Report of the PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident


Volume 5 Index


Hearings of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident: February 26, 1986 to May 2, 1986.


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

[967] 1737




Dean Acheson Auditorium
State Department
Washington, D.C.
The Commission met, pursuant to recess, at 9:35 a.m.


WILLIAM P. ROGERS, Chairman, Presiding
NEIL A. ARMSTRONG, Vice Chairman


AL KEEL, Commission Executive Director






CHAIRMAN ROGERS: The Commission will come to order, please.

DR. KEEL: Mr. Stevenson, Mr. Davis, and Colonel Kolczynski.




CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Good morning.

The Commission would like to receive any information that you have after the session is over. I know you provided some information for us, and we would like to, as we go along, get any information that you have from any of your documents for our records.

Mr. Hotz and General Kutyna have some questions they would like to ask you, and we will probably not keep you too long today.

Bob, do you want to go ahead.

MR. HOTZ: Charlie, you mentioned yesterday that when you were going around the pad with your pyrometer, none of the readings you received on the pyrometer exceeded the red lines and therefore you didn't report them.

Could you explain what those red lines are and what the limits of the red line is.




MR. STEVENSON: Okay. My reply was intended to mean that we operate by certain requirements, OMRSD requirements, and certain Launch Commit Criteria requirements. And those measurements we had-let's say the vehicle was operating within those limits. As far as the particular measurements of the SRB which you were mentioning, we have no requirements as to the temperature of the SRB in the area that you were questioning, the 19 degrees.

MR. HOTZ: So you have no red lines as far as the SRB's are concerned?


MR. HOTZ: And what are the red lines concerned with the external tank or the orbiter or what?

MR. STEVENSON: The red lines as far as the ice frost goes refers to the tank itself, to the external tank, and this is mainly in terms of temperatures relating-our duties are mainly in terms of temperatures relating to the external tank. The orbiter temperatures, again, as has been stated, 31 degrees to 99 degrees.

MR. HOTZ: But that is the same as the general launch criteria?

MR. STEVENSON: Yes, sir.




MR. HOTZ: So you didn't report these temperatures on the SRB because there is no place in the launch criteria that requires any?

MR. STEVENSON: That is correct.

MR. HOTZ: Have you ever had antifreeze freeze on the pad before this launch?

MR. STEVENSON: As far as the facility goes?

[969] MR. HOTZ: Yes.

MR. STEVENSON: STS-20 was a similar case the night before we launched, but it was not the same conditions at launch time.

MR. HOTZ: Was that the one where the facility became encased with ice?

MR. STEVENSON: Yes, sir.

MR. HOTZ: You didn't actually launch after that one?

MR. STEVENSON: No, we did not.

MR. HOTZ: Is this the worst pad ice that you have ever encountered in your excursions out there where an actual launch took place?

MR. STEVENSON: As far as the facility goes, that is correct. As far as the launch vehicle goes, that is not correct. We have had more ice on the vehicle at a launch time than we had this time. For this particular launch, the vehicle was performing well,




and it was mostly frost.

MR. HOTZ: Now, you mentioned earlier that you, as you move around the pad, you are in constant communication with the launch control room, because they need to know where you are and what you're doing. And so, in addition to your conference reports when you come back, you are also giving real time chatter to them while you are out on the pad, is that correct?

MR. STEVENSON: We are in communication with two different groups. We're in communication with the launch, the NTD or the LTD.

MR. HOTZ: Could you spell that out for us, please.

MR. STEVENSON: Okay. We are in communications with the launch test director on the 101S net, and our responsibility is mainly to tell him where we are, where we're going, and what we're doing. He occasionally asks what conditions we are finding.

We are also in communications with the

MR. HOTZ: In this particular case, were you reporting findings back to him?

MR. STEVENSON: Not specifically, no, sir.

MR. HOTZ: You waited until you came in for your conference?

MR. STEVENSON: Yes, sir.




There was a case where we also were reporting back through the management loop on channel 245, and we also normally carry on communications with our people back in firing room 2, who are doing the monitoring for our ice frost. We report various conditions that we say which may be different than what is being observed on the TV system, so that we can have a better understanding of the conditions.

MR. HOTZ: Thanks very much.

I have a couple of questions for Colonel Kolczynski on the weather forecast. Could you give us in brief terms when and where you made you pre-launch forecast when you predicted the hard freeze for the night of January 27th-28th?

COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: We gave several briefings throughout the time period. We gave some briefings on Saturday which in the afternoon

MR. HOTZ: Could you use the dates.

COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: Yes. On the 25th at 1100 local, we had a Mission Management Team briefing which we attended and presented our data, which indicated a strong cold frontal system coming down with Arctic air, strong Arctic air behind it. And we anticipated at launch time having layered clouds, approximately broken at 3,000 feet, layered up through about 24,000 feet.


[970] 1743


Based on that, we came back in the evening on the telephone conference on the 25th at 2100 local. The system still was moving very rapidly toward the Florida peninsula, and it was still our estimate that we would have the clouds in there and potentially some rain showers or even some thunder showers to the West.

Based on that, the mission was scrubbed. We subsequently came back on the 26th at 1400 local. That was an in-person briefing to the Mission Management Team again. At that time, we talked about the cold frontal system passing through, strong winds for the Monday morning launch time period, potential crosswinds.

As an outlook which we give-we always give an outlook for the day after. We indicated that once the cold high had set in in the Florida area, that we did anticipate having some colder temperatures. At that time, we were forecasting the mid-20's to the upper 20's.

As you well know, we scrubbed for strong crosswinds again on the Monday morning. That is the 26th-I'm sorry, the 27th. So we came back, on the telephone this time, the 27th at 1400 local, and we presented again a forecast of clear conditions, basically, good winds, no precipitable kind of weather.

But we did indicate that we would have a




little colder temperature than we had predicted before. In front of you you can see-at least you could for a while-the actual weather temperature trace, which is in the blue dashed line versus our predicted temperature.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 2/27-1]

We started it at about 1200 to 1200 for the temperature trace, and we started our forecast trace at midnight because it was our anticipated prediction that at 12:00 midnight we would go below 32 degrees. We were about three degrees warm approximately until about 4:00 a.m., at which time we caught up with the curve, and then we were a slight bit, as you can see, colder in our prediction than the actual weather was.

Is that sufficient?

MR. HOTZ: Yes.

I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.

DR. COVERT: Colonel Kolczynski, I would like to ask you a question or two if I may on the information that you had generated on the winds aloft particularly the wind shear conditions and the jet stream location at 35, 40,000 feet at the time of launch, how often that was updated and so forth.

COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: I did provide a package. Unfortunately, you don't have the launch times of our




upper air sounding systems. But I do have available for the panel a listing of all of the balloons and rockets that were sent up, and I will provide that.

DR. COVERT: How often do you send up balloons?

COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: The balloon that was used I believe for the loads calculations was the 3 hour and 30 minute prior to launch balloon.

DR. COVERT: That would be 8:00 a.m., roughly?

COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: No, sir. The launch time-if the launch time were at 10:30, that would have been somewhere around 0700, 1 believe. And the actual time of that was-I believe that is 7:05, but I will double check that for you.

[971] Basically, that information is collected and then transmitted to the Johnson winds people, who are Marshall people. I'm sure, they go to Johnson to do the wind loads calculations.

We send up a balloon. It is my contractor Pan Am that does the launching and the data collection and the transfer of that data in automated fashion to those people. Per se we don't do wind shears, and I would defer that question to the Marshall people because they can explain that much better than I can as to how they




do the loads calculations.

All we do is the measurement of the upper air soundings and pass the information to Marshall.

DR. COVERT: That is all I am interested in at this point. About the time that balloon went through 35 to 40,000 feet, how far was it displaced from the position where the space shuttle would have penetrated that altitude?

COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: I don't have that information. I can get that for you.

DR. COVERT: Would you guess it was a substantial distance?

COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: I really wouldn't want to speculate. I just haven't looked at the data that closely. But I can get you that information.

DR. COVERT: Are there other ways of doing altitude soundings that would be more precise?

COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: We have several techniques that we use at the Cape. One of them is a radar track mylar balloon with little conical shaped protrusions all over it. It is called a JIMSPHERE, and we track that balloon, and it has an accuracy of approximately about-we can collect data in approximately 100 foot intervals.

The balloons rise at about 1,000 feet per




minute. Then there are the rawinsondes and the windsones, and they are substantially less accurate.

There are other techniques that are being investigated, the upper air radar sounders, doppler acoustic radars, that show some potential. But again, as to the real capability of those kinds of systems, I think those questions again would be better addressed to the Marshall people, because they have folks right there that have been looking at those kinds of systems.

DR. COVERT: I guess I would just like to go back and again emphasize one point. All of these drift techniques, the balloons are launched near the pad?

COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: No, the balloons are launched on the Cape Canaveral side of the complex. So they are south of the area where the shuttle is. And I'm not very good with distances, but I would estimate perhaps five miles, and that could be in error.

DR. COVERT: What kind of gradients exist in the upper air winds, so that if you have a balloon that is ten miles from where the shuttle is going to penetrate this altitude, how do you correct? Or again, is this a Marshall task and not yours?

COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: We don't correct the balloons. All we do is-essentially, when it moves, it is a radio frequency kind of thing. We get radio




signal back and as the balloon drifts that gives some indication of not only the speed, but also the direction in which we at a certain level feel the wind is blowing. It's not a feeling. We measure it to the best of our ability.


[972] COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: So if you are asking me how continuous is the atmosphere, I can't answer that question. I would-again, I'm not an upper air dynamicist, and I think you probably could find somebody who could give you a much better answer than I could.

DR. COVERT: Thank you, Colonel.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Davis, you said that the weather conditions on the pad were the worst of any launch, any previous launch, is that correct? Or maybe it was Mr. Stevenson that said that.

MR. DAVIS: We probably both said it.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Do you want to discuss that a bit? In other words, the conditions on the launch pad themselves were the worst of any flight, any previous flight, is that accurate?

MR. DAVIS: Okay, I will give it a try. Earlier in the year before January launch, we got ice all over the fixed service structure. However, we were able to decide not to launch




CHAIRMAN ROGERS: You scrubbed that launch?

MR. DAVIS: We scrubbed that launch, and it all melted off before the time of the actual launch. And so as far as launch time is concerned, it was relatively warm by the time that we did launch.

This time, however, we were in the 20's, like 24 to 26 degrees, at the time we were out there at the T minus 3 hold, and this is well below anything we had ever experienced before. And it did serve to verify our math model which we use to predict the amount of ice that we may get on the outside of the tank.

Normally, we all talk about the fact that below 32 degrees you're going to have ice. But this isn't strictly true if the ice has to come from the moisture in the air, which is the case here. So as far as the tank itself is concerned, we verified within a reasonable amount of error what the actual temperatures were, and they were well below freezing. And we also verified that the predicted amount of frost was really what was getting on it, which was practically none.

And so as far as the vehicle itself was concerned, the external tank part of it, and also the interface between the tank and the orbiter, we had less ice than we have seen before. But the weather conditions for the other things that we encountered were




much worse.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But the condition, the ice on the launch pad, was worse than any previous flight?

MR. DAVIS: Yes, sir, it was. And we can go through that in some detail. We have some charts that would show that if you like, that show where the ice was and essentially how much it was, and also I think will partly explain my remark yesterday to the effect that the sunlight would make some of it on the eastern side of the stand be more likely to fall off during launch.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, why don't you go ahead and do that. Do you have pictures that you could show us?

MR. STEVENSON: Yes, we have them, and I guess we can have them projected on the screen up there.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Fine, go ahead, why don't you.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 2/27-2]

MR. STEVENSON: The first picture is just an orientation type picture showing the MLP deck, the FSS, and the RSS.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Could you explain some of those acronyms so we understand them?

[973] MR. STEVENSON: The platform that the shuttle sits on is the mobile launch platform, the MLP.




CHAIRMAN ROGERS: You refer to that as the launch platform?

MR. STEVENSON: Yes, sir, the mobile launch platform.

The structure off to you right with the swing arms attached which come out to the vehicle is called the fixed service structure, the FSS. And the part that is rotated back on the tracks to what we call the south is the rotational service structure. And we use that for payload changeout.


MR. STEVENSON: The next chart.

(Viewgraph.) (Ref. 2/27-3]

MR. STEVENSON: Okay, this chart just shows you a different view of the FSS and the MLP and the shuttle vehicle. This chart also shows some of the projections we made as far as the trajectories for the ice that would come off of the facility.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Say that again? Now, what are the figures that you show in the chart? They are projections, you say?

MR. STEVENSON: Trajectories of the ice particles as we were predicting that they would fall off of the facility.





MR. STEVENSON: The highest level which we had ice on the facility-and I will go into those in more detail in the future charts here, but the highest elevation was at the 220 foot elevation. And if you see the-we made predictions for three size particles, a six inch by one inch by one inch particle, which is one of those traces; a 12 inch by one inch by one inch particle, which is the center trace; and the 24 inch by one inch by one inch ice particle, which is the inboard trace.

And we had predicted that they would come out on the MLP deck approximately 16 feet from the FSS toward the shuttle vehicle, based upon a 10 knot wind at 300 degrees azimuth.

DR. RIDE: Again, I think you mentioned this yesterday, but that calculation doesn't include the effects of aspiration?

MR. STEVENSON: That is correct. And there's a note on the chart up in the upper right-hand corner that says "Effects of aspiration not included." That was unknown to us.

The next chart.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref.2/27-4]

MR. STEVENSON: Okay. This is just a break across the fixed service structure at the 220 foot




level. At the 220 foot level is the first level at which we encountered ice, and the darkened area you see off there where the arrow pointing toward the north is is where the ice was on that level.

It is the first fire X hose which was let trickled to keep from freezing, and it was drained into an eye bath or an eye wash, and the hose had fallen out of the basin and the water was running on the facility. So that is the first, the highest level at which we had ice, and the darkened area is away from the vehicle to the northwest.

Next chart.

[974] (Viewgraph.) [Ref.2/27-5]

This chart is the level immediately below the 200 foot level, which we probably had the most ice. The darkened area again shows the part of the facility of the FSS at which we had ice. There is a color.

The next chart.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-6]

Okay, this is a color photograph that was taken at T minus 3.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What are we looking at?

MR. STEVENSON: You are looking at the northwest corner of the fixed service structure, the plumbing, the structural moments itself where you see




the icicles that have formed as a result of the water coming, running down from the level immediately above.

Icicles on this level were approximately two feet long and a maximum diameter of about three-quarters of an inch.

The next chart.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 2/27-7]

The previous chart, by the way, was the level of the access arm, orbiter access arm, from which the crew enters the vehicle. This happens to be the 160 foot level, and again the blackened area shows the area where we encountered ice.

This area does show a little bit more ice over on what I'm calling the east side, which is the side toward the vehicle, which would be in the top of the frame.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: The last picture you say showed the area where the crew entered the vehicle?

MR. STEVENSON: Yes, the same level from which the crew enters the vehicle. The photo was actually taken from the area of the slide wire, which is the emergency egress system.

The next chart.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-8]

MR. STEVENSON: Again, this is a color photo




taken at T minus 3 hours from the MLP deck. But it does show the 160 foot level. Icicles on this level were approximately one foot in length and approximately five-eighths inch in diameter, and you can see them on the stairways and all of the substructure of the facility.

MR. DAVIS: If I may, in this area the sun would be hitting the eastern section of it, which is right in this area, and all of those small icicles up at the top would be the ones that would be getting the sun first and would begin to loosen and would be ready to fall at the time of liftoff.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Davis, did you perform the same functions on previous launches, particularly the two previous launches?

MR. DAVIS: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Those were both launched from pad A, is that correct?

MR. DAVIS: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And this was at pad B?

MR. DAVIS: That is correct.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And this is the first time pad B had been used?

