calculate on the time, or a suggestion of something else or something like that, but

 

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not to try to make the decisions and analyses as we're going along.

We have the same thing in physics experiments. The theorists sit on top of the experiment and as the data starts to come out, when it still has errors in it that haven't been checked out, they are already making theories to explain bumps in the curve which turn out to be nothing, and it's just a complete waste of effort and confusion and everything else.

DR. RIDE: I'm a little bit sensitive to this because I have good sources and over the last week I've heard a lot of things from excellent sources that are wrong, like for example the balloon, the balloon being shot down, and that's not right.

MR. MOORE: Let me say also, Sally, that we made a very special effort to involve as many members of the astronaut corps down at Houston as we can. But your point about data and the [228] sources, we've heard all kinds of things, too, that sounded very promising a week ago, and now they totally don't have any relevance.

DR. RIDE: I'm very sensitive to the right approaches: Collect the data, look at all the data, and then once you've looked at it all, come to your conclusions.

MR. MOORE: And have this devil's advocate

 

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team set off and make sure we haven't forgotten something over here, a bunch of wild and crazy ideas.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I think you're right. I think we are entitled to that. Let's not think that because we would - let's not take it because we would dry up Sally's sources.

(Laughter. )

DR. WHEELON: But we will have an official time line?

MR. MOORE: Sure.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Unless there are any other immediate questions, I have a couple of questions on procedure. Any other questions?

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: I guess, was that that - did they complete their list of things that we ought to hear about and we haven't heard about?

MR. ALDRICH: There's at least one other thing that shows on the telemetry. The telemetry shows, from the gyros that Sally was talking about - there are gyros in each solid, and it shows that in the last second before the loss of data the right solid rocket deviates from the stack, and the left one and the orbiter stay together in a conformed trajectory.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: When was that?

MR. ALDRICH: Within the last half second before loss of data.

 

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MR. RUMMEL: Would you repeat that?

MR. ALDRICH: The data on the telemetry has gyroscopic measurements from the orbiter and from each solid rocket, and in the last second of data before loss of data and the explosion, the right-hand rocket is shown to deviate away from the orbiter and the left-hand rocket, which means that it broke loose.

DR. FEYNMAN: Can I ask a dumb question? Do we know on which side which rocket is afterwards? Did they go like this and cross or do they look like they went that way?

MR. ALDRICH: The photo team will be able to pinpoint that precisely, and you've asked quite a few questions about what we see in the photography and, believe me, there's a lot of photography. On a normal mission, there's over 80 rolls of film and television tapes to go through, and this one even more has been brought in.

And to do it justice, the photo team will be able to spend hours with you showing things that are of interest.

DR. COVERT: Arnie, can I ask, in this rotation of this right-hand solid booster, does it look like it is pinned at the bottom or pinned at the top?

MR. ALDRICH: I did it wrong in my talk. It

 

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looks like the bottom comes free and it toes in at the top.

MR. MOORE: Let me make one more comment in response to Neal's question, and that is we think we have sonar data that has located the right-hand booster. And we're putting a lot of priority on getting that booster, and we think it is in about 12 or 1400 feet of water.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: This is sort of interesting, Dick.

[229] MR. MOORE: I say, I think we have data that pinpoints an area, that has located what we think is the right-hand solid rocket booster. We are spending a lot of effort trying to look at that on television to make sure that that is what we're looking at.

However, we believe it is going to take a fair amount of time to get that hardware back, because we don't want to do anything to that hardware during the retrieval process. That is absolutely fundamental to our investigation.

So Navy salvage is working with us. We've got experts down there kind of directing the whole salvage thing, and it's absolutely critical that we keep that hardware in as good a shape as we can in terms of the retrieval process.

 

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MR. ACHESON: How far offshore is that discovery?

MR. MOORE: It's 40 to 50 miles is the range, and it's about 12 to 1400 feet, is what was reported to us before we left the Cape.

MR. WALKER: Can you tell how many pieces it's in?

MR. MOORE: No, I have not seen any of that.

MR. ALDRICH: I had a report on that last night. It is in the Gulf Stream and the currents are high, and the first submersible they wanted to photograph or video observe it with was too lightweight to be able to operate in that condition, and they're bringing in heavier equipment.

And I was told that perhaps by Sunday or Monday we would have our first views of it.

MR. SUTTER: Do you have access to the submersibles that were used up in the Irish area, in that accident?