MR. DAVIS: That is correct.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Did pad A have weather


[975] 1756


protection of some kind?

MR. DAVIS: No, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: On pad A wasn't there some weather protection device?

MR. DAVIS: We have one, but it is not in this area, as far as protecting that structure.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But there was some weather protection equipment on pad A, wasn't there?

MR. STEVENSON: Yes, there's the same freeze protection plan for both pads, the same type of protection.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: We were told, I think when we were in Kennedy, that there was weather protection equipment on pad A, but it had not been installed on pad B.

MR. DAVIS: No, I think they were referring to weather protection devices for the orbiter. That was to keep rain and so forth off the orbiter itself. It was not to protect a structure like this. The only thing that is done to protect the structure as such is like draining pipes and preparing it to handle the cold weather situation.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Could you explain the equipment that was on the launch pad A that wasn't on launch pad B?




MR. STEVENSON: The equipment that is on pad A in terms of weather protection is equipment which is used to protect the orbiter from rain and hail, the weather. It is part of the rotational service structure, and for launch, of course, that is rolled back. It is rolled back at approximately T minus 20 hours, say.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What kind of equipment is it? Is it a cover of some kind that covers the orbiter?

MR. STEVENSON: Currently it is a canvas type. We call it a sail, and it also involves some hard structure. For this pad and for the future, it will all be hard structure.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But it didn't have anything to do with the external tank or the solid rocket boosters?

MR. STEVENSON: No, sir, not in this time frame. Both pads would be identical in this time frame.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I'm not sure that I know what you mean by "this time frame." I'm trying to figure out whether there was a difference in the protection against the weather in the last launch compared to this one.




MR. STEVENSON: In this time frame, the part of the weather protection for the orbiter which is attached to the RSS would not be in place, because the RSS would be in its launch position. And regardless, both pads would have the same configuration at this point in time.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, why don't we go ahead. We can straighten it out later.

MR. DAVIS: Could I just for a second? I might be able to fix it. What it is, we have batwing type things that are on the rotating service structure, and those things will fold up out of the way. And you have to rotate that service structure back away from the vehicle. That takes all of that stuff with it.

At this time, those things are not on pad B, but they would have been away anyway for this period of time. Like we're fixing to launch, so they would move it back out of the way.

[976] And any of the things that you see here, like the icicles and so forth, would have been just like they are now, regardless of what the weather protection device and so forth had been, had it been identical to pad A.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: But for the several days before launch there would have been a difference in




protection of the orbiter?

MR. DAVIS: That is correct.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Now, in your mind that had no significance as far as this flight is concerned?

MR. DAVIS: No, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, if that is the case, why bother having the protection on the orbiter, if it made no difference?

MR. DAVIS: Well, I will try to answer it, though I am not a Kennedy person. But I will give it a shot, because of this-the real intent of that protective device that they're putting over the orbiter itself is to prevent absorption of moisture into the tiles.

Now, they did have some protection. That was to keep the orbiter from getting damaged by the fact of getting wet, and that protection is what we're talking about. That has just been moved away regardless, and between the time that that was rolled back and the time of launch there was no precipitation and nothing happened that would have made a difference one way or the other.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Okay. Go ahead.

MR. STEVENSON: Okay. Next chart, please.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref.2/27-9]




The next chart is just a plan view, again moving down the FSS to the 140 foot level. Again, the darkened area shows the area at which we encountered ice of some form.

Next chart.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-10]

Again, this is a color photo showing the ice. At this time it's on the vehicle side of the FSS. The vehicle in the background is the left-hand SRB at the ET attach ring. That is the area at which we attach the tank to the SRB and the area at which we attach the orbiter to the external tank.

You see the orbiter in the background. The lower surface, the icicles here are approximately one foot in length and about one-half inch in diameter.

Next chart, please.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-11]

Again, this is a color photo of the same area, just taken one slice higher on the vehicle. You can actually stack the previous photo and this one together, and you will get the idea-if they were stacked in this fashion, you would get the idea of what the total level looks like on the 140 foot level.

The next photo.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-12]


[977] 1761


I included one to show some of the icing conditions on some of the equipment that we were using. This happens to be a communications station which we use to communicate back to the LCC and other areas on the pad.

Icicles here are approximately one foot in length and about a half an inch in diameter. There was ice, as we mentioned yesterday, on various distribution panels and valve box panels, as well as on side walls of the structure.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Was there any concern that that ice would affect the operation of those instruments?

MR. STEVENSON: That particular instrument I couldn't use because of the ice, because I couldn't turn the knobs to get to the right channel, and I had to go to another.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Say that again so I can understand it? A little louder, please?

MR. STEVENSON: This particular box I tried to use, as a matter of fact, and I had to go to another station, because I could not turn the dials to got to the proper channel.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But that had no effect on the safety of the launch as far as you were concerned?





CHAIRMAN ROGERS: It was just an alternate source of equipment?

MR. STEVENSON: That is correct. And as a matter of fact, these units are not in operation during a normal launch except when we're on the pad, and they are usually in the inert, let's say, condition.

DR. RIDE: You said that you saw ice on other equipment on the launch pad, the distribution boxes, presumably valves and that sort of thing?

MR. STEVENSON: All of which are in the remote condition.

Next chart, please.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref.2/27-13]

MR. STEVENSON: Moving down the structure, this happens to be the 120 foot level, and again the darkened area shows the area where we found ice. And in all of these, I should point out that most of the areas that you've seen the darkened area is really the north and northwest part of the facility. That is where we saw the most heavy concentrations of ice. The east side, which is in the top part of the TV screen, we actually saw the least amount of ice.

The next chart.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-14]




MR. STEVENSON: This is a color photograph looking at the 120 foot level from the mobile launch platform deck, that shows the icicles that were forming on the roof or on the floor, whichever may be the case, on the grating, as the water had dripped through the grating.

Again, this side is the northeast corner and it is toward the vehicle.

The next chart.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-15]

This photograph was taken from the 100 foot level of the FSS. It shows the orbiter in the background with a part of the external tank, and on the far left the part of the SRB. It shows one of the beams, structural moments of the FSS, with the icicles on it.

These icicles are about three inches long and less than half an inch in diameter.

The next chart.

[978] (Viewgraph.) [Ref.2/27-16]

This chart is just a plan view of the MLP deck. We are showing in the crosshatched area the 16 feet that we were predicting would be the footprint for ice which we were projecting would fall off of the FSS at ignition.




And again, this chart does not take into effect the effect of aspiration. And we will go over in the next few charts and talk about the SRB flame holes which you see in the center part of the photo.

The next chart.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-17]

This photo is a photo of the MLP deck looking from the FSS to east, toward the vehicle. The vehicle would be in the top part of the frame. The shiny part of the MLB deck is sheet ice approximately one-eighth of an inch thick.

Down in the bottom of the frame, you see icicles, which were running from a fire hose into the drain. Those icicles are about four feet long, and that is over the edge of the MLP deck.

Next chart.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-18]

You need to turn that one over.

Okay. This is the chart of what are called water troughs within the SRB flame holes to prevent overpressure. They are filled with the 6,500 gallons, roughly, of water and antifreeze. The antifreeze was put in for this launch as part of our freeze protection plan.

The water was protected against freezing down




to 16 degrees Fahrenheit. And this chart over on the right-hand side, the first four or five water bags, you can see that there is ice on the surface. This picture was taken after we had begun to remove the ice with, let's call it, a fish net. We actually broke the ice up and dipped it out.

The next chart.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-19]

This again is the left-hand SRB flame hole, and it shows the amount of ice we have taken out. It shows a little bit of ice that is left in there. We did come back out after this photo was taken and fish out most of the remaining ice that you see there. There's a few pieces still left in there floating, about the size of your hand.

The next chart.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-20]

This is just a repeat of what we've said, and again you can see a few pieces of ice were left in there. We felt we got a minimum of 95 percent to 98 percent of the ice that was available in the trough. We did fish it out.

And we did make one more attempt at T minus 20 to get out additional ice that you do see floating around in there when this photograph was taken.




The next chart.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-21]

This is a typical photo of the ice that was taken out of the water troughs and dumped on the MLP deck, where we later swept it off. We were estimating that the water-that the density of the ice here was approximately 25 pounds per cubic foot. It was approximately one half inch thick.

[979] The next chart.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-22]

The two next charts are of the aft skirt on the left-hand SRB. There was a little bit of water-or a little bit of water had gotten on the aft skirt of the SRB as a result of the overflow from the eye wash basins, and that water had turned to ice.

If you could zoom in on the blue ring on the bottom. The little white that you see on the blue ring is the ice we were referring to. We did remove that ice as best we could.

The next chart.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-23]

This is a closeup of the same area. We had decided in the early meetings that ice in the area and ice in the water trough was unacceptable for launch, and that is the reason we went back out a second time and




attempted to remove all of the ice in the area of the flame hole.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Would you explain that a bit. You decided earlier what, that that was unacceptable?

MR. STEVENSON: Okay. Ice in the water troughs, which we were showing, or any debris is unacceptable for launch, because we have seen in the past film analysis that some of this debris can be thrown up toward the vehicle.

And so we decided that we would have to remove the ice, particularly in the primary water bags, which could become a source of debris and impact the vehicle.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And you did that?

MR. STEVENSON: And we did that. The water bags that you've seen here in these photographs are mainly what we call the secondary water bags. The primary water bags are just below this photo, close in around the nozzles of the SRB's, and that had considerably less ice in it, and also we took more pains to make sure we fished it all out.

The next chart, please.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-24]

We put in about three charts to show the overall condition of the vehicle. We haven't talked




much about the vehicle, but this chart does show the frost conditions on the vehicle, and this is launch time, not T minus 3. These are pad cameras, taken at launch.

And you do see a little bit of frost on the external tank. We see no anomalies with the orbiter or the SRB.

MR. DAVIS: If I could interrupt here for just a second. If you notice, on the right side the frost is a little more evident on the back side where it's in the shade. You see the white on the tank itself, and this is the kind of frost that we were seeing earlier. And you see on the side that is next to the orbiter, it is pretty well melted off.

MR. STEVENSON: Next chart.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-25]

This chart is at the T zero.

The next chart.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-26]

This chart shows the vehicle rise of approximately 100 feet.

DR. RIDE: What time is this?

MR. STEVENSON: I would say approximately two seconds.

DR. COVERT: Mr. Chairman, could I suggest we


[980] 1769


have copies of that picture, please?

MR. STEVENSON: Yes, sir, I will supply you copies.

DR. RIDE: Can you pan that down just a little bit.

MR. STEVENSON: Would you pan that down just a little, please.

MR. HOTZ: Charlie, this may not be your field, but it looks like there's a little puff of smoke off on the right hand side there. Can you describe that for us?

MR. STEVENSON: Yes, sir. That is the puff of smoke that has been released before to the press and to the world. That puff of smoke in that picture is I believe it is about 100 or so inches tall and about five feet across.

MR. HOTZ: And what is the time frame of that picture?

MR. STEVENSON: I believe it's about two seconds. I would have to go back and check the time.

GENERAL KUTYNA: Would it pay to back up one chart? Was there smoke on that chart previously?

MR. STEVENSON: Yes, would you back up one chart.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-27]




MR. HOTZ: Is there any smoke visible in that picture, Charlie?

MR. STEVENSON: No, sir, I don't think so. They are not sequential pictures. I took them out of a string of photos, and they are not necessarily in the correct order.

MR. HOTZ: But this appears to be a different angle from any of the pictures that we have seen. I wonder if you could make a sequential series of that available to the Commission.

MR. STEVENSON: Yes, sir. I have 130 photographs in that area.

MR. HOTZ: Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Could you go back to the one where the smoke appears for the first time, please.

MR. STEVENSON: I believe that is chart 24.

DR. COVERT: Could the operator focus the one, focus that to the left. Put the one back on you just had.

(Slide.) [Ref.2/27-28]

MR. STEVENSON: In one of those photographs, now that I've pulled the notes out, the cloud of smoke is 36 inches by 108 inches. And then in the larger photo it's 72 inches by 130 inches.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Have any of you made any




interpretation of these pictures as far as weather is concerned?

MR. STEVENSON: Not as far as the weather is concerned, no, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Have you any other conclusions on it?

MR. STEVENSON: Well, our conclusion would be speculation based on-but if you want that, I will speculate.


CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, go ahead.


MR. STEVENSON: Engineers don't like to speculate, but based upon our photo data-and we have analyzed all of the photos-we feel that that is a leak. It may or may not be related to [981] temperature, and we feel it is coming out of-the most likely spot is the joint between the aft booster and the aft segment.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And this is the right booster?

MR. STEVENSON: This is the right booster, yes.

MR. DAVIS: And this is the area that I mentioned yesterday, where I was taking a shot of that area above it, which is the white area there, where all




of that extra frost is up there. I panned up and down that area on the tank and got the temperature readings earlier.

And so at that time we could see absolutely nothing that would indicate any kind of a leak from the tank itself, and this is in that specific area.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So your speculation would be the same as Mr. Stevenson's?

MR. DAVIS: Yes, sir.


VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Would you tell us again how long before the time of this picture your last reading with the IR gun was, or any other measurement?

MR. STEVENSON: That time was 7:14. Give us chart 26.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref.2/27-29]

MR. DAVIS: That was almost five hours earlier than the picture we were just looking at.


MR. DAVIS: About five hours. We were right at noon when we launched, and that was roughly at 7:00 o'clock.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: And have you made any attempt to project what the first-or correct your measurements to give the actual temperature of the




seal area at the time you made the measurements, and then to project what they may have been at launch time?

MR. DAVIS: Yes, sir, we have. Taking the 19 degrees corrected measurement, which is indicated on this chart in front of you there, and taking into account the change in ambient temperature and a minor consideration, which could be a major one and completely make my guess wrong in that it might be a higher temperature than I'm going to project, it comes out that the temperature should have been approximately 28 to 30 degrees at the time of launch.


Is that all of the charts you had?

MR. STEVENSON: Yes, this is all the ones we planned to present, and we will make these available to you.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Thank you very much.

Mr. Armstrong.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Yes. I would like to return to your testimony of yesterday indicating your past experience with seeing leaks from the ET, not necessarily leaks but perhaps vents or whatever. And is it your conclusion, based upon your past experience, that a leakage out of the external tank, either LOX or hydrogen, would in fact be visible because there would




be associated condensation in the air and so on, or not?

[982] MR. DAVIS: Yes, sir, that is correct. And in fact, we have corroborating evidence of it in our photographs that showed the purge coming out of the hydrogen to-let's see-the hydrogen-umbilical interface between the tank and the orbiter. You can see the condensation and see the nitrogen purge coming out, and it is considerably warmer than the nitrogen itself would be.

We can also see the oxygen coming out of the oxygen vent system, and as it comes out you can see it, and we have a mixture of purged nitrogen and mixed with that oxygen, and that is dry nitrogen we are using. And so if we had a leak of hydrogen we would certainly see it, be cause very minutely it would give you a rather large plume.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: And you would both see it and, if you went over that area with your gun, you would probably see it with that. So you had two sources.

And the last time of your visual inspection of the SRB and the ET was again how long before launch?

MR. DAVIS: T minus 20 minutes, which would be about 40 minutes before launch.




VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Can you say that your impression is that, based upon your visual observations at T minus 20 minutes, there was no evidence of any leak?

MR. DAVIS: That is correct.

MR. RUMMEL: Was the specific charge of yours to in fact look for hydrogen leaks, or was this done more or less in passing while you were there?

MR. DAVIS: We are not specifically charged to look for hydrogen leaks as such. We are charged to look for any leaks, and any leaks to the substrate, through a crack or anything of that nature in the thermal protection system.

And as part of the interface area down there, we have a possibility of a leak always, although we have good seals. And up to this point we don't have a record of having a leak.