MR. MOORE: I don't know if they're the same vehicles. Mark, you probably know.

MR. JONES: We have access to the very same vehicles, and actually we have gone a step further. We also have the same people who were involved in the recovery of the Air India that went down off the coast

 

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of Ireland, as well as KAL-007. So we have the same people and equipment involved.

MR. MOORE: We've had offers from all kinds of people. AT&T doing underwater cabling offered their boats, and everybody has just offered all kinds of services to us.

MR. SUTTER: That job they did in the Irish Sea was tremendous. They got like to 6600 feet in two days. And with the salt water, the quicker you get it up the better.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Have you made an announcement about this?

MR. MOORE: No, sir, I have not announced it to the public.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I guess it's known.

MR. MOORE: No, I will tell you, I have a very strong feeling that I'm very nervous about releasing information to the public, because that immediately focuses the public on an area, and that may turn out to be the wrong area.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: How do you correlate with NASA here in Washington, because they are giving out some information.

MR. MOORE: I have a public affairs person that is on my investigating - on my task force that is

 

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down at Kennedy. And when we're down there, there's a tremendous amount of pressure to release something. And what I have been trying to do is only release kind of status information of my activities, our group's activities, that we are continuing to meet here and we're continuing to meet there.

[230] And I've got Bob Crippen and Bob Overmyer down at the Cape looking at all of the photographic data that comes in, and selectively they're releasing pieces of it. Chuck Hollins, my person, talks to the NASA public affairs person up here, Shirley Green, and supposedly maintains contact that way.

One of the things we need to do is to make sure that we have got a liaison here. That Jonathan and I have talked about, so that you aren't surprised about things that are coming out, and you will have your own announcements.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: The only announcements we will make will be when we decide on meetings, where the meetings are going to be held. And if we have public meetings, we will announce the witnesses. But except for that, we won't make any announcements or comments at all.

I think we have all agreed to that, and if there is any thought of deviation, why, I will talk to

 

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all of the Commission members.

MR. MOORE: Sir, if it's okay with you, I thought I would set up someone with my task force to maintain a constant liaison with Jonathan down here, so the members of this Commission are not surprised by anything that our group deems important to release. We are totally trying to focus on any factual information, and not let the public speculate.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: There was one other thing I noticed in the press about a little accident you had. Tell us a little about that.

MR. MOORE: That was a handling of one of the segment accidents. It was called an SRM incident report, and it was down at the Cape. And it was, Lockheed handles the unloading of segments off of rail cars into the proper facilities to begin the stacking, and they've got either two or four places that they pick all of these things up.

And there were load cells on the device that picked it up, and I guess there were a couple of failures of a load cell, and the segment came down and impacted too hard on the ground, and that segment was discarded from use.

It was scheduled, back when it occurred, for this particular stack. I think it was pulled out of the

 

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whole flow.

MR. JONES: This particular segment has a large handling ring on the top of it, and it was part of the processing procedures and we had to get this handling ring off of the top of it. And I say "we"; as Jess pointed out, it was Lockheed.

This particular device is held in by the very same pins that we referred to earlier, like the flight pins, and the handling ring that is on top of it weighs on the order of 11,000 pounds. So it is not something that you can come up and gently pull the pin out and lift it up.

And so, with the handling special device to pull the pins out, some of them were just simply wedged in by the brute force of this 11,000 pound device. The technician in charge invented a procedure which was a deviation from our published procedure, in that he attached the crane to the handling ring, asked for 11,000 pounds up, effectively zeroing it out, so he could pull the pins out.

He didn't clear the area around it. He got this lift up and they continued to pull pins. And that should have been, people should have backed away from it. At that particular time, the load cell indicator on the crane failed.

 

 

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[231] The crane operator did not look over to take a look and see what kind of current he was using at that point, and we suspect that he probably put perhaps even 100,000 pounds up-lift on it. Then at that point it created some damage.

There was a loud bang, a noise, and it immediately shut down, and of course the investigation ensued and revealed all of these things I've just shared with you. A decision has not been made whether that segment was then flightworthy or not. One discussion said, no, when exposed to that kind of environment it probably ought to be discarded. Another one said, we think we can X-ray it, examine it, shim it out properly, and fly it.

But whatever the case was, we couldn't do it for this particular flight, 51-L. That segment was pulled out and set aside and its corresponding segment on the other side, because you have to have matched pairs for burning rates from the same amount of propellant.

So in fact, two new segments were put into this particular stack and flown as a result of that handling incident in I believe November.

MR. MOORE: It was in November. And the center director at Kennedy signed and approved the

 

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report on the 13th of December. That is when it was approved, and it was worked in concert with the headquarters safety office and the guidelines that come out of the headquarters and the headquarters office, not just bureaucratically signed off the paperwork on it.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, as you know - -

MR. HOTZ: The incident was reported publicly?

MR. MOORE: Yes.

MR. HOTZ: It was made public at the time?

MR. MOORE: It was made public.

MR. MOORE: But you know, Lockheed is heavily involved in all the processing. They are our shuttle contractor, and we have criticized them for some of their operations. Their operations have improved some overall, but we have criticized them from time to time.

MR. SUTTER: It makes me a little nervous to

 

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hear that this was a procedure outside of the operating handbook, and if this incident hadn't have happened, it might have continued. I'm not criticizing. All I'm saying is - -

MR. MOORE: I understand what you're saying. Let me say as far as that is concerned, we've got some people from Dryden Research Center, our flight research center out in California, that I asked several months ago to go down and spend some time at Kennedy and look at the overall process and flow down there and to take a look at it.

And I haven't had a report back from them, but we have had that concern for some time.

DR. WHEELON: I would ask, Mark, you've just described an incident having to do with the handling or the mishandling of the solid rocket segment. Is that unique or does that sort of thing happen regularly or now and again or often? And if so, what are the other incidents that have happened?

MR. JONES: We maintain an informal log, if you will, of any kind of incident, for whatever reason, whether something broke, whether a platform fell down, those kinds of things. Given that there are 16,000 people employed there, I would suggest that there are some number of incidents related to flight hardware.

 

 

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They are very minimal.

That is why we chose to do a very thorough investigation in this particular procedure, and that is why we were critical of the management from the immediate technician, who was the lead tech on the floor, through the higher levels of management that perhaps had not reviewed that procedure.

I cannot compare our incident rate with any other industry. I know that we have a certain rate of incidents, which I would figure out over a per hours worked, but I can't compare it to say it is more frequent or less frequent than an assembly plant.

DR. WHEELON: Excuse me. That wasn't the question. The question was, was this event that you described, was that unique? Have things like that happened before? And if so, do they happen every ten flights or every one flight, just in your place?

MR. JONES: This incident was unique in itself. This is the first time we have seen that kind of an incident in handling an SRB segment.

DR. WHEELON: Have you seen other incidents in handling SRB's? And I ask you because you're the director for RQ&A.

MR. JONES: I'm not aware of any other incident, and I can research the record, but I'm not

 

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aware of any other incident in which we have damaged flight hardware to the point where it wasn't usable. This was the only incident of that type.

DR. WHEELON: Would you review the records and give us an answer to that question?

MR. MOORE: Yes, sir.

MR. JONES: Yes, sir.

MR. MOORE: We track incident rates down at KSC and I know overall incident rates on flight hardware, as well as other kind of activities, and we have got that data and we will be happy to provide it to you.

DR. RIDE: Do you have any idea, just a feeling of whether the incident rates have gone up since Lockheed took over or whether they stayed about the same?

MR. MOORE: Sally, my general feeling on that is they went up initially and stayed up for some period of time, and they have been coming down pretty well over the past year. As a matter of fact, Dick Smith was telling that they have been giving a few special certificates to some people in certain areas of Lockheed for safety consciousness and improvements and so forth. And so I believe the incident rate is coming down, is what I have been told. And we have had that data

 

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tracked and we can provide that data to you.

Now, one of the other things that we have had a long-term concern about is safety at Thiokol, and we have had a couple of safety incidents out at Thiokol, where we've had pit fires and so forth.

DR. HOTZ: This is in Utah?

MR. MOORE: This is in Utah where the units are poured. And we have had some major concerns about that. We have had several boards look at that and that is one of the reasons that NASA initiated about a year ago a look at second sources for the solid rocket launcher - solid rocket boosters.

MR. WALKER: When they're poured, are they then shaped?

DR. WHEELON: Most solid rocket motors are poured and then machined.

[233] MR. MOORE: That is the way these are done.

MR. COVERT: I wanted to follow up on something Bud said, and that is, every so often problems arise where some guy gets a good idea in the middle of a process and, with all the best intentions, implements it without adequate clearance.

And how often has this occurred down there?