But we always make a specific inspection for that, and we make specific inspections, and I looked personally, as well as all the other members on the team, for any indication of a crack or a leak or anything that goes with it.

But we aren't charged to go look for hydrogen.

MR. RUMMEL: I take it there are other means,




then, as well? Are there TV cameras that continuously scan with respect to propellant leaks in the ET?

MR. DAVIS: Yes, sir, that is correct. We have them, but we don't have total coverage. We do have pretty good coverage in the area that I'm speaking of

MR. RUMMEL: And where is that reported? Is that in the control center? Where are the cameras read that continuously report?

MR. DAVIS: That is the launch control center, in what we commonly refer to as the Ice House. We have a multitude of cameras that are directable by Charlie and his people and myself on request, to look at any particular spot. We have trained observers who watch it at all times, so that we are really looking for this kind of thing. This is our basis for existence.

MR. RUMMEL: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Is there any evidence at all that you have seen that would suggest to you there is any possibility of a leak in that area on this Challenger flight?

MR. DAVIS: Absolutely none.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: There have been, as you know, stories that somehow a hydrogen leak on the external tank might have been a cause of this accident.


[983] 1777


But so far you've had no evidence to that effect at all?

MR. DAVIS: No, sir. I can't support even a consideration of it.


DR. RIDE: I have one question on your speculation about the smoke. I was wondering to what extent you have been able to localize the origin of the smoke on the photographs? Can you pin it down to a one square foot area or five square feet or 12 square feet?

Just how close can you do that photographically now?

MR. DAVIS: Maybe we should both answer that one. I can say that it looks to me, my personal observation of it, that it is inboard of the connection of the lower strut between the SRB and the ET. And I believe that is about something inboard of 45 degrees off the centerline.

MR. STEVENSON: It is approximately 300 degrees.

DR. RIDE: Okay. I guess really my question is, how sure are you of that? What are your error bars on that? Can you say that within a couple of feet or within a couple of inches?




MR. STEVENSON: We will say it is within a foot of the joint, and it is at 300 degrees.

DR. RIDE: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: That's pretty precise.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: It is my understanding that you also have as part of your responsibilities the search for debris post-launch.

MR. STEVENSON: Yes, sir.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Can you tell us what the results of that search were for this occasion?

MR. STEVENSON: Okay. Normally at postlaunch we inspect the pad proper inside, let's say, the perimeter fence, unless we find flight hardware or some reason to go beyond. We have gone as far as the beach and we have gone as far as 15, 20 miles north and south of the beach, depending upon the conditions which would warrant that.

For this time, my normal inspection team was delegated the responsibility to look inside the pad, and inside the pad we found-as of this time, we have found no flight hardware or parts off of the flight vehicle. We have not found anything in the nature of facility debris that would cause damage to the flight vehicle.

GENERAL KUTYNA: May I ask, there were some




new doors on this launch pad that were supposed to slap down after launch and I was told they were fairly large springs that slap those doors down, and those springs are missing. And the last time I heard we hadn't found them.

Have you found them yet?

MR. STEVENSON: One spring was found on the MLP deck by holddown post number one.

The other three springs are still missing. The springs have a plunger mechanism. We have found two of those. The other two are still missing.

The two we found were approximately 1200 feet north of the pad, next to the perimeter fence. One was on the inside of the fence and one was on the outside of the fence. We feel that the other two are out in the lagoon and under water.

GENERAL KUTYNA: So no speculation that these might have bounced off the orbiter or something?

[984] MR. STEVENSON: We have-we are in the process of doing a film analysis, and the film analysis shows that the doors to reach their 60 degree or 57 degree position, the timing is such that the vehicle was what we consider to be far enough away that when those springs could have come out and the plunger, that the vehicle would be in a safe position.




VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: To follow my previous question, had there been ice impacts on the orbiter tiles, for example, and damage to those tiles, would you normally expect that you would be able to find some evidence of that in your post-launch inspection?

MR. STEVENSON: I feel that, number one, if we had any damage to the vehicle during liftoff, the high speed film, launch film that we take, in all likelihood would show us that.

Secondly, if we had lost any flight type hardware-and we have done that in the past-live would have found it, and we have found it in the past.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: For example, losing tiles, for example, you would expect it?

MR. STEVENSON: The time we lost tiles, we found nearly every single one.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Colonel Kolczynski, could you characterize for us the nature of the Cape weather and the difficulties that you encountered as a result of having to meet the launch and recovery criteria, since there are so many weather constraints on both of those areas?

COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: I perceive that as two questions of a generic sense. To answer the first one, anyone that has taken an aerial photograph of the Cape




knows full well that we are surrounded by water in that particular area. We have got the Indian River and Banana River to the west, and of course the Atlantic Ocean and several lagoons around, to provide enough moisture source.

Consequently, in the winter time in early mornings we run into problems with fog. In the summer time we encounter convection thunderstorm rain shower activity, which unfortunately oftentimes builds up directly over the Cape and KSC.

As far as the second question, I believe was

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: What difficulties or how fast, really how fast does weather change, and what difficulties does that provide you in being able to meet the launch and recovery criteria that are associated with those?

COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: If we could become specific with 51-L, for example, the frontal system, that frontal system seemed to move rather well as it came toward the Gulf and even midway through the Gulf. Once it got toward the Florida peninsula, it suddenly slowed down and, as you very well know, we had better than anticipated cloud conditions.





COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: There were scattered clouds, less clouds than anticipated, right about launch time.

And so I guess what I'm trying to say is it's very difficult to hold continuity, especially 12 hours in advance on a system which is moving even as rapidly as this one was. There are occasions where you're going to miss the timing a little bit, and of course we were off a little bit on the timing this time.

[985] About an hour as I recall, in terms of the relationship of all of the criteria that need to be met. As you well know, we, the Air Force, are responsible up until the launch of a vehicle. So we were responsible for the launch forecast.

The forecast post-launch up to and including the landing of the shuttle, whether that be at Edwards or at Kennedy, is the responsibility of the Spaceflight Meteorology Group down at Johnson. They are the National Weather Service people.

So we coordinate every forecast that goes out to the Mission Management Team, to the launch director, to the flight director, with Johnson. We have a very close relationship with those people because, as you well know, and as depicted in the brochure that I've given you, there are launch criteria which are different




from the RTLS criteria.

Oftentimes the weather looks extremely good over the Cape for launch in winds, for example, so that we don't have a wind constraint per se for launch, however we could have a crosswind at the shuttle landing facility, which would have to be considered by the management as to whether or not we would follow those guidelines.

So yes, there are, as you point out-and of course, we've got the trans-Atlantic abort weather criteria which have to be met, and the once around abort criteria, both at Edwards and at White Sands Space Harbor, that have to be met.

And so we have to meld all of these together in a coordinated forecast which encompasses all of those requirements, so that we can give the decision managers a better picture of what the weather looks like everywhere.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Can you characterize whether that is a difficult task in terms of being sufficiently able to accurately project the weather conditions at launch time in order to meet all of the constraints? Is it difficult, or do you have a high degree of confidence in that ability?

COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: I believe the people on




my staff and the people at the Johnson staff and the weather team do as good or better job than anybody can do in predicting the weather. But anyone that has done an analysis of forecasting knows that the farther away you get from an observation in terms of time, the less precise, accurate, your forecast is, and it drops off very rapidly after about six hours.

So when you're making a 12-hour projection, the likelihood of being 100 percent accurate is relatively-or is slimmer than it would be if you were making a three-hour forecast. But with the equipment provided by NASA and the kind of people that we have supporting the mission in terms of the weather people, I think, as I said before, we do as good a job as you can get done.

DR. RIDE: The weather at KSC, of course, is very dynamic. Do you feel that there are maybe times of year at the Cape where it is difficult for you to project even say 30 minutes ahead, as you have to do for an RTLS, or an hour ahead?

COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: That is especially true of the two situations that I brought up to your attention. As you well know, when you get into a situation of very light winds in the winter time mornings, you get very close dew point depression. Does




everybody understand what that means?

[986] So that the atmosphere is relatively wet. If the winds get very light, we could get a fog condition, which is a problem for RTLS. And so that is a situation where one has to very cautiously watch the weather and watch the temperatures and winds.

The same thing with thunderstorms. Because of the dynamic nature of the weather at Kennedy, we can actually have storms build up right over Canaveral or Kennedy itself. We are doing a lot of-we are acquiring a lot of equipment to try and get a better handle on that.

We are getting equipment which will tell us about the vertical motion of the air. If we see an area where the air is moving in toward the center, we know there is only one place it can go and that's up, and that is a place that we can look far for potential storm development.

And so we're trying to get a handle, for example, on hour or two or even 30 minutes, for that matter, ahead of the storm developing, to be able to tell the decision maker, we know we've got a developing system right here, it may or may not cause us problems.

Does that answer your question?

DR. RIDE: Yes. Roughly what time scale have




you seen storms, thunderstorms in particular, develop? Can you see them? Do they pop up within an hour of when you weren't expecting them, or is it-do you have an hour's warning or two hours warning?




COLONEL KOLCZYNSKI: Basically, if they are going to pop up inside an hour or 30 minutes, we have a relatively unstable atmosphere, and we would anticipate that we will have storms in the area, at least rain showers, and probably thunder storms. Otherwise, we have a relatively good handle on the fact that storms will occur within the area, and when I say within the area, within 50 nautical miles, perhaps, of the Cape, at least six hours and sometimes even 24 hours in advance based upon the flow patterns that occur, based upon the atmospheric condition, whether or not we have a frontal system in the area, the stability of the atmosphere, the predicted stability.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Stevenson, Mr. Davis, in the performance of your duties, were you called upon to make a recommendation about launch or no launch as far as weather is concerned, either one of you or both?

MR. STEVENSON: Normally that is based upon the weather predictions. We, when the weather is bad, we will go to management and say we are totally out of it, there is no reason to try to launch.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What happened this time on 51-L?

MR. STEVENSON: For this particular time, the weather, the conditions were such that we were




predicting that we would have frost on the vehicle, and therefore we had no reason to say not to load the tank with cryo.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But do you go to someone and tell them what your recommendation is, or your view on it?

MR. STEVENSON: Yes, sir, starting a day to two days before launch, we start to do that.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And what about the day of the launch? Did you have the occasion to make a recommendation on that day?

MR. STEVENSON: On the day of launch, whether we launched or not, yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And to whom did you make the recommendation?

[987] MR. STEVENSON: Well, as we have testified, once we came on station that night, which was roughly around midnight, we immediately began to see that we had a problem with the facility, and that was brought to the management attention starting with my Director of Engineering. It went on up the loop.


MR. STEVENSON: Up through the management chain, and for the next ten hours prior to launch, we spent approximately four hours on the pad as a result of




confrontations with management and our concern and their concern for what was going on out there, and we also spent approximately three or four hours in discussion with the management system discussing the results of our findings on the pad.

And so I think they are very responsive.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What was the result? Now, you've told me the system. What did you finally say to somebody at that point?

MR. STEVENSON: In the last meeting we presented the subtotal, let's say, of all of our findings. We were able to say that the facility ice, which we were all concerned with, would stay within the 16 feet or so of the FSS. We expressed concern for the effects of aspiration, which. was an unknown, and we left it at that. We were not worried about the ice that would fall off the facility if we could be assured that the ice would stay within the 16 feet of the FSS and not be drawn into the left hand SRB flame hole and thereby become, debris and be ejected into the vehicle.

The management system again wrestled with that for quite a while and made phone calls and finally decided that it would not be a safety of flight issue to launch.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And you made that




recommendation yourself, that there would not be a problem as far as safety of launch was concerned?

MR. STEVENSON: Once the opinion had developed that the aspiration would not draw the ice into the SRB flamehold, we had no problem with saying that it was okay to launch.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Did you make that recommendation, and if so, how did you make it, orally or in writing.



MR. STEVENSON: To-well, starting with, let's see, Jesse and Arnie.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Moore and Mr. Aldrich?


CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And was the same thing true in your case, Mr. Davis?

MR. DAVIS: Yes, it was. In fact, my suggestion that if we were going to fly, that we should do it as early as possible, was picked up. Mr. Moore specifically stated that he felt that that was true, too, and they proceeded that way.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But you were both satisfied there was no safety problem as far as this launch was concerned?




MR. DAVIS: As far as the ice was concerned, yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Or any other weather problem, related problems, or did you just concern yourself with the ice conditions?

[988] MR. DAVIS: Well, in this particular case we were only discussing the ice, but I saw no other thing that would have caused me to bring up anything else.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: In those discussions, did anyone express any doubt about the wisdom of flying this launch in view of the weather conditions?

MR. STEVENSON: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Who did that?

MR. STEVENSON: Rockwell.

DR. RIDE: I think it may be important to point out here that the ice team is basically coming back and reporting facts, reporting what they have seen, and then acting in an advisory capacity, and you are not really in the decision making chain for the launch.

MR. STEVENSON: We make recommendations based on what we found.

DR. RIDE: And you really don't do the analysis of what could happen to the orbiter tiles if the ice hits. You just calculate the trajectories of the ice that you have seen, is that right?




MR. STEVENSON: And again, based upon size, we know what damage would occur, yes.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: What was your reasoning in recommending the earliest possible launch?

MR. DAVIS: I believe I mentioned it yesterday, but I will go through it again. Sunlight, first of all, is pretty transparent-ice is transparent to sunlight. The substrate underneath it in the case where we are talking about here is a dark gray, and it is rather rough, and so it absorbs sunlight and turns it into heat energy right at the substrate between the ice and the mobile launch platform, for example, and this is the part I was specifically referring to, and also the handrails that had the icicles on it. So the sun makes it turn loose at the bottom, so to speak and it makes the sheet be loose so it could literally be picked up and sucked into the flame transient and flown up.

So we made every effort to get all of the even partially loosened ice off of the deck and to make sure that there is no loose ice out there.

So the longer you wait after we have done our job, obviously the longer you would have to absorb solar energy and turn some more ice loose.





your conclusion was that the earlier you launched, the less loose ice there would be, is that correct?

MR. DAVIS: That is correct.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Stevenson, you just referred to the fact that you heard Rockwell raise some question about the weather.

Would you tell the Commission what you recall about that and who said it and what they said?

MR. STEVENSON: Rockwell expressed concerns, they did not express a strong opposition to launch.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Who? Mention names if you are able to.

MR. STEVENSON: I believe it was Bob Glaysher.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And what time was that?

MR. STEVENSON: That was after the T-3 hour walkdown.

DR. RIDE: Was that the meeting at about 9:00 in the morning, or was that before you went out for the last time?

MR. STEVENSON: That was about 9:00 in the morning.

[989] MR. DAVIS: It was the same meeting we had the meeting before we went out the last time, and we discussed it at 9:00 o'clock also.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Thank you very much. We




appreciate your testimony.

DR. KEEL: Mr. Petrone, Mr. Glaysher, Mr. Cioffoletti and Mr. Martin, please.

(Witnesses sworn.)

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Gentlemen, will you be seated and give your names and your present employment and what your jobs are?


[Please note that some of the titles to the references listed below do not appear in the original text. Titles are included to identify and clarify the linked references- Chris Gamble, html editor]
990] [Ref. 2/27-1] Possible environmental conditions.

[991] [Ref. 2/27-2] Diagram showing shuttle on launch pad (MLP) and launch tower (FSS) and rotating structure (RSS).

[992] [Ref. 2/27-3] FSS (Fixed Service Structure) Ice Debris Trajectory During 51-L Launch-side view.

[993] [Ref. 2/27-4] Ice Drebis on FSS (Fixed Service Structure) at 220-foot level.

[994] [Ref. 2/27-5] Ice Drebis on FSS (Fixed Service Structure) at 200-foot level.

[995] [Ref. 2/27-6] Ice on Launch Pad (Northwest corner of FSS).