MR. JONES: I think that, first of all, I can't give you a specific answer.

 

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MR. COVERT: Is it a recurring problem?

MR. JONES: It's not that much of a problem, because the intent - we have tried over the years to instill into what we call the test scheme the discipline to follow that procedure.

And all of the procedures, especially the hazardous procedures, are routinely reviewed periodically. In fact, the procedure this man invented was probably a pretty good procedure, except what he did was he didn't document it. It wasn't reviewed and he didn't use things, like giving a 64th of an inch up, which capability we have. Instead he said, give me 11,000 pounds and a measuring device.

So I think the procedure in and of itself was probably a good one, but very few instances of deviations from published procedure.

MR. COVERT: That is a partial answer. People are going to get good ideas. The kinds of people you want working for you are going to get good ideas, and they're going to want to see them implemented.

But there should be a discipline around to make sure that the procedures are reviewed by other people who are knowledgeable, and so they can say to them, don't use a load cell because we know they drift, that you ought to give dimensions, and so forth.

 

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So I guess, with a bright, inventive group like you have, there must be from time to time unauthorized improvements put into the processes, and then they either work well or they don't work well. And my question is, does that happen a half a dozen times a year or three times?

I have only heard of it twice since I have been down there; that is the kind of response I'm looking for.

 

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MR. JONES: I'm not sure how I could answer that. I simply can't give you a definitive answer.

MR. MOORE: I understand what you're driving at. Let me mention one other thing, Gene, that about a year and a half ago or a year or so ago the top management at Lockheed down there was replaced, and it was because of our criticism of the way they were paying a lot of attention to the overall management of this job, and I think during that period of time there were some of the kind of things you're talking about. I don't have the specific numbers.

Lockheed then brought in some aircraft experienced people who were experienced in running this overall thing, and I personally believe that has been tightened up pretty good. But again, I can't give you a precise set of numbers. We certainly have the statistics on that. We go through a very comprehensive award fee process with each of the contractors down at the Cape, as many of the other things, and we can go in and give you a much better quantitative feel than I can give you off the top of my head.

DR. COVERT: Well, it may not be relevant to this particular investigation that we are talking about, but I have seen other cases where, in fact, a good idea turned out to be the source of a problem.

 

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MR. MOORE: One point that ought to be kept in mind here is a majority of the people that Marv talked about are the same people that have been down there for a long time. When Rockwell did not win the Shuttle processing contract. Eighty-five percent, approximately, of those same people stayed on and simply worked for the new company. There were critical areas and certain areas you had a big void. In others you had a peak, and there was a general management concern down there for some period of time, and a lot of techs and so forth were there to do the procedures.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Jess, if I could ask a question about termination, whether you terminated and so forth? It seems to me very difficult if you find Lockheed, for example, has been deficient and you are disappointed with the performance, to terminate because they are right in the middle of something. Do you have any alternative? Are there any severe penalties you can impose?

MR. MOORE: It depends upon the specific contract, but in the case of Lockheed, they are under an incentive fee contract, and they are supposed to process so many missions, and process them and make sure that - if they have a problem with their processes, they are penalized. There is not only a dollar penalty, but

 

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there are also written-up penalties that go to the corporation, and each contract that we have has various segments to it.

I think the Lockheed contract is basically a three year contract with three three-year extensions to it, and so you can terminate at the end of that particular three years.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But in the meantime you can fine them or impose a heavy penalty?

MR. MOORE: You can impose a heavy penalty, and also you can get the corporate management involved in this thing, and that is where the action came about in terms of replacing the managers that originally took over.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Have you imposed any penalties?

MR. MOORE: Yes, sir, there are award fees, and they've lost a lot of fees over the past few years.

DR. WHEELON: You can withhold the awarding of grants. All of their costs are covered, so they are not forfeiting costs. They are just not earning profits. But there are opportunity costs lost.

MR. MOORE: That is true.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: That is money they don't get, in other words?

 

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DR. WHEELON: In other words, they might have done a little better under the award fees. CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Maybe we ought to think of some more severe penalty. You know probably as well as I do, and probably better, that there is dissatisfaction about performance, and particularly in Congress. I mean, they have spoken to me about the fact that they feel that the performance has been sloppy, the contractors have been taking it easy and so forth, and even if we don't relate it, relate that poor performance to this accident we are talking about this morning, there's no reason why we can't comment on it, there's no reason we can't comment on the very severe terms, and propose a penalty or some other provision that you can use so that if there is a deficiency of that kind, even if management couldn't have detected it - -

MR. SUTTER: I would like to make a comment.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Is that too tough?