[996] [Ref. 2/27-7] Ice Drebis on FSS (Fixed Service Structure) at 160-foot level.

[997] [Ref. 2/27-8] Not Reproducible.

[998] [Ref. 2/27-9] Ice Drebis on FSS (Fixed Service Structure) at 140-foot level.

[999] [Ref. 2/27-10] Ice on Launch Pad (FSS). [Ref. 2/27-11] Not Reproducible.

[1000] [Ref. 2/27-12] Ice on Launch Pad (Communications Station).

[1001] [Ref. 2/27-13] Ice Drebis on FSS (Fixed Service Structure) at 120-foot level.

[1002] [Ref. 2/27-14] Icicles at the 120-foot level from the Mobile Launch Platform. [Ref. 2/27-15] Not Reproducible.

[1003] [Ref. 2/27-16] FSS Ice Trajectory During 51-L Launch-Plan View.

[1004] [Ref. 2/27-17] Not Reproducible. [Ref. 2/27-18] Not Reproducible. [Ref. 2/27-19] Not Reproducible. [Ref. 2/27-20] Not Reproducible. [Ref. 2/27-21] Not Reproducible. [Ref. 2/27-22] Not Reproducible.

[1005] [Ref. 2/27-23] Not Reproducible. [Ref. 2/27-24] Frost Conditions on the Shuttle at launch time.

[1006] [Ref. 2/27-25] Frost Conditions on the Shuttle at launch time, T zero.

[1007] [Ref. 2/27-26] Frost Conditions on the Shuttle at launch time, T+2 sec.

[1008] [Ref. 2/27-27] Not Reproducible. [Ref. 2/27-28] Not Reproducible.

[1009] [Ref. 2/27-29] Measured Surface Temperatures - Omega Scope. January 28, 1986 between 7:20 and 8:40 EST.

[1010] 1795






DR. PETRONE: Mr. Chairman, I am Rocco Petrone, President of the Space Transportation Systems Division of Rockwell International, located in Downey, California. I have been employed by Rockwell for five years. I have been in my current position for the last two years, and in the prior three with Rockwell held senior management positions in the Space Shuttle program for which Rockwell is responsible. Prior to joining Rockwell I served with NASA from 1960 to 1975.

My division is responsible for the design,




testing, certification and manufacture of the Space Shuttle orbiter, and we provide operational support to the delivered orbiters to NASA. The division is also responsible for integration support and for cargo integration into the Space Shuttle System.


MR. MARTIN: I am Al Martin. I have been with Rockwell 33 years. My present position is I am the site director for Rockwell located at the Kennedy Space Center, and our organization provides technical advisory support to NASA, also logistic support and configuration management support. I have worked on the Shuttle Program for 13 years. I have been at the Kennedy Space Center four years, and prior to that I was the Chief Program Engineer for orbiter development at our plant in Downey, California. I also worked on the Apollo program for ten years, and one of my assignments there was Launch Director, director of launch operation for Rockwell for the Saturn S-II stage at the Kennedy Space Center.

MR. GLAYSHER: I am Robert M. Glaysher. I am Vice President and Program Manager, Orbiter Operations Support for the Space Transportation System Division, Rockwell International, based in Downey, California. I joined Rockwell 13 years ago. I have worked on the orbiter project for that entire time in various


[1011] 1797


management capacities. I have been in my present capacity for approximately two years. My responsibilities as program manager are to provide operations support direction to delivered orbiters and also to provide logistics support activities in support of delivered orbiters.


MR. CIOFFOLETTI: I am Martin Cioffoletti. I have been with Rockwell for 20 years, approximately 13 years on the Space Shuttle program, and I am Vice President of System Integration and Cargo Integration, and the responsibilities there are to provide systems engineering support to the Level II Program Office at the Johnson Space Flight Center for both integration and cargo.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Petrone, you and I had a brief discussion on the telephone about the Rockwell participation in the events leading to the launch on January 28. The Commission would like to have you, in any order you care to, explain the participation of you four gentlemen in that process, with particular reference to the weather, who was at the meeting, what was said, because as we understand it, there was concern on your part as to weather. We would like to know exactly what was said and how that concern was




expressed, and to whom.

DR. PETRONE: I had been at the Cape since Friday, and Monday afternoon after the scrub on that morning, I returned to Downey. I left at the Cape my two program managers you have heard from Bob Glaysher and Marty Cioffoletti, and I told them that I would be in our Mission Support Room in Downey for the launch scheduled for the next morning. Al Martin is our site director and is normally stationed at the Cape, whereas the two gentlemen here traveled with me for this particular launch and supported it.

I first heard about an ice concern about 4:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. I had gotten up and went to the support room to support this launch. We have people monitoring consoles, and I checked in, and they told me there was a concern, and when I arrived at about 4:40 a.m. PST, I was informed we were working the problem with our aerodynamicist and debris people, but very importantly, we would have to make an input to Kennedy for a meeting scheduled at 6:00 a.m. our time and 9:00 a.m. Florida time.

We had approximately an hour of work to bring together. The work had been under way when I arrived and was continuing.

At that time I got on the phone with my two




program managers just to discuss background of where we were, how things stood, and what their concerns were locally. They described what they knew in Florida, and we also in Downey did television input, and we could oft some of the ice scenes that were shown here this morning.

We arrived through a series of meetings to a top level discussion at approximately 5:30 a.m. PST, from which we drew the following conclusions: Ice on the mobile launcher itself, it could be debris. We were very concerned with debris of any kind at the time of launch. With this particular ice, one, could it hit the orbiter? There was wind blowing from the west; that appeared not to be so fast, that ice wouldn't hit the orbiter but it would land on the mobile launcher. The second concern was what happens to that ice at the time you light your liquid fuel engines, the SSMEs, and would it throw it around and ricochet and potentially hit the orbiter.

[1012] The third aspect is the one that has been discussed here of aspiration, what would happen when the large SRM motors ignite and in effect suck in air, referred to as aspiration, and ice additionally would come down, how much unknown.

The prime thing we were concerned about was




the unknown base line. We had not launched in conditions of that nature, and we just felt we had an unknown.

As to specifically that trajectory the ice might fly, one can make estimates, but we felt that it was an unknown, condition.

I then called my program managers in Florida at 5:45 a.m. and said we could not recommend launching from here, from what we see. We think the tiles would be endangered, and we had a very short conversation. They had a meeting to go to, and I said let's make sure that NASA understands that Rockwell feels it is not safe to launch, and that was the end of my conversation.

And with that, I would like to turn it over to my program managers and my site manager.

MR. GLAYSHER: Let me pick up. I was also alerted to the ice problem about 4:00 a.m., but this is Eastern Standard Time. I received a call from the base explaining the condition that ice was on the fixed service structure. I then made sure that the necessary wheels were in motion to get the proper people in Downey brought in so that they could evaluate the ice. That was also done through Mr. Cioffoletti. I then called about 6:00 a.m. and verified what was happening,




and was informed there was a meeting going on on the subject.

I got to the base myself at about quarter to 8 Eastern Standard Time and then discussed with our Chief Engineer, Vice President of Engineering our position, and as Dr. Petrone mentioned, with him and developed a position that Rockwell would take at the 9:00 o'clock meeting that was scheduled.

At the 9:00 o'clock meeting, the ice debris team presented their report on the status of the ice. Following that, various people were asked their recommendations and their positions. When I was asked Rockwell's position, I reiterated that there were three major unknowns in evaluation of the ice. As Dr. Petrone indicated, the first event was aspiration effects. The second was ice that would ricochet from the fixed service structure and head toward the vehicle. And the third category of unknown ice was ice that was resting on the mobile launcher platform at engine ignition.

The fourth category of ice, which was ice in the trough, had already been discussed and resolved once the debris team had removed that ice. Those three categories of ice that I mentioned, however, we have no data base on which to base judgments of that. This is the first time it has occurred. It is not a design




condition for the orbiter.

We therefore felt that since we were in an unknown condition and were unable through any analytical techniques to predict where the ice would go or the degree of damage that would result should that ice strike the orbiter TPS, I then gave the following recommendation to NASA in which I said that Rockwell could not assure the safety of flight, or let me give you a better quote, if you would.

[1013] Yes, my exact quote was-and it comes in two parts. The first one was, Rockwell could not 100 percent assure that it is safe to fly which I quickly changed to Rockwell cannot assure that it is safe to fly.

We then had a discussion about what that meant and the data base that we didn't have in effect. They then moved on to Mr. Al Martin and asked for a position or an opinion from him.

So I will ask Al to pick up there.

MR. MARTIN: In the 9:00 o'clock meeting, Bob Glaysher was our spokesman, but I was asked also if I had anything to add, and statements that I made in the meeting were that I made a statement like it has already been said, meaning that Bob Glaysher had stated the Rockwell position. I also added that we do not have the




data base from which to draw any conclusions for this particular situation with the icicles on the tower, and also, we had no real analytical techniques to predict where the icicles might go at lift-off.

The other thing that I did was review the fact that prior to each launch there is great care taken to make sure that there is no debris out on the launch pad. A day or two before launch a crew goes out and they walk down the entire tower and walk down the mobile launcher surface, and also the concrete apron around the launch pad for the purpose of removing any debris such as nuts, bolts, rocks or anything that might be there.

And I drew the corollary that the icicles in this case could very well become debris, that they might become dislodged from the tower when the SSMEs ignite a few seconds before liftoff, and they could impact on the mobile launcher surface and then become debris when the solid rocket motors lifted off, and we had no way of predicting that.

So I was drawing a corollary between the care that is normally taken for debris and painting a picture, that the icicles appeared to me to be in that same category. And so those were my only comments in that meeting.

MR. CIOFFOLETTI: Similarly, I was called in




and told about the problem and came into the 6:00 o'clock meeting which you heard about a few minutes ago, and at the conclusion of that meeting I spoke with Mr. Dick Kohrs, the Deputy Program Manager from Johnson Space Flight Center, and he asked if we could get the Downey folks to look at the falling ice and how it might traverse toward the vehicle, and also, did we have any information on aspiration effects.

So I did call back to Downey and got the John Peller folks working on that problem, and they did, as you saw from Charlie Stevenson's sketches, predict that the ice would travel only about halfway to the vehicle, free falling ice carried by the winds. So we felt that ice was not a problem. However, it would land on the mobile launch platform. That we considered a problem. We also investigated the aspiration data base we had, and we had seen the aspiration effect on previous launches where things were pulled in to the SRB hole after ignition, but we had never seen anything out as far as the fixed surface tower. So we felt in fact it was an unknown. We did not have the data base to operate from on aspiration effects.

At the 9:00 o'clock meeting I was asked by Arnie Aldrich, the program manager, to give him the results of our analysis, and I essentially told him


[1014] 1805


what I just told you and felt that we did not have a sufficient data base to absolutely assure that nothing would strike the vehicle, and so we could not lend our 100 percent credence, if you will, to the fact that it was safe to fly.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: When Mr. Petrone made his statement, he didn't use the words 100 percent sure, I suppose. Nothing is 100 percent sure.

MR. CIOFFOLETTI: I didn't use those words either. I just paraphrased that.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Why don't you testify what you said, please.

MR. CIOFFOLETTI: I said I could not predict the trajectory that the ice on the mobile launch platform would take at SRB ignition.


MR. CIOFFOLETTI: And that was the end of it.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But I think NASA's position probably would be that they thought that you were satisfied with the launch.

Did you convey to them in a way that they were able to understand that you were not approving the launch from your standpoint?

MR. CIOFFOLETTI: I felt that by telling them we did not have a sufficient data base and could not




analyze the trajectory of the ice, I felt he understood that Rockwell was not giving a positive indication that we were for the launch.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Glaysher, did you make it clear that you felt there was a safety aspect and that you were not approving the launch?

MR. GLAYSHER: Yes, we actually discussed our position and I stated more than once during the meeting Rockwell's position that we could not assure that it was safe to fly. It was stated when I first was asked to give our position, and it was also my last statement at that meeting, as the meeting wound up. I also reiterated the statement several times.

And so we felt that we had communicated Rockwell's position and that we felt it was unsafe to fly.

DR. RIDE: Had Rockwell ever taken that position before on previous launches when the launch had occurred?

MR. GLAYSHER: No, this was the first time where we had been in a position where we really had no data base from which to make a judgment, and this was the first time that Rockwell has taken an unsafe to fly position.

GENERAL KUTYNA: Dr. Petrone, you've got a lot




more experience than I have in this business, but the few launch conferences that I have been in on the question is very simple. Are you "go" or are you "no go" for launch, and "maybe" isn't an answer. I hear all kinds of qualifications and cautions and considerations here. Did someone ask you are you go or no go? Was that not asked?

DR. PETRONE: At this particular meeting, I was not in Florida, and so I cannot answer that. It had been done at earlier meetings. This was a technical evaluation of a series of problems, and we talked about debris hitting the TPS and the tiles, and the long series of reviews that we had done that morning and all led us to a conclusion that they were not safe to fly. And we transmitted that to our program managers along with the technical evaluation quickly of why we had arrived at that.

[1015] So much of it is how the question gets raised because earlier we had aspiration work, ricochet work, a number of things which we did, and then we came up with our recommendation.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And your recommendation now you say it was, it was unsafe to fly?

DR. PETRONE: Correct, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Thank you very much,





Let's take a ten minute recess.

(A brief recess was taken.)




CHAIRMAN ROGERS: The Commission will come to order.

I would like to ask Dr. Petrone to take the stand, please. Dr. Petrone, just a couple of questions.

Did you or any of your associates as far as you know make any phone calls after the discussions that were referred to just before the recess?

DR. PETRONE: I received a phone call from my program manager back to me. I had no talks with NASA that morning. I was transmitting through my officially designated representatives, my two program managers.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But as far as you know, did they have any further conversations with the NASA people after the one that was testified to?

DR. PETRONE: There was one conversation that went on, I guess, while the meeting was going on. The meeting had started, apparently, but had not ended, where my chief engineer received a phone call in Downey from a NASA counterpart in engineering.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And what was your man's name?

DR. PETRONE: John Peller.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And do you know the substance of that conversation?

DR. PETRONE: Really not. I could only hear just a little part of it. I did not participate in that particular phone call. I just could hear a little bit of it, say on one side.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, without getting into the specifies, just generally speaking what was the topic of conversation?

DR. PETRONE: Mr. Peller is here today, and if you care to have that it would be far better for him to talk, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Yes. We will have him wait here. Mr. Aldrich asked to have the opportunity to testify next.

Do you have any other questions, Mr. Armstrong?

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Were you or your program managers informed of the activities that were going on at the Cape during the interruptions to the count and the resumptions to the count?

DR. PETRONE: My two program managers were at the Cape.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: You were informed, I assume, of the resumption of the count?

DR. PETRONE: Yes. After the meeting I


[1016] 1811


received a phone call from Bob Glaysher, who sat here this morning, and then followed by another phone call a few minutes later from Al Martin, in which he told me he had made his input at the meeting, I believe called the 9:00 o'clock meeting, and told me that it looked like NASA was going to go ahead, and we knew that was within a few minutes of the loading of the crew proceeding.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Now, clearly when they resumed the count you knew that your recommendation essentially had been either considered and overruled or dispositioned in some way?

DR. PETRONE: That's right, sir.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: And subsequent to that point in time, were there any other-did you take any other opportunities through yourself or your people to express your opinion again?

DR. PETRONE: Mr. Armstrong, I felt we had expressed our opinion to the proper level, on the proper occasion of the meeting that had been set up for it. I felt I had done all I could do.


DR. RIDE: Did it surprise you that NASA picked up the count?

DR. PETRONE: I was disappointed that they




did, yes.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Have you had any discussions since that time with NASA people about it?

DR. PETRONE: Only one, sir. Mr. Aldrich gave me a call reflecting on what time-had I made a later phone call, I believe was the question he asked me. And I said, no, after the input I made through my program managers at that meeting, I made no further calls. And that was the question he had posed to me.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I see. Okay. Thank you very much, Mr. Petrone. I believe that's all.

Mr. Aldrich?

(Witness sworn.)

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I might say that we have a somewhat different schedule of witnesses, but Mr. Aldrich asked if he could testify next, and of course we said fine.






MR. ALDRICH: Well, Mr. Chairman, if this doesn't please your order, I would be perfectly happy to go in any sequence that suits the Commission.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: No, that's fine. I just want to be sure that it is understood that we are acceding to your wishes, and I think it is a perfectly proper request and an actual request, and I think it fits in in a consistent manner with what I said at the beginning of these hearings, that at any time anything is said that requires an answer, or at least appears to require an answer right away, we try to provide it. And I think this is a perfect example of that.

I think you should testify now about your recollection of the events that we talked about here just a moment ago.

MR. ALDRICH: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Aldrich, you've already identified yourself and have testified previously, and we know about you and your background. We know that you're-I guess it's you [1017] and Mr. Moore are the two key people in the final decision whether to launch or not to launch the Challenger.

MR. ALDRICH: Yes, sir, we are. I would say that, in a different category-that is, the launch




director proceeds with all conditions normal by the documentation, and all of the procedures and guidelines and constraints that are built into the launch process, and Mr. Moore and myself deal with unusual situations or concerns of the kind that the Commission has been discussing.

And we frequently have those on many launches. In fact, I would like to refer to some of that in my testimony.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Please go ahead.

MR. ALDRICH: I had prepared a discussion that started at the beginning of the period leading up to this launch on the L minus one day. I think the interest here probably is to respond to the previous testimony on the ice team and to the

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Yes, we would like that, because we plan a little later in the day maybe to have you and Mr. Moore and others testify overall on some of these matters. But for the moment, and particularly to continue the proper sequence, if you could confine your remarks to the ice problems and the testimony that we just heard from the Rockwell people, I would appreciate it.

MR. ALDRICH: Yes, sir. I will do that. Then let me pick up at the point on the scrub of January




27th. We scrubbed on January 27th after dealing with the problems with the crew hatch, on closing that hatch and then removing the ground support equipment, and then the requirement to realign the inertial measuring units delayed our launch several hours from the planned launch time.

And during those several hours, the crosswinds, which have been mentioned previously, the high winds following the weather front, arrived at Cape Kennedy and were outside our guidelines for landing at the Kennedy launch facility. In the event of an RTLS abort, we have a requirement of crosswinds to be less than 15 knots for the orbiter to land, and they were in excess of that.

And so we scrubbed and immediately had a Mission Management Team meeting. Perhaps in later testimony I can discuss more of what was discussed in that Mission Management Team meeting, but basically there was thought to be no problem with clearing the hatch condition for the following day, that is to launch on January 28th, and there were no other system or complex issues, launch complex issues.

The weather was forecast to continue to be clearing and the crosswinds to subside. So that all parameters appeared to be good for a launch of the




following day, on the 28th, except for the additional weather forecast that now behind the crosswinds was coming the clear sky, the clear air, and the very cold weather which has been discussed in some detail.

In fact, as was discussed here earlier, in that Mission Management Team meeting it was quickly determined that the only issue was in fact the cold weather that was coming, and it was predicted to be 23 to 27 degrees Fahrenheit at the coldest part of the night, and then rising into the thirties at launch time.

[1018] We then asked-this is a Mission Management Team meeting, and I might refer back to what the Mission Management Team is. The Mission Management Team is an assemblage of government managers, NASA and DOD, who have responsibilities for various aspects of the shuttle system. And we utilize it both during this pre-launch period and we use it after flight and launch.

We have regular Mission Management Team meetings in Houston while these flights progress, right up to the landing. And it is our policy after the L minus one day meeting, which is a broader meeting, to deal with questions closer into the launch or as the launch slides in what is called a Mission Management Team meeting.




It is quite a large representation and most often not all of the people that are members are actually in attendance. Given what the subject is and the content of what's being discussed, particularly here is a decision to revert from a scrub on the 27th and issues with picking up with the various elements for the launch on the 28th, and the project people from the various centers that were pertinent to that were in this meeting.

But there are other Mission Management Team members who were not there and we would not have expected to be there.

We also have to consider whether at the cross-Atlantic sites-for this mission we had trans-Atlantic abort into Dakar and into Casablanca, and particularly Dakar had been very troublesome for its launch weather acceptability to allow us to launch so that if we had an abort we would come in there.

However, they were also in a go condition for the January 28th time period as predicted by the weather forecast. So the only issue was the temperature, and we asked each of the projects, the Kennedy launch and landing project, the orbiter, the external tank, the solid rocket boosters, and the space shuttle main engines, how they felt about launching with temperatures




as predicted in this Mission Management Team meeting.

And each of them listed the concerns and constraints they might have with temperatures that I have just described. They each did so list, and the one major concern that came out of those lists-and I would be glad to go through those with you, either now or later-is the fact that the launch facility was going to experience cold temperatures, and in fact that could give them problems with their water systems and perhaps some of the other systems on the launch complex.

As has been pointed out in previous testimony, the STS 51-C launch in January of 1985 was attempted on a very cold night, and in fact we did have launch lines break and ice and freezing, and the conditions were such that the launch complex was not able to proceed. It had enough problems that it precluded consideration to proceed with the launch, and so that was a known problem.

Over the ensuing year, a freeze protection plan had been put in place at the Kennedy Space Center to deal with specifically that kind of an issue, so that we could proceed to launch under those conditions.

Kennedy reported in this Mission Management Team meeting that the freeze protection plan was going




to be put in process that dealt with draining the fire X water systems that are up on the fixed structure, the fixed support structure that Charlie Stevenson referred to a few minutes ago.

[1019] They would be drained back to the first shutoff valve and then allowed to dribble, to drain, the way you might do in your home on a cold night to keep water pipes from freezing.

They also said the eye washes and the showers that are up on the fixed support structure would be allowed to drain into their drains to keep them from freezing and bursting, and it is in fact these drains that were allowed to run during the night that caused the ice that we saw in the pictures.

This ice didn't come from the climatic conditions themselves or from an unknown condition. They came in fact from the procedures that were taken intentionally in order to protect the facility and to enable it to do its job to proceed with the countdown.

They also indicated that they would be required to put the antifreeze in the sound suppression water troughs that you've seen pictures of to keep them from forming ice, because ice under the vehicle when it ignites is an issue.

Other issues were discussed with the KSC and with the orbiter and with the SRB and with the ET.




There were no issues on the space shuttle main engines. All of them were thought to be well manageable.

And at the end of that meeting-I should say that I am the chairman of the Mission Management Team meeting. However, when Mr. Moore is in attendance, I make the decisions at that meeting and conduct the meeting, but I yield to him for the final decision. And collectively he, following my recommendation, agreed that we should proceed to tank, with the decision to launch on January 28th.

However, we asked all members at the Mission Management Team meeting to continue to consider and review the situation of the temperatures and to bring any additional issues that arose to our attention.

We then left that meeting, and in mind at that time I was clearly concerned about the ice on the facility as a constraint to launch, because I knew that we would be dealing with that as a problem on the following day, after we had gone through the cold night.

The next input that I had with respect to the conditions at the launch pad came at 11:30 that evening at the motel. There was a call from Larry Mulloy and Stan Reinartz and one of several KSC console operators, and the report that I would make is identical to the one




you heard yesterday.

That is, they discussed the concern with the recovery ships dealing with the high winds. The same winds that had given us the problem for the crosswind at the landing site were causing high seas and the ships were off station.

And Larry discussed how we dealt with that, and I could say some more about that at another time if you would like or now. But my concern was first for the ships and then whether that should be a constraint that would cause us to stop tanking, and I felt we should proceed to tank and we would discuss it at the following day if it was continuing to be an issue.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: At that time, did they tell you that there had been serious concerns expressed by Thiokol and Thiokol engineers, and that they had had a long teleconference on the subject, and that first Thiokol had recommended against launch and secondly management, in the person of Mr. Kilminster, had changed its mind and Thiokol then had decided to recommend launch?

Did you know any of that sequence at all?

[1020] MR. ALDRICH: None of that was discussed, and I did not know until after the 51-L launch that there had been such a meeting.





MR. ALDRICH: However, there was a second concern discussed in that telephone call, and that was really raised by Larry Mulloy, but also by the KSC people who were on the same call with me, and that was that they were beginning to experience the ice that we had expected on the launch pad.

It was not specifically identified at that time as to the various locations, and they knew that that was going to be an issue for them during the night. However, the countdown was proceeding normally at that time.


We had a second call during that morning. We had a call at 3:00 a.m., and that was made to Mr. Richard Kohrs, who is my deputy, who stays in the same motel I do. And that report was to say again that the countdown was proceeding, but that they were one hour behind schedule and they had had problems with the formation of ice and the temperatures of the facility, but the delay was caused in fact by electronics problems with the console.

And they were calling to notify us that everything the next morning would be one hour later than we had all expected.

I arrived at the firing room about 4:30 a.m.




on January 28th, and in fact the countdown was proceeding normally, satisfactorily at least, with no new problems that the ones I just discussed. In fact, the offshore winds had subsided and at that time they had predicted that the recovery ships would be on station and would be able to provide support.

The ice team had been at the launch pad from 1:30 in the morning until 3:00 in the morning to assess this icing condition. They weren't there doing their normal job, looking at the external tank. They were in fact assessing the facility and the launch vehicle in general, because the conditions were different.

They had come back and made a full report to the engineering teams that they report to, and I will tell you who those teams are here in just a minute. They made that full report, however, and that is not a standard time for them to go out. That was a unique inspection and a unique report and a unique set of considerations.

I talked to the launch director at that time when I arrived, and that was in fact the issue we discussed. And we both agreed that the proper thing to do was to let the engineering teams assess what had been found by the earlier ice inspection and to allow the normal T minus three-hour ice inspection to proceed, the




one we do every flight, and get some additional data on the conditions as we came into the daylight time period.

The ice issue that we were concerned about is the one that has been discussed, that is damage from this ice to the thermal protection system of the orbiter, such as it will cause it to have a problem later in flight during the re-entry phase if there is significant damage to the thermal protection system. It is not other issues related to the ice.

I don't know of-I think all of us were talking about that as the singular issue about this icing condition. For most launches, we do send this ice team out to assess the condition, primarily [1021] the external tank, at T minus three hours. In fact, the ice team was created for that purpose very early in the flight program.

We found conditions-we expected there was icing on the tank, and that clearly could be a threat to the orbiter, depending on how it manifested itself and how thick it was, and some very specific plans and procedures and techniques were put in place so that every flight the ice on the tank is inspected and characterized and reported to the engineering teams, assessed, and decisions made.




They have a very detailed process for doing that, much more than we went into here today. The icing starts when you put liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen into the external tank and, depending on the humidity and the temperature and the winds, you can get a wide variety of patterns of ice or no ice on the tank. And having the coldest day doesn't necessarily represent the most concern or issue for the ET.

In fact, this was a particularly good day for the external tank in terms of generating ice on its external surface.

When the ice team finishes their report, they actually can report, as you heard, as they're in process over the loops, and sometimes over television they can make extensive reports while in progress, or they can wait until they come back and report in detail on the loop to the respective engineering teams that are in place.

There is an engineering team in place in Florida in an alternate firing room. It's adjacent to the one that is controlling the launch, and in it are engineering managers for each of the projects: external tank, orbiter, main engines, solid rocket boosters. And they have with them key technical people who are there specifically for analyzing unique problems or possible




failure modes that come up while we're going through a countdown that weren't anticipated as being part of a normal count sequence.

Particularly the orbiter team and the external tank team are well aware of threats from ice and icing, and they listen in detail, as does the Kennedy engineering team, to these reports and determine whether there are concerns and if so how to assess them.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I notice you excluded the boosters in what you just said. You said there was attention paid to the effect on the orbiter and the external tank. Wasn't the same attention paid to the boosters, too?

MR. ALDRICH: I was discussing the way the process worked in the past, and it is probably not different particularly for this countdown. There was not an icing question or concern known to me about icing on the solid rocket boosters. They don't normally form ice.

And in this case, as was reported by Mr. Stevenson, there was some ice found on the skirt of the left SRB, but that was removed by the ice team specifically for the condition I will talk about later. But in a normal launch, it is a concern with the external tank and with the orbiter, and checks for




things like leaks and propellant line interconnections also. But the ice part of the job deals with those two elements of the launch system.

In support of the orbiter team is an engineering team in Houston, in a facility called the mission evaluation room, and back there there is more extensive engineering available to them. They have many of the loops that are available at Kennedy Space Center, or at least some of them, and they also have data live real time from Florida.

[1022] And at certain points during the countdown, they have television. So the key people that are in Florida in this alternate firing room communicate with the orbiter people that are at that location in Houston and in support of the orbiter people in Houston.

I can't remember what Mr. Petrone, what Dr. Petrone or Dr. Glaysher mentioned, but there is in Downey also a mission support team there on engineers at the contractor's facility, that also works with these engineering teams and has data to deal with questions and decisions of an engineering nature.

On the external tank side, there is a support facility in Huntsville called the Huntsville operations support, HOSC, Huntsville operations support center. And there also are key engineers for the external tank,




solid rocket booster, space shuttle main engines, who have live data from Kennedy and have loops from Kennedy so they can communicate in detail.

The ice team reports are made to these engineering teams, and those reports are assessed and issues or lack of issues are determined based upon those assessments.

I sit in the firing room for launches with a number of other key managers who you've talked to and heard about. I sit in a place that is called the operations support room. It is a little comer of the primary firing room that looks down on the firing room.

In there is Mr. Moore, Mr. Mulloy, Mr. Reinartz, Dr. Lucas. I can give you a complete listing of who is there. I am trying to give you a feel for the kind of people who are there. Also Mr. Richard Colonna, who is the orbiter project manager from JSC, is there. In fact, he sits right beside me. Mr. Richard Kohrs is my deputy; he sits beside me. And a number of other people we could go into as you want to find out more about that.

About 8:30 in the morning, about the time that the ice team was returning from the launch pad from their standard inspection, Mr. Colonna, orbiter project manager, reported to me the assessment of the




engineering team was that the icing condition on the launch pad they believed was looking very favorable to proceed with the launch, and they were waiting for the final report of the ice team after they returned from their visit.

But they had been analyzing the previous reports and data and felt quite good about it. However, they also reported that Rockwell might have some concern with that recommendation.

As I previously reported, although the normal channel is for the orbiter contractor, Rockwell, to report to Mr. Colonna, it is what we call Level III, and we have been through quite a lot of that in previous discussions. Mr. Colonna reports to me for the orbiter at the Level II.

My concern about this ice had been going on since 2:00 o'clock the previous day, and I wanted personally to find out what the situation was and to get a detailed feel for it. And so I called what I would refer to as a partial Mission Management Team meeting, told Mr. Colonna that I wanted to review the ice team report and the engineering assessments with respect to it.

And we went out of the firing room area into a conference room that is one floor up in the launch




control center, but very close at hand, and scheduled that meeting for 9:00 o'clock. I believed that that meeting was necessary, not because of the icing conditions that had been assessed that were on the launch vehicle itself, but specifically to deal with the ice that had formed on the fixed service structure and on the mobile launch platform itself

[1023] We convened in that meeting. It was quite a large group of people, and we have not to this date made an effort to identify everyone who was there. There might have been 20 or 30 people. We have identified who the key management people who were there, and I have that listing, and perhaps we will discuss some of them, and I can give you who all of them were.

We started the meeting by having a discussion, a report by the ice team, and Mr. Stevenson, who you have heard from previously this morning, made that report. And he was reporting about specific concerns in three different areas.