[235] MR. SUTTER: No. I think that as soon as you take that up, then we should ask the question why, and the answer may not be sloppy work, per se. It may be pressure. For instance, this pad did not have a rain cover, an item that was scheduled, and these people, they work for one company once, and then they work for another company and change management; it's the same

 

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workers with experience but different managers, and he is under pressure.

And I think that is one of the things that we should ask, is the schedule realistic, especially now.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What was the reason for the lack of rain cover?

MR. ALDRICH: Can I give you a bit of a lengthy answer?

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Sure.

MR. MOORE: Why don't you give some background on the whole waterproofing situation?

MR. ALDRICH: The orbiters come from the factory with brand new tiles and they are waterproofed internally. That is, they can stay up indefinitely. When you fly the orbiter, it enters under a high heat environment, and that heat causes the waterproofing to be driven out of the tile, so you have to rework it before the next flight.

The arrangement was to internally replace the waterproofing in each tile in Florida between flights, and it was a system developed with squirt guns where we actually penetrate each tile and squirt a certain amount in. And on Challenger, several years ago now, after about its eighth flight, after about its fifth flight, I believe, of Challenger, we noticed a condition where the

 

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rubber that was holding the tiles to the vehicle, the rubber cement, was softening, and in effect, a tile came off during re-entry, which led to the investigation. We found large amounts of softening rubber, and the investigation showed a reaction between the constituency of the rubber and the rewaterproofing material.

Since that time we have not used the rewaterproofing technique again, and we have run the threat of the orbiter picking up some amount of water. We have been investigating. We have had an extensive analytical program to find a new material that will work as well. That is still under work.

In the interim, we have been spraying the vehicle with Scotchguard, which is a deterrent but doesn't completely preclude water pickup, particularly in heavy rain, and we have added additional rain protection to the launch pads. We put up some metallic protection on Pad A, the old pad, and also some canvas type material that protects it from the driving rain, and it has been very effective.

During this period of time, however, Pad B has been coming along to be the second launch pad, and a more elaborate all-metal waterproofing system was conceived and was being implemented on Pad B. Sometime this past fall some of the materials for that were

 

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delivered, and they were defective, the metal was not up to the standard expected of the metal, and so it had to be scrapped and returned and wait for additional metal to arrive.

So in that period leading up to the first use of the pad, we had to make the choice of going to the pad without the complete mechanization of the waterproofing intended for Pad B, and Pad A would be retrofitted to the same all-metallic consideration later.

The original schedule was that in January of this year for this launch, all the rain protection on Pad B would be finished, along with the other facilities on Pad B, and materials problems [236] caused this issue which we believed we could well work around, and I think we did work around it successfully as far as the orbiter, which is the concern for the rain protection. We don't have rain protection for the solid rocket boosters. It has never been considered that that would be required.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, yesterday didn't I hear testimony to the effect that rain also had an effect, you were concerned about it on the outside of the boosters and the launch pad itself?

MR. ALDRICH: Two questions with separate answers.

 

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The concern on the outside of the external tank comes from either rain - in fact, rain ie good. What is really bad is humidity in the air because the tank is so cold, ice will form on the tank, and that is a concern only because when you launch, the ice will fall off and strike the orbiter. So again, we have different loading conditions and conditions leading to launch that preclude moisture from forming ice on the tank.

DR. RIDE: The tank is only cold after you put the cold propellant in it.

MR. MOORE: That is exactly right, about seven or eight hours before launch, when you fuel the tank, then you get it extremely cold, and if there is a lot of humidity, you will get ice on the tank, as Sally was saying. We are concerned about ice then breaking up.

MR. ALDRICH: But it is only of concern again for the orbiter.

MR. HOTZ: You did get some damage in early flights from the ice breaking up?

MR. MOORE: We did see on some flights some tiles that were damaged and so forth on the orbiter.

MR. HOTZ: They were pretty big chunks that were coming off.

MR. MOORE: Yes, and that is why we send an

 

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ice team out to take a look and see how bad. There is a spec in the program about what kind of ice is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

MR. ALDRICH: There have been modifications to the insulation on the external tank to correct the areas where we had large pieces of ice. And we have seen a very significant reduction in damage to the orbiter from the ice during flights.

MR. HOTZ: You only got it on the early flights?

MR. ALDRICH: Yes, sir.

Now, the facility, we were concerned for ice there largely, not so much from the rain but from the facility systems themselves, broken lines, fluid comes out on the facility, freezes, creates ice that can interfere with the operations of the equipment at the launch facility. There's not a concern about safety of the flight hardware but for the ability of the facility to continue to do its job successfully during that time period.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I mentioned yesterday, I think, and maybe before the report I saw in the paper, about Rockwell, and I found it in Time Magazine, and you made a comment about it. The report said that a Rockwell official said that he had called 20 minutes before the launch to advise against the launch because

 

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of ice, and I wondered, did Rockwell change their mind? Were they in that conference?

MR. ALDRICH: Let me tell you about the conference. In the conference that I held outside the firing room - I was in the firing room with Jess, and I went outside to hold this conference.

[237] The concern was for the orbiter. The concern was for ice that we knew was in the vicinity of the facility, on the facility, at different locations, falling at ignition and hitting the orbiter.

In the conference I had, the orbiter project manager from Johnson Space Center, the chief of engineering from Johnson Space Center on the telephone, live, myself, the Shuttle Program had worked these issues previously in the meeting personally, the head of the orbiter project for the Rockwell contractor in Downey, on the line to him, the chief engineer for the orbiter project at Downey, and we had a discussion where all parties participated.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And this call was reported to that group, and you all considered it, and decided to go ahead?

MR. ALDRICH: I think this call was that discussion.

MR. MOORE: There is no recollection of any

 

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other manager from Rockwell calling outside of this group. I certainly didn't get any phone calls. Nobody that I talked to knew about that.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, I press that a little bit because as long as there is not a dispute about the facts, then it doesn't seem to me that anybody can fault anybody. After all, we are going to have a lot of different points of view on something like this, and somebody has to make the decision.

DR. RIDE: Well, I guess the question is whether at the end of this meeting Rockwell was saying we don't want to launch.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: That is exactly it. If Rockwell comes up in a public session and says we advised them not to do it and they went ahead anyway, and were concerned about the weather, and so forth, then you've got a problem.

On the other hand, if there is no dispute about the facts, that this was conveyed to everybody, and everybody, after consideration, everybody agreed to it - -

DR. WHEELON: What position did Rockwell take?

MR. ALDRICH: Everyone in that meeting - and I just told you who was there. There were many others,

 

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Kennedy facility people at that meeting, everyone in that meeting voted strongly to proceed and said they had no concern, except for Rockwell. The comment to me from Rockwell, which was not written specifically to the exact word, and either recorded or logged, was that they had some concern about the possibility of ice damage to the orbiter. Although it was a minor concern, they felt that we had no experience base launching in this exact configuration before, and therefore they thought we had some additional risk of orbiter damage from ice than we had on previous meetings, or from previous missions.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Did they sign off on it or not?

MR. ALDRICH: We don't have a sign-off at that point. It was not - it was not maybe 20 minutes, but it was close to that. It was within the last hour of launch.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But they still objected?

MR. ALDRICH: They issued what I would call a concern, a less than 100 percent concurrence in the launch. They did not say we do not want to launch, and the rest of the team overruled them. They issued a more conservative concern. They did not say don't launch.

GENERAL KUTYNA: I can't recall a launch that I have had where there was 100 percent certainty that

 

 

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everything was perfect, and everyone around the table would agree to that. It is the job of the launch director to listen to everyone, and it's our job around the table to listen and say there is this element of risk, and you characterize this as 90 percent, or 95, and then you get a consensus that that risk is an acceptable risk, and then you launch.

So I think this gentleman is characterizing the degree of risk, and he's honest, and he had to say something.

DR. RIDE: But one point is that their concern is a specific concern, and they weren't concerned about the overall temperature or damage to the solid rockets or damage to the external tank. They were worried about pieces of ice coming off and denting the tile.

MR. MOORE: I think that is an important

 

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point.

MR. HOTZ: This is completely different from Thiokol's alleged concerns.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: The concerns that were expressed there are not obviously related to the accident at this point although they may be.