One was the launch vehicle, primarily the external tank. Second was the mobile launch platform deck, the deck that the orbiter, that the space shuttle is standing on. And third is the fixed service structure that has the-that goes up one side, the side of the space shuttle, and had much of the ice I was




concerned about on it.

His report I will summarize as follows. His report said the icing conditions on the flight vehicle, primarily the external tank, were okay and they felt there were no concerns in that area. They stated that there had been sheet ice in most of the sound suppression water troughs under the solid rocket boosters and space shuttle main engines, but that ice had been broken up and removed.

They said that the residual ice that was existing in the water troughs and on the MLP deck was okay in their view. That is, there was not very much of it and it was not in the vicinity of the launch vehicle, and they did not believe that either was a threat to the orbiter TPS.

On the fixed service structure, however, the fixed service structure had varying amounts of ice between the 95 foot level and the 215 foot level, and you've seen some pictures of that here this morning. However, there was no ice existing above the 255 foot level.

I say, it had ice, varying ice between 95 feet and 215 feet. Above 255 feet, there was no ice at all. The fixed service structure, north and west sides had very large amounts of ice and icicles. The east




side, toward the orbiter, had significantly less ice.

At that point, we went into a detailed characterization

MR. HOTZ: Excuse me, Mr. Aldrich. Could I interrupt for just a moment. Did Mr. Stevenson at that time report to you anything about the extremely low temperatures they were recording on the solid rocket boosters?

MR. ALDRICH: No, sir, he did not.

MR. HOTZ: Thank you.

MR. ALDRICH: The detailed characteristics of the ice on the fixed service structure were then discussed in quite an amount of detail for all of the team that was assembled. And this was not a telecon at this point; this was the engineering people who were there in Florida, and specifically the director of engineering for Kennedy Space Center was there, Mr. Horace Lamberth; Mr. Richard Colonna, who is the director of the orbiter project, was there.

And there were some other people, and perhaps you would like me to tell you who they were. For the ice team, Mr. Stephenson was there, and in fact his boss is Mr. Lamberth, who was there. From JSC, I was there; Mr. Richard Colonna, the orbiter project manager was there.


[1024] 1833


From Marshall, Cecil Houston, who is the resident manager for the Marshall projects, was there; and also Mr. Davis was there. And from Rockwell, Mr. Cioffoletti and Mr. Glaysher and Mr. Martin was there.

During the course of the discussion, Mr. Jim Kingsbury, who is head of engineering at the Marshall Space Flight Center, came in, but he was not there for the entire discussion. And Mr. Richard Smith, who is the director of the Kennedy Space Center, also came in late in the discussion, but did not hear all of it.

And as I will tell you in a minute, I also placed a telephone call personally to Mr. Thomas Moser, who's the director of engineering at the Johnson Space Center, and discussed some of this situation with him, and I will tell you about that.

Following the discussion of the acceptability of the ice threat to the orbiter, based upon the conditions described in detail of the fixed service structure-and some of that you've seen here portrayed well this morning-I asked the NASA managers involved for their position on what they felt about the threat of that to the orbiter.

Mr. Lamberth reported that KSC engineering had calculated the trajectories, as you've heard, of the falling ice from the fixed service structure east side,




with current ten knot winds at 300 degrees, and predicted that none of this ice would contact the orbiter during its ignition or launch sequence; and that their calculations even showed that if the winds would increase to 15 knots, we still would not have contact with the orbiter.

Mr. Colonna, orbiter project manager, reported that similar calculations had been performed in Houston by the mission evaluation team there. They concurred in this assessment. And further, Mr. Colonna stated that, even if these calculations were significantly in error, that it was their belief that falling ice from the fixed service structure, if it were in fact to make it way to the orbiter, it would only be the most lightweight ice that was in that falling stream, and it would impact the orbiter at a very oblique angle.

Impacts of this type would have very low probability of causing any serious damage to the orbiter, and at most would result in post-flight turn-around repairs.

At this point I placed a phone call to Mr. Moser that I had previously mentioned, director of engineering at the Johnson Space Center, who was in the mission evaluation room, and he confirmed the detailed agreement with Mr. Lamberth and Mr. Colonna's position.




From these discussions-well, let me say, in addition to the discussion-I don't have it in my notes, but I remember it in more detail. We had some discussion of the falling ice, if it would hit the orbiter after it was on the launch pad; was there in fact an issue from that ice coming back up and hitting the orbiter.

And both Mr. Lamberth and Mr. Colonna reported that their assessment was that the time it took for the ice to fall, to hit the orbiter and to rebound, and the location of the fixed service structure on the MLP would not cause that ice in their view to be a concern to rebound and come up and impact the rear end of the orbiter.

Following these discussions, I asked for a position regarding proceeding with the launch. Mr. Colonna, Mr. Lamberth, and Mr. Moser all recommended that we proceed.

At that time, I also polled Mr. Robert Glaysher, the vice president, orbiter project manager, Rockwell International STS division, and Mr. Marty Cioffoletti, shuttle integration project manager, [1025] Rockwell International STS division. Mr. Glaysher stated-and he had been listening to this entire discussion and had not been directly involved with it,




but had been party to this the whole time.

His statement to me as best I can reconstruct it to report to you at this time was that, while he did not disagree with the analysis that JSC and KSC had reported, that they would not give an unqualified go for launch as ice on the launch complex was a condition which had not previously been experienced, and thus this posed a small additional, but unquantifiable, risk. Mr. Glaysher did not ask or insist that we not launch, however.

No other comments or recommendations were offered by the large group assembled with respect to the concern-with respect to concern for proceeding with the launch.

At the conclusion of the above review, I felt reasonably confident that the launch should proceed. However, I was concerned that during the ensuing time period between when the ice team had been out at the launch pad, starting at 6:30, and the time that the launch would occur, now roughly 11:00 or 11:30 in the morning, the conditions at the launch pad might have changed.

Thus, I asked for an additional ice inspection team visit to the pad to be performed as close to launch as possible, to include a full assessment of any




significant changes in icing conditions; for the removal of any additional ice from the MLP deck that might have fallen; and for the removal of any new ice from the water troughs.

At this point, I returned to the operations support room in the launch complex, where I reviewed the context of this meeting with Mr. Jesse Moore, the associate administrator for space flight, who was seated at that time with Mr. Philip Culbertson, the NASA general manager. In that summary, I clearly indicated the qualified position taken by Rockwell International, recommended that the launch proceed unless the ice team identified a significant change in launch pad condition on their final visit to the pad.

The report of the ice team following the final launch pad inspection indicated no significant changes, although several pieces of ice were swept from the MLP deck and some additional ice was removed from the water troughs.

Now, you probably want to ask questions. I have some more I would like to say, too, and I would like to say that with respect to TPS damage, if I could, and perhaps I could say that now, or you might want to interrupt me.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: You're anticipating





MR. ALDRICH: Well, that is part of my rationale.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I want to do it whichever way you want. I guess that you have sort of answered the question that I had in mind. That is, you acknowledge, then, that Rockwell did take a position as described by them this morning, which essentially said that they couldn't assure that it was safe to fly, or another version was it was an unsafe to fly position? Was that your understanding of their position?

MR. ALDRICH: Let me describe that, and that leads into what I wanted to say in addition about the TPS damage. In any discussion of damage to the thermal protection system on the orbiter, there is the implication of safety to the vehicle in flight during the re-entry phase.

[1026] There is also strong implication of damage to the vehicle that is of a repair category, and that damage would be required to be repaired after the orbiter returned. On every flight of the STS system, we have had damage to the orbiter TPS system from various situations during flight, and upon return those repairs have had to be made.

In most instances, they have not been




extensive and they have not interrupted the turn-around. On a few conditions, we had quite significant damage to the TPS and there have been more extensive repairs.

Let me say in fact about TPS damage, early in the program when we first began to fly this system we experienced quite a bit of damage to the bottom of the orbiter from ice from the external tank, and that led to some of these ice team activities that we have talked to you about today and previously.

During the period of the first four to six flights in the program, there was an extensive effort working with the Marshall Space Flight Center to make modifications to the thermal protection system on the external tank, to remove the conditions that created ice by changing the installation, removing certain lines, and finding other ways of mechanization, to give a more complete protection so that ice could not form from the atmosphere during the countdown.

That in fact was a $40 million program and it stretched over a significant period of time. During that period of time, however, we continued to fly the orbiter with those conditions after careful assessment, and continued to experience some damage to the orbiter from tank ice damage to the TPS.




Decisions I think were carefully made at that time about the risks and the choices to proceed were carefully made.

Also, during the early flights we experienced a lot of damage from the launch platform itself from debris and loose items that had been left there, and procedures had to be instituted at Kennedy Space Center for more complete cleanliness of the mobile launch platform area, to be sure there was no debris there of a kind that could come up during the ignition sequence and damage the orbiter.

Again, while those concerns were going on and assessments were made that that had been completed, we still continued to fly the orbiter. And we have had TPS damage that couldn't probably be directly coupled to incomplete cleaning of the launch pad during that time, but might have been precluded by further action later in the program.

In fact, one of those areas, the four holddown posts for each of the solid rocket boosters are covered or were initially in the program covered with a heavy layer of hard rubber to protect those posts from the exhaust of the solid rocket boosters, so that they would not be damaged and would be readily reuseable for the subsequent launches.




And we found that during the early flights much of that rubber-it is a white hard RTV-was being thrown up from the flame pits and impacting the orbiter and causing quite extensive damage. We undertook a program of reduction of those conditions, but initially it was a concern that we could not remove all the RTV, and we went through a series of taking off more and more of the RTV and seeing how much damage was still-or how much debris was still created.

During the time that we were flying with RTV still on those holddown posts, we did not delay or defer shuttle launches. We carefully assessed the damage and made determinations [1027] that what we were seeing was acceptable to proceed, although we had post-flight TPS damage repair.

GENERAL KUTYNA: Arnie, can I interrupt just a second? You mentioned this rubber that covers the holddown posts, and on launch this stuff bounces up and could possibly hit the orbiter. Why do you rule out the possibility that the springs that we lost on the holddown posts, which are in the same place, didn't bounce up and hit something?

MR. ALDRICH: Well, I will get to that. That is a good question and it follows directly what I was going to say next.




What I was going to say next was, eventually we did remove all of the rubber, because we continued to see this material coming up on our pictures and continued to have orbiter TPS damage, some of which you know exactly what it comes from and some you aren't sure.

And so we instituted the trap doors that have been talked about earlier, the doors on the top of the holddown posts, so that when the solid rocket clears the door will flap down and the booster rocket plume will impinge on the top of the door instead of on the holddown post.

And the change for the springs and the plungers that we talked about earlier were a recent addition to those trap doors, and they have been lost during this 51-L launch and that has been a concern of our investigation or our analysis of things that could have contributed to the problem, to the STS 51-L launch.

GENERAL KUTYNA: So you haven't ruled them out, is that what you're saying.?

MR. ALDRICH: I have personally not ruled them out. Now, I'm not directly involved in the task force currently and not day to day current with what all of our analysis shows, but that is one of the items that is




in work at KSC in their engineering department.


CHAIRMAN ROGERS: As you go through this history, which is interesting but a little bit beside the point for the moment

MR. ALDRICH: I'm sorry.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: That's all right. I don't want to prevent you from giving it to us. But has there ever been a time when a prime contractor or any other contractor voiced objections to the launch when you went ahead and overruled them?


CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Maybe "overruled" isn't a fair word, but where you went ahead notwithstanding the objection of the prime contractor in this case.

MR. ALDRICH: My interpretation of the input that was made to me in the Mission Management Team meeting that I described is that a concern was voiced, and it was not an objection to launch. And I think the people that were in that meeting from Rockwell intended to offer me that concern, but they did not intend to ask me not to launch.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, we will get to that. That is, when you finish.

It seems to me that that is, at least to me,




the important point. If the decision making process is such that the prime contractor think she objected and says, testified under oath that they took a position that it was unsafe to launch, and you say, that was not our understanding, that shows us serious deficiencies in the process.

[1028] MR. ALDRICH: Well, let me explain to you, while I'm talking about these previous TPS damages, what I'm going to lead up to was a discussion of another condition we had on the external tank this past year, here several of the external tanks had material coming off them, their insulation material, and damaging the orbiter during the launch phase.

And that was of great concern to the program, and corrective actions were taken. But we continued to fly with tanks with that condition, with the repair fix. And during those discussions and discussions on the previous conditions I talked about that have led to damage to the orbiter TPS, the Rockwell team has been involved in all of those discussions. They have been extremely and rightly conservative about the risk to the orbiter because of these kinds of debris.

And in my past experience in working these problems directly with Rockwell, they have taken positions very similar to the ones that-the one that




they reported this morning with respect to whether we should proceed with a known potential for debris on past flights.

None of those have been that close to launch as the one that we're talking about here on STS 51-L, but I feel both the nature of the threat and the risk-that is, is it safety or is it turnaround damage-and the kind of input that Rockwell made in that meeting, that is, we have a concern, we can't be completely sure that it's going to be satisfactory, but it is your decision, is consistent with the way that they reported to me in the past.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: That's fine. Why don't you go ahead, because I think it would be helpful if you could give some examples of cases where Rockwell has been too conservative and you've gone ahead anyway. I think that is very relevant, so why don't you proceed.

MR. ALDRICH: Well, you said too conservative. I think it is appropriate for Rockwell to be conservative.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, you expressed the view that on previous occasions they had been what appeared to you to be conservative and expressed their views, and then you went ahead anyway. I say those experiences would be very relevant to our discussion here today, I





MR. ALDRICH: Well, I have been describing some of the experiences, and it would be impossible for me to recall the specific conversations from one, two, and three years ago. The most recent is the one in fact where, on a series of four or five external tanks, the thermal insulation around the inner tank-it is the structure between the oxygen tank and the hydrogen tank-in fact had large divots of insulation coming off and impacting the orbiter.

We found significant amount of damage to one orbiter after a flight and weren't sure where it came from. And on the subsequent flight we had a camera in the equivalent of the wheel well which took a picture of the tank after separation, and we determined that this was in fact the cause of the damage.

At that time, we wanted to be able to proceed with the launch program if it was acceptable and utilize the tanks that were in Florida, that were built with the same configuration. And so we undertook discussions of what would be acceptable in terms of potential field repairs.

And during those discussions, Rockwell was very conservative because, rightly, damage to the orbiter TPS is damage to the orbiter system, and it has




a very stringent environment to experience during the re-entry phase.

[1029] And I can't say more specifically direct correlation between their reports to me on the morning of the 51-L launch and what was said in the activities leading up to those earlier launches, and for those earlier launches Rockwell definitely gave a go for launch at the flight readiness, at the L minus one review, following more lengthy deliberations than perhaps we were able to have during the morning of the 51-L launch.

But it was a very familiar kind of a report and discussion to me.

DR. WALKER: How large were these pieces of material that came off of the external tank?

MR. ALDRICH: The external tank, some of them were quite big. And it is fairly dense material. And maybe I shouldn't say that. We ought to have a specific report to tell you the density. Some of it is not dense.

There are quite large pieces.

DR. WALKER: Well, a foot square or how big?

MR. ALDRICH: Half a foot square or a foot by half a foot, and some of them much smaller and localized to a specific area, but fairly high up on the tank. So




they had a good shot at the orbiter underbelly, and that is where we had the damage.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I just want to express a personal unhappiness with this development, because we have been dealing with NASA now for some time, two or three weeks, and we asked everyone to be forthright, to tell us anything that they knew that might relate to this in any way, whether it was damaging or not.

And I-maybe through some fault of the Commission, we hadn't heard about Rockwell's position until a few days ago. And I'm a little surprised that that wasn't volunteered, because certainly they are the prime contractor and their testimony this morning, whether you accept it exactly as stated or not, still is very significant testimony.