MR. ALDRICH: I think that is not true, Neil. The concern was for falling ice to damage, and therefore remove a tile from the orbiter. The tiles play no role in the ascent of the Shuttle system, and if I had made the wrong decision in proceeding for the launch, we would not have known any issue from that until the orbiter came to the re-entry phase and we saw it, and we saw a hole burned in it.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I guess what we want to be sure about, though, if we can, is whether there was a telephone call, and who got it. In other words, if you have an official of Rockwell saying we called and told them not to do it; however, they say - and you say, well, we never got such a phone call, then you've got a discrepancy. If you got the phone call and you considered it, and you decided to make the decision based upon the reasons you have just described, then I don't see any problem with that.

MR. ALDRICH: My only question was I think the

 

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phone call went the other way. I think my Rockwell project manager was in the room and called the chief engineer at Downey and asked for their position, and he reported that position to me which was his, and, as I stated, we made the decision to go.

I don't think there was any input from Rockwell.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: The Time story said, and I don't have much confidence in their accuracy, but this one sounded accurate, said that a Rockwell official had been watching the launch preparation and noticed on the television how much ice there was and made a call 20 minutes before the launch saying he didn't think they should do it, and then they quoted Jess as saying we fully considered that matter at length and decided to go ahead.

MR. MOORE: I don't know why the 20 minutes, where the 20 minutes comes in. I don't think any of us were involved in any conversations, because you came down from your meeting. Your meeting was at 8:00 o'clock in the morning. You came down about 9:00 and sat in the firing room, and Phil Culbertson was there, and Dick Kohrs, and you guys came down and said we have considered the launch, considered the ice, and we believe it is an acceptable risk based upon the ice

 

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concern for the orbiter. It is principally a descent problem, and we do believe we ought to send out one final ice team out at about 20 minutes before launch, and that is exactly what was done. An ice team went out and walked on the mobile launch platform and reported back into the loop, to Arnie and so forth, and came back and said they don't see anything out there that is anomalous.

And so that is the way it happened. I don't know where the 20 minute call came in.

 

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CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I just wanted to clear up the phone call and let's get our facts straight as we can before there's any further discussion about it. I don't want to press any more on this. It is just the kind of thing I know that gets a lot of attention in the press when you have this kind of thing, that they focus on a few little things, and this would be one, if there's a disagreement as to facts.

If I said I made a call and I told them and they said we never got any such call, then you have to go get the record of the phone call. And so I just wanted to straighten that up.

Unless there's something else, I would like to ask some questions about our plans. I think the consensus is among the Commission members that we at some point would like to visit the facilities, all of them, I guess. And the question comes up, when would we be the least nuisance.

MR. MOORE: Don't call yourself a nuisance.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, I think we are when we go to those places. There's going to be a lot of concern about what we're going to ask and so forth.

First, I want to tell you, as far as I'm concerned we will try to do it in a way that is not disruptive. But secondly, if you could tell us when it

 

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might be best to do it.

I was thinking certainly not next week, but maybe the week after that.

MR. MOORE: That is what - you kind of suggest, we, Arnie and I and a whole group are going back to Kennedy Monday morning, and we're going to spend Monday afternoon and probably Monday evening getting not only the reports from the groups of activities, but also putting in a more permanent organizational structure and trying to look at these teams and see if we have got some things that have been left out and if we want to consolidate some teams and so forth.

Tuesday we will have detailed reports, status reports, back from the people we have had working. So we will spend Tuesday in a data gathering mode.

Wednesday we will probaly come back to the Washington area and Arnie will probably go back to Houston. And I would say the first part of the following week would look like a good time that we could set up, I think, out at the Cape, an excellent meeting for you.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: That would be a week from next Tuesday?

MR. MOORE: That would be a good time frame to do that.

 

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CHAIRMAN ROGERS: How does that sound to the members of the Commission? We don't all have to be there.

MR. HOTZ: What is the date?

MR. MOORE: That would be the 18th, February 18. You could see the wreckage, the layout, the photography that's being pulled together there, and the analysis that we have done.

[240] DR. RIDE: Is that something that we could do in a closed meeting, in a closed way?

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: That's going to be tough if they find out we're going.

DR. RIDE: That is not what I was wondering about.

MR. HOTZ: Well, they will find out we're going there. There's no way you can keep that out. But you could certainly keep it a closed meeting, and maybe the chairman or somebody could make a statement after the meeting that, we have inspected this, and so on.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Let's assume we could do it in a closed way. Let's first just decide on the time.

GENERAL KUTYNA: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Fuqua's staff members came up to me and said they wanted a report from Jess and our side on what the alternatives were, and I thought that was the 18th.