I'm really surprised and disappointed that we didn't know about it earlier.

MR. ALDRICH: Mr. Chairman, I've discussed this subject of the ice team with the Commission on three occasions.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But not about Rockwell's position.

MR. ALDRICH: On the second occasion in the Executive Office Building, on the first closed hearing, I, in fact, reviewed in much briefer summary this meeting,




and I believe you asked if someone from Rockwell International had expressed a concern with the launch, and I reported the situation precisely so. That is, Rockwell had a concern with that issue.

And I believe General Kutyna

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I reread it and I didn't get the impression that they had taken as strong a position as they did. And maybe I will reread it again.

MR. ALDRICH: I intended to convey it exactly in the manner I have done here. Of course, we did not put that amount of time on the subject in that meeting.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Going back to their testimony, do you accept the testimony they gave as factually correct, or is your position that they waffled more than they suggested this morning?.

MR. ALDRICH: I don't recall such an extensive discussion of safety as was reported this morning. However, I will fully admit what I said earlier, and that is any discussion of damage to the TPS has to be considered in the context of safety.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Try to state what you thought their position was.

[1030] MR. ALDRICH: I tried to do that and I tried carefully to reconstruct that, and I will say it again. And Mr. Glaysher made the statement when I polled him at




the end of the meeting, and I thought the first statement that I believe he made represented a key input to me in this regard.

I've just described for you the assessment that KSC and JSC engineering reported on their feelings about the situation at the launch pad, and Mr. Glaysher reported that he did not disagree with the KSC and the JSC analysis, which they drew the conclusion to recommend go.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Did you think that meant that he agreed with the go position?

MR. ALDRICH: No, sir. I thought that meant that they did not have any additional factual material or hard analysis that could contribute to a better understanding of the situation, and I think that is what they reported this morning.

DR. RIDE: Did you have an assessment from the Rockwell engineering group out at Downey?

MR. ALDRICH: I did not have an assessment from the Rockwell group at Downey. However, Mr. Moser reported that he had been in contact with the Rockwell group at Downey. And in understanding how those organizations operate, I fully believed that the JSC organization would fully reflect and understand any specific issues that were represented in the Downey




mission support room.

DR. RIDE: So you had the impression that the Downey engineering position was in concert with JSC's engineering position?

MR. ALDRICH: I had the impression that on any specific data that could be presented or discussed or calculations made, that there was no disagreement and that this was a question of judgment and a question of decision on the launch, which I felt was my decision.

And I would like to have the opportunity some time to describe some of the other launch decisions which we are required to make each flight with respect to weather and threats to the orbiter vehicle in flight, because I consider this to be a very similar kind of an issue.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: The report included some concern about unknowns of aspiration. Would you clarify your own thinking, which I understand aspiration has to do with airs or flows that are induced because of the engine exhaust?

MR. ALDRICH: I may have missed the discussion of aspiration in that meeting. To my knowledge, the discussion on drawing ice into the orbiter and SRB plume at ignition was discussed in the context of drawing ice from the MLP deck into the orbiter, and that led very




clearly to the situation of how much ice there would be on deck and where it would be located, and the conclusion of the ice assessment teams that the ice had been removed and my reaction that we should go back to check and see if no more ice had fallen or was in a threatening location to the orbiter.

The specific term "aspiration" and that consideration I don't recall being addressed as an issue in that meeting.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: If I could ask one other question. The amount of ice that we saw on the pictures, which was a result of the freeze protection system implementation, seemed an unusually large amount.

[1031] I don't have any other experience that leads me to understand why that happened. Was that freeze protection system carefully analyzed and designed, and did you expect this amount of ice, and didn't the facility in its original design have the ability to handle some of that ice?

MR. ALDRICH: Apparently the facility in the original design did not have protection for this kind of consideration, although it may have been intended, and I think the freeze protection plan that was put into place was expected to be able to handle the conditions with much




less free water than was found as a result of going through that experience for the first time under real conditions.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Perhaps I should make my question more specific. It would seem that to keep the pipes unfrozen reasonably small amounts of water are required, even though I recognize these are large pipes. But if there were large amounts of water required to keep from freezing, you would think there would be some kind of containment and two lines, hoses, or that sort of thing. And was the freeze plan not incorporating those kinds of things or were they not implemented?

MR. ALDRICH: I was not a party to the development of the freeze protection plan, nor understanding really how well it would work. We did ask that one be put in the program. That was accomplished and, as you point out, it does not appear to be the kind of a complete program that you would like to see for these kind of conditions.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Aldrich, I think in fairness to everybody, particularly to you, because I may have overstated what happened in executive session, let me read it.

Dr. Ride said: "Well, I guess the question is




whether at the end of the meeting Rockwell was saying, we don't want to launch."

And I said: "That is exactly it. If Rockwell comes up in a public session and says, we advised NASA not to launch and they went ahead anyway, then we have got a hell of a problem." And I guess I shouldn't have said that.

But on the other hand, if there is no dispute about the facts and it is conveyed to everybody and everybody, after consideration, everybody agreed to it-and then Dr. Wheelon said, "What position did Rockwell take?"

And your answer was: "Everyone at that meeting-and I just told you who they were, Kennedy facility people at the meeting-everyone in that meeting voted strongly to proceed and said they had no dissent, except for Rockwell. The comment 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 they had no experience base launching in that exact configuration before and therefore they thought we had some additional risk of orbiter damage from ice that 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 signoff at that point. It was not maybe 20 minutes, but it was close to that. It was in the last hour of launch. But they still objected. They issued what I would call a concern, a less than 100 percent concurrence in the launch.

And you indicated "less than 100 percent concurrence. 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."

[1032] Now, I guess that is a fair statement of-well, I know it is an accurate statement of the testimony that was given, and I think it states your position a little better than I stated it a moment ago.

Is that your recollection of the testimony?

MR. ALDRICH: Yes, sir. And of course, that was my first discussion of that meeting in that context.


MR. ALDRICH: Mr. Chairman, I don't want to take more time at this time if it's not your pleasure, but I would also like to describe for you at some other




point the other kinds of decisions I have had to make during the last six launches in terms of marginal conditions and weather threats to the orbiter in flight, and how I believe this kind of a decision couples rather closely to the kind of decisions that I have to make for launching with rain clouds in the area, launching with the potential for low ceilings or crosswinds at the RTLS landing site and overseas.

And in my mind, what I did in this regard was my responsibility, and I executed it in the same manner as I have on other flights for other conditions. They were also a threat and also marginally acceptable or unacceptable, based upon specific assessment of the conditions at the time.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I think you will remember that we said at some of our other meetings that we recognize the difficulty of your position and we respect it and respect you. So that our questioning is really not directed to that.

Our questioning is directed to the process. Does everybody know what everybody else is recommending? Does everybody have the facts? And obviously, your interpretation of what Rockwell said this morning is somewhat different than Rockwell's interpretation of what they said.




MR. ALDRICH: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: That is the part that is very troublesome. I mean, nobody-I don't think anybody questions the terrible responsibility you have, you and Jess Moore have, to make the decisions. But we are very seriously concerned about whether everybody has the facts available that they should have.

MR. ALDRICH: Could I say one more point in that regard?


MR. ALDRICH: One of the other reasons that I asked for an additional ice team inspection is that I had in my own mind that there was some concern expressed in this meeting and I wanted to give the team time to think further about what we were proceeding to do and doing.

And as I have said previously, I have worked with the Rockwell team closely for a number of years and I fully expected that I would receive a call from one of the key officials at Rockwell if they felt that my decision, based upon the kind of input they gave me, was a problem to them.

When the situation has been reversed on previous launches, I felt free to call Downey, California, and talk to a key official there to get him




to tell me directly his opinion when I thought there was some question in a decision. And I would think that it was more than reasonable that, if someone were still concerned that this was a very bad judgment or a bad action to take, that they would call me. And I left every opportunity for that to happen.

[1033] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I suppose it is unfair to ask you, but suppose that call had been made. Is it conceivable you might have changed your mind?

MR. ALDRICH: If Rockwell had told me that they were no go, I would have reported to you in the same manner that George Hardy reported in discussion. I would not have overruled a no go discussion from the Rockwell team.


VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: It might be appropriate to get this on the record, Arnie. There has been a lot of discussion about the launch time and its appropriateness, and we heard in testimony this morning that the ice team felt that it would be advantageous to launch as early as possible. And we've heard in previous testimony that some people were supporting the idea of launching later in the day, at higher temperatures.

Could you just review for us what the general




nature of the launch window was for 51-L and what your considerations were in selecting a time within that launch window?

MR. ALDRICH: The 51-L had a three hour launch window. It was really constrained by the amount of time that we could go through the whole process of putting the crew in the cabin and having them wait through the count and then wait through the hold. And so we established a time of 9:30 to 12:30 in the morning.

I mentioned the problem they had at Kennedy Space Center early in the morning that lost them an hour, and so our window then became 10:30 to 12:30. And during the course of the morning, informally there were some discussions about how rapidly the conditions were warming and that it might be warmer during the day at noon than we predicted, and perhaps launching at the end of the launch window would be the most opportune time because we would have more melting opportunity.

Following this meeting which I discussed on reviewing the ice, I did get the input from Mr. Davis that there was a feeling of the ice team that perhaps melting was not going to be good and you might get more material to fall and be down at the bottom of the FSS and that we should proceed to launch as quickly as possible.




I wanted to proceed with the final ice inspection, and also because of the delays we incurred we put the IMU's back into a recalibration sequence, which takes an hour. And so the earliest time we could launch, based upon that discussion, was 11:30 a.m. And we would have had the option to go to 12:30 and had more melting if we had chosen to, but we did not.

The ice team did finish in that amount of time. And the only other thing I ought to say about that, it was discussed earlier that Jess Moore was in that discussion, and I don't believe that was brought to his attention, but if so only casually.

I discussed the exact time of launch with the launch director.

MR. HOTZ: Mr. Aldrich, are we correct in assuming that in all of this discussion of temperature and delay until late in the afternoon or whenever, there was no discussion of the considerations of temperature on the seals of the solid rocket booster?

MR. ALDRICH: No, sir. Up until the events following SITS 51-L, I was not aware of temperature concern with the solid rocket booster seams or seals.

MR. HOTZ: Thank you.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: If I could get back to the launch window, was there a requirement to have


[1034] 1861


Dakar in daylight, and what set the thing to be 9:30 to 12:30? Was it TDRS considerations?

MR. ALDRICH: I think it was crew duration and crew day. We had lights at Dakar and that was 90, but we could not go later in the day because of the schedule we had set the launch crew and the flight crew on. There is a limit of the amount of time that we agree that they will stay in the cockpit in the position they were in, and I think that is what ended at 12:30.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: I guess what I'm getting at is, couldn't it have been 12:00 to 3:00?

MR. ALDRICH: It could have been if we had planned it much earlier in the day. The launch team, of course, plans the countdown. They are in the countdown. They are in the countdown with a series of holds, but they pick up the count and proceed to tank the launch vehicle based on a given launch time.

And also, several days before launch we put the flight crew on the sleep-wake cycle that supports them to be in the right configuration for launch that day and do a full work day in orbit. We would have been able to go a three hour launch window in the afternoon if we had set that in motion several days prior to that time.

But you couldn't change in the middle of the




night and say, well, we will just adjust them around by some number of hours, because there are too many constraints and additional problems that that creates.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Aldrich, you said that, in referring to previous flights, that Rockwell had been conservative in your opinion in some of their discussions. In this case there were the worst ice conditions, I guess we have heard testified, on the launch facility. Have they ever said no go before and then you have overruled them or gone ahead anyway?

MR. ALDRICH: No, there has never been a time when Rockwell said no go and we have overruled them and gone anyway. There have been times when they have said no go and we have agreed with them.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Say something less than no go? Has there ever been a time when they expressed concern of the type expressed here and you have gone ahead anyway?

MR. ALDRICH: This is a unique kind of discussion with Rockwell, I think. I don't recall an equivalent situation. Some of these other activities we have with respect to launch weather with other parts of the team, the launch team in Houston, and the weather people, we frequently have discussions about the weather conditions and their threat and their potential for




violating a rule or not a rule, and you get the same sort of a qualification on an acceptability from one area or another about whether they feel the launch is a good choice.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Okay. Any other questions?

(No response.)

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Suppose we take a recess until 2:00 o'clock.

(Whereupon, at 12:50 p.m., the hearing in the above-entitled matter was recessed, to reconvene at 2:00 p.m. the same day.)





(2:15 p.m.)


CHAIRMAN ROGERS: The Commission will come to order, please.

[1035] Mr. Lucas.

(Witness sworn.)






CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Lucas, would you identify yourself, please.

DR. LUCAS: Yes, sir, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission.

I am the director of the Marshall Space Flight Center, located in Huntsville, Alabama. I have been director there for about eleven and a half years. Prior to that time I was deputy director, and prior to that I was director of an element called program development, devoted to the feasibility studies and the development of new programs. I have had about 34 years of experience in rocketry and space flight.

The Marshall Space Flight Center as an institution reports to the associate administrator, office of space flight. But we do work various projects for each of the other four associate administrators, program associate administrators, and headquarters. We have assigned to the center some six or seven major projects and several others, 35 or 40 smaller projects.

We implement those projects by the delegation of authority to program managers, senior program managers, who are held accountable by the director of




the center for the exercise of their programs.

One of the programs that we have, of course, is the space shuttle programs that have been under discussion here, specifically the external tank, the space shuttle main engine, and the solid rocket booster.

Is that adequate, sir?

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Yes. Thank you.

And Mr. Reinartz and Mr. Hardy and Mr. Mulloy all work for you?

DR. LUCAS: Well, in a fashion they do. Mr. Reinartz is the only one of the three who reports directly to me. Mr. Mulloy reports to Mr. Reinartz. Mr. Hardy is the deputy director of the science and engineering directorate and as such reports to Mr. Jim Kingsbury, who is the director of that directorate. That is the directorate that contains the preponderance of our engineering talent.

It serves as our in-house engineering arm that is applied across the various programs assigned to the center.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Do you have a prepared statement?

DR. LUCAS: No, sir, I do not.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: All right. Well, we wanted




to ask-the Commission wanted to ask a few questions, particularly relating to the testimony that was given yesterday and some today.

Would you please tell the Commission when you first heard about the problem of the 0-rings and the seals insofar as it involves launch 51-L? And I don't want you to go way back, but go back to when you first heard. I guess it was on January 27th, was it?

DR. LUCAS: Yes, sir. It was on the early evening of the 27th, I think about 7 p.m., when I was in my motel room along with Mr. Kingsbury. And about that time, Mr. Reinartz and Mr. Mulloy came to my room and told me that they had heard that some members of Thiokol had [1036] raised a concern about the performance of the solid rocket boosters in the low temperature that was anticipated for the next day, specifically on the seals, and that they were going out to the Kennedy Space Center to engage in a telecon with the appropriate engineers back at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville and with corresponding people back at the Wasatch division of Thiokol in Utah.

And we discussed it a few moments and I said, fine, keep me informed, let me know what happens.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And when was the next time you heard something about that?




DR. LUCAS: The next time was about 5:00 a.m. on the following morning, when I went to the Kennedy Space Center and went to the launch control center. I immediately saw Mr. Reinartz and Mr. Mulloy and asked them how the matter of the previous evening was dispositioned.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: You had heard nothing at all in between?

DR. LUCAS: No, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So from 8:00 o'clock that evening until 5:00 o'clock in the morning, you had not heard a thing?

DR. LUCAS: It was about 7:00, 1 believe, sir. But for that period of time, I heard nothing in the interim.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Were you familiar with the concerns that had been expressed in the previous year, and in fact previous years, I guess, about that problem?