MR. THOMPSON: Mr. Chairman, there is - and I

 

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just throw this out for your consideration. The Senate Committee on Space will be holding hearings that day on this issue.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What about the end of next week, like Thursday?

MR. MOORE: As far as I know, that would be okay. I think some time next week, next Thursday, would be well. We could support you next Thursday.

DR. WHEELON: Isn't there a certain charm to that? After all, the press would be focused on the Senate, who seeks press coverage, in contrast to us.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: No. There are some of them that would follow us. They are assigned to us and they would go with us anywhere.

MR. SUTTER: Well, how about the 19th or 20th? I don't think these guys will have a lot more to tell us in four or five days.

 

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MR. MOORE: We will show you the status of our analyses and the status of our photographs of the investigation.

DR. RIDE: I would say I think there is probably at least a full day of things for us to see, and just seeing the debris and seeing the photos - -

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: How about Thursday?

MR. COVERT: I would prefer the 13th or 14th. That's next week.

MR. ACHESON: Could I ask a question? What should our timing be in relation to the recovery of the booster?

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I think we're going to have to take a trip down there anyway. I think this is a good time to do it, if it is a convenient time. I mean, we can't wait for the recovery.

MR. MOORE: We will status you where we are in all of the areas and any prognosis that we might have. But my guess is it's going to be a long time before we have got all the procedures in place to make sure that we can handle that hardware without doing it additional damage.

DR. WHEELON: The 14th is better for me, and I probably can provide transportation from the West Coast.

 

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MR. HOTZ: What kind of a trip are you talking about, down in the morning, back at night? CHAIRMAN ROGERS: That's what I'm wondering about. MR. WALKER: I think we're going to need at least a day down there and maybe two.

[241] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Why don't we do it Thursday, and if you can't make it then, Bud, you come down Friday.

How about the others? Is that okay with you?

MR. HOTZ: What was that again?

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Thursday.

MR. HOTZ: That would be Thursday and Friday of next week?

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Yes.

MR. MOORE: I would say we've got enough data to keep you very, very busy for as long as you want to stay down there. I mean, every one of our meetings that we've held down there has gone seven or eight hours, and we have had to hurry them through.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Gene, is that okay with you?

MR. COVERT: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Dick, in your absence we arranged a meeting for all of next week. Is that okay?

 

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[Laughter.]

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: We're planning to go to Kennedy on Thursday and possibly Friday of next week, okay?

DR. FEYNMAN: Yes.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Bob?

MR. RUMMEL: I think so.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And Arthur?

MR. WALKER: It's as bad as any other time.

[Laughter.]

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So let's plan on that. We will go down Thursday.

MR. MOORE: We will be ready to talk to you next Thursday, then.

MR. RUMMEL: A housekeeping question. Will someone arrange hotel accommodations?

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Yes, that is our hope. You will make the arrangements, Jonathan?

MR. THOMPSON: I will take care of it.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What about transportation? Do you want to provide an airplane?

MR. THOMPSON: I will have to look into that.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, we will decide how many people are going from here and then decide how to get there.

 

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MR. THOMPSON: One other thing. I think, to avoid confusion with Jess' people and between you, if you have got a request for information from anybody that testified yesterday or that you think of something over the weekend, between now and next week, I think what might be easiest, if you could give me a call or detail exactly what it is you want.

And I will provide that information to Jess and his people, and in turn I can submit it back to you.

GENERAL KUTYNA: Mr. Chairman, thank you.

Jess, at that meeting would you have an overview of where you are in the planning for your investigation that would be better than we have today, so we can see the major milestones and possibly plan future actions?

MR. MOORE: Yes, you will see a more definitized charter of the things I'm looking into and an organizational structure of how we're going to operate, and probably some forecasts of milestones and some consolidation of the teams that we have formed to make sure that we are cross [242] cutting all of the areas that we need to and that we are consolidating teams, that now we have maybe several teams working on various things. And so I will have, I think, a significant

 

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amount of progress from where we are now with respect to organization. As far as long term prognosis about what is it going to take to get this fixed, it is totally too early.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: May I suggest that we break up for the moment and reconvene at ten after 2:00. What about food? Is there any place to eat here?

Why don't we do that. We will try to finish - let's try to meet here at 2:00 o'clock, so we can get out by 3:00.

(Whereupon, at 1:20 p.m., the Commission was recessed.)


February 6, 1986 SESSION (part 2) | Volume 4 Index | February 10, 1986 SESSION