DR. LUCAS: I was not informed of the temperature problem. I had been aware of a problem with the seals on the solid rocket motor-that is, the case joint seals-since the beginning of the program. I believe it was in STS 2 where we first had some evidence of either minor erosion or blow-by in the seal, and then




subsequently we have had that repeated several times. I think it is about six times in the case of the case joints, and maybe 15 or 16 times in the case of the nozzle joint.

And that has been considered and dispositioned on each and every succeeding flight readiness review. So I am familiar with that part and have never considered the seals, however, a safety of flight issue.

There was a less than the best situation, but in no case that I am aware of have we ever had any penetration or perforation of the seals.

About April of last year, I think it was, April of 1985, when we had the erosion on the secondary nozzle seal, is when we became very concerned because that followed, it seemed to be-I think it was the only time, in fact, in the program we have had that, and so we did become concerned and began to accelerate ways of improving, increasing the margin that we have on that seal.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Lucas, I'm surprised you hadn't heard about the safety questions that have been raised about the seal until April of the year before.

DR. LUCAS: No, sir, if I said that I misspoke. I said I had never considered it a threat to




the safety of flight. I was aware that the seals were Criticality 1 in terms of the program, as well as many other things. But I had never considered the seals as a threat to flight safety, because I thought adequate margin was available.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Were you familiar with SRB critical items lists that were signed on December 17th, 1982?

[1037] DR. LUCAS: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And didn't that indicate to you that there was a serious problem of flight safety?

DR. LUCAS: It indicated to me that if-as I understood the CIL, it indicated to me that if we had a failure of the primary O-ring after the rotation of the joint and the secondary O-ring had not-had opened up and didn't seal, that there would be a problem.

But never in our experience that I'm aware of had that happened.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, I was just commenting on your testimony you never considered it as a matter of flight safety. It seems to me the critical items list and the waiver goes directly to that. It says "actual loss, loss of mission, vehicle and crew due to metal erosion, burnthrough, and probable case burst, resulting in fire and deflagration."




I mean, I don't see how you could say that didn't involve flight safety.

DR. LUCAS: Well, if it happened it would involve flight safety. My conception was that it was a reasonable risk to take in Criticality 1.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Why did they remove the R from that Criticality 1 list?

DR. LUCAS: As I understand it, the reason they removed Criticality 1 is that they discovered, after doing the structural tests, that there was a rotation of this joint which would lift or remove the pressure on the primary and perhaps secondary seal after about 300 or 400 milliseconds, when at any rate, when we had built up to the ignition pressure or full pressure within the rocket motor itself.

As I understand that CIL as it has been explained to me and as I have read it, I believe that it is still Criticality 1R until ignition occurs, after which it becomes a Criticality 1.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, when they took off the "R" from that, what was the rationale?

DR. LUCAS: The rationale was, as I understand it, the recognition that after ignition and the buildup of pressure in the solid rocket motor that there was a rotation of the joint that could remove the redundancy,




and therefore after that time it was Criticality 1.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But the redundancy was removed, as I read this, and I think it is accurate, that whoever did this was of the view that the redundancy was not going to be available on this joint.

Now, I don't think it makes all that much difference whether it's the first second or the second second or the tenth second. The fact was that the Criticality 1 was the way it was listed. It was not Criticality 1R. Isn't that so?

DR. LUCAS: I don't think so, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, let's go back. What was the condition before this change? What was it called, Criticality IR? And now, what did that mean?

DR. LUCAS: That meant that one had a redundant seal throughout the whole period of flight.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Now, when you take off the "R" as they did here, what does that mean to you?

DR. LUCAS: Well, if you only looked at the 1 versus the 1R, it would mean it's Criticality But if you read-

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, let's just stick to that. That is the change, as I understand it, that was made, and I think that it was construed to mean that there was no redundant seal after this change was made.


[1038] 1873


One was Criticality 1R and then the change was made and the "R" was removed.

Now, doesn't that suggest that whoever made this decision was of the view that you didn't have redundancy on that seal?

DR. LUCAS: That is not the understanding of the people who were preparing this, I believe, and it is not my understanding from reading. My understanding from reading it is that one still maintained 1R until after ignition.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So what happens after ignition? Then there's no redundancy, is there?

DR. LUCAS: No, sir. But what the experience has been, that after the seal has extruded into that gap of about one-eighth of an inch, I believe, there has never been any problem that I'm aware of, never. The erosion that has occurred on the seal has not happened, to my knowledge, except on that portion of the O-ring that is not extruded into that joint.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, I guess, if I understand your testimony, that the decision that was made to take the redundancy off this seal really was meaningless. There was no change at all, according to your testimony.

DR. LUCAS: No, sir, that is not what I mean




to imply at all. It is Criticality 1, as I understand it, after ignition, after the ignition transient has occurred.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So after ignition there's no redundancy, right?

DR. LUCAS: That's the way I understand it, after the ignition transient and you have built up to chamber pressure.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, after ignition then there is no redundancy.?

DR. LUCAS: Well, if you define the ignition as being after what is built up, the pressure in the chamber-this was discussed by people who know far more about it than I do, and they indicate that during the first 200, 300 milliseconds, one is building up the pressure very gradually, and you get up to a point at which the pressure is sufficient to extrude the O-ring into the seal, and then it seals.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Were you here yesterday when Mr. Sutter asked questions and he said that it was clear from his standpoint that this was a very tender joint and it had been so considered by NASA for three years? Do you disagree with that?

DR. LUCAS: Well, I don't know what his meaning of "tender" is. I would agree that




CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, put it this way: It's dangerous. I mean, you started out saying you didn't consider this a flight safety problem. It seems to me from all the testimony that we have received so far there is a very serious flight safety problem. You don't agree with that?

DR. LUCAS: I think it is a problem, and that when we understood the principal nature of the problem about a year ago in April, that we undertook immediately to correct. But when I said I didn't think it was a problem, had I believed it was a serious risk I would never have agreed to committing to flight. And I, along with all the other people, the senior people in the agency, did commit to flights after STS No. 2, with the problem that it was experienced on that vehicle.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Beginning in April 1985, did you then begin to think it was a problem of flight safety?

[1039] DR. LUCAS: I did not think it was a problem sufficient to ground the fleet. I thought it was a problem more serious than I had thought earlier.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Of course you didn't, apparently, because you continued to fly. But didn't you think it was a serious problem, so that if the weather conditions were different and a lot of people




sounded alarms, that that would have caused you to have some concern about the safety of the flight?

DR. LUCAS: Well, if many people sounded alarms, that's true. But I was not aware of the alarms that had been sounded, that we have heard testified this week. That was completely new information to me.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And if you had heard those alarms you would have been concerned about flight safety, I presume, wouldn't you?

DR. LUCAS: If I had heard the alarms that have been expressed in this room this week before the flight, I certainly would have been concerned, yes, sir. That is right.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And you heard Mr. Reinartz say he didn't think he had to notify you, or did he notify you?

DR. LUCAS: He told me, as I testified, when I went into the control room, that an issue had been resolved, that there were some people at Thiokol who had a concern about the weather, that that had been discussed very thoroughly by the Thiokol people and by the Marshall Space Flight Center people, and it had been concluded agreeably that there was no problem, that he had a recommendation by Thiokol to launch and our most knowledgeable people and engineering talent agreed with





So from my perspective, I didn't have-I didn't see that as an issue.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And if you had know that Thiokol engineers almost to a man opposed the flight, would that have changed your view?

DR. LUCAS: I'm certain that it would.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So your testimony is the same as Mr. Hardy's: Had he known, he would not have recommended the flight be launched on that day.

DR. LUCAS: I didn't make a recommendation one way or the other. But had I known that, I would have then interposed an objection, yes.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I gather you didn't tell Mr. Aldrich or Mr. Moore what Mr. Reinartz had told you?

DR. LUCAS: No, sir. That is not the reporting channel. Mr. Reinartz reports directly to Mr. Aldrich. In a sense, Mr. Reinartz informs me as the institutional manager of the progress that he is making in implementing his program, but that I have never on any occasion reported to Mr. Aldrich.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And you had subsequent conversations with Mr. Moore and Mr. Aldrich prior to the flight and you never mentioned what Mr. Reinartz had told you?




DR. LUCAS: I did not mention what Mr. Reinartz told me, because Mr. Reinartz had indicated to me there was not an issue, that we had a unanimous position between Thiokol and the Marshall Space Flight Center, and there was no issue in his judgment, nor in mine as he explained it to me.

[1040] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But had you known, your attitude would have been totally different?

DR. LUCAS: Had I had the advantage at that time of the testimony that I have heard here this week, I would have had a different attitude, certainly.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: In view of the fact that you were running tests to improve the joint, didn't the fact that the weather was so bad and Reinartz had told you about the questions that had been raised by Thiokol, at least, didn't that cause you serious concern?

DR. LUCAS: I would have been concerned if Thiokol had come in and said, we don't think you should launch because we've got bad weather.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, that's what they did, of course, first. That is exactly what they did. You didn't know that?

DR. LUCAS: I knew only that Thiokol had raised a concern.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Did you know they came and




recommended against the launch, is the question.

DR. LUCAS: I knew that I was told on the morning of the launch that the initial position of some members of Thiokol-and I don't know who it was-had recommended that one not launch with the temperature less than 53 degrees Fahrenheit.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And that didn't cause you enough concern so you passed that information on to either Mr. Moore or Mr. Aldrich?

DR. LUCAS: No, sir, because I was shown a document signed by Mr. Kilminster that indicated that that would not be significant, that the temperature would not be-that it would be that much lower, as I recall it.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Did you see the document telefaxed?

DR. LUCAS: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What in the telefax convinced you not to mention it to anybody?

DR. LUCAS: The whole document says that the assessment is that if the primary seal-well, let me see. It says: "Morton Thiokol recommends proceeding on January the 28th, 1986. SRM 25 will not be significantly different that SRM 15"-which was the one that we had launched approximately one year





CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Did you see, though, that they said: "The temperature data was not conclusive on predicting primary O-ring blow-by."

DR. LUCAS: Yes, sir. I saw that. I had a little trouble with the term "conclusive." I think as it was explained to me, "conclusive" might not have been the word, but "consistent."

I saw, as I recall it, three data points: one at about 100 degrees, another at 50 degrees, and I think 75 degrees. And the way this was explained to me was that the erosion had not been a function of temperature in a consistent way.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Do you know how they happened to show this telefax to you?

DR. LUCAS: When I asked what had been the resolution of the concern.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So you knew then that the original recommendation was not to launch by Thiokol?

DR. LUCAS: I knew that some members of Thiokol, I don't know who, had expressed reservation against launch.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Didn't you ask who?

DR. LUCAS: No, sir, I did not, because I did not know the Thiokol people well enough to make a


[1041] 1881



I do know Mr. Kilminster. Mr. Kilminster is the person who participates or has participated in all of our flight readiness reviews. He is a man I respect and believe to represent the position of Thiokol. I had no reason to question that.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Nobody told you that the engineering group was as a whole, was against the launch?

DR. LUCAS: No, sir. No one told me that. As a matter of fact, I didn't know that until this week. I, in previous testimony before this Commission, I got the impression that a substantial number of the people were opposed to the launch. I heard this week that all of the engineers virtually were.

But that was information that I did not have.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And who gave you this telefax?

DR. LUCAS: This particular copy I have, or who showed it to me?


DR. LUCAS: It was I believe Mulloy. I'm not sure whether it was Mulloy or Reinartz. Both of them were there, and I think it was Mulloy who showed it to me.




CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Did he indicate how long it took them to talk this over and finally come up with this telefax?

DR. LUCAS: I don't know that he said specifically, and I can't say now whether I gained that subsequently or at that time. I was of the opinion that it took a substantial amount of discussion, which is not surprising.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And you know, I guess, based upon the testimony, had it not been for this telefax that flight would have been delayed?

DR. LUCAS: You say do I know that? No, sir, I don't know that.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, Mr. Hardy said that if he had known what the engineers had recommended unanimously, he would not have recommended the launch.

DR. LUCAS: In that context, then, I think that that is correct. As director of the center, I have to rely upon my experts, and I consider Thiokol to be the expert in solid rocket motors. And I have great respect for Mr. Hardy and the engineers who work with him, and when those two groups agree then I don't have a basis for recognizing an issue.




CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, I guess as we pointed out yesterday, an argument could be made maybe because of this piece of paper that Mr. Reinartz; lived up to the book, but there was no application, as far as you can tell, of common sense. I mean, this obviously was a very serious matter, and by insisting that this piece of paper was giving everybody the blessing of Thiokol, the fact was that the top people who made the decision never knew about what happened in this long telecon and didn't know that the decision to launch, recommending a launch was made really by just a couple of people, Mr. Kilminster and Mr. Mason, and maybe one other.

I mean, the fourth gentleman, Mr. Lund, said he was in a position where he couldn't prove that it was not safe, and therefore he put on his management hat and changed his mind.

So this piece of paper which really resulted in the launch was made by just a couple of people, and apparently none of you gentlemen knew about it.

DR. LUCAS: I did not know that it was made by a couple of people. As I said, I recognized Mr. Kilminster as the senior Thiokol individual for the space booster programs.

[1042] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, maybe I am a little-maybe I am not being conservative enough.




It was Mr. Kilminster, Mr. Mason, Mr. Wiggins, and I think the fourth one was Mr. Lund, but Mr. Lund said-well, I will read you what he said because I think it illustrates the whole problem.

Here's his testimony. Mr. Lund said, and this is his testimony, "we got ourselves into the thought process that we were trying to find some way to prove to them," that is, NASA, "that it wouldn't work. We were unable to do that. We couldn't prove absolutely that it wouldn't work. That is the kind of boat we got ourselves into that evening."

That was his testimony.

DR. LUCAS: Yes, sir, I heard that testimony, but that was testimony that I had this week. I didn't know that at the time. I have never had any reason to suspect that the representation of Mr. Kilminster was not a carefully considered company position taking advantage of all the expertise that Thiokol had. I have never found it necessary to poll Thiokol to say now, Mr. Kilminster, did everybody agree with you? I have assumed as a responsible manager he did have sufficient agreement to justify a position.

MR. HOTZ: Dr. Lucas, did you know that Mr. Kilminster earlier had formally recommended against launch and then had reversed his position?




DR. LUCAS: The testimony, I heard was that based upon the engineering evaluation or some engineering evaluation where the engineer says we don't propose to launch if the temperature is less than 53, that Mr. Kilminster said, well, I can't go against my engineering and something to the effect, let us now have a caucus and discuss this.

It is not unusual in our system for one or more engineers to raise a concern and then have those concerns discussed and threshed out.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Lucas, that's not the testimony, though. The testimony was they had a long teleconference, and Thiokol made a formal recommendation against the launch. It wasn't just casual conversation; they had a chart there. The chart said we recommend against launch. I mean, it wasn't what you said at all. It was something quite different. They made a formal representation, no launch, and then they had a long off-the-record or off-the-telephone conference caucus, and it turned out that Mason, Wiggins and Kilminster apparently supported this document, and all the engineers were against it, and Lund said, well, I'm chicken, I have to go along. I can't figure out a way to prove that it's not safe.

DR. LUCAS: Mr. Chairman, I heard that




testimony this week. I did not have that testimony, though, at the time this happened.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: No, but you're describing the telecon as though it were just sort of one of those ordinary things, and I don't believe that is accurate.

DR. LUCAS: That was my perspective of it at the time. I would conclude also on the basis of what I have heard this week that it was not an ordinary situation.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, in any event, at no time did you pass on the information you had, even though it was sketchy, to either Mr. Moore or Mr. Aldrich.

DR. LUCAS: No, sir, I did not. As I indicated, the channel, the project channel is from Mr. Reinartz to Mr. Aldrich, and Mr. Reinartz I did not on the basis of what he and Mr. Mulloy had [1043] told me, I didn't consider it an issue. I considered it in line with the kinds of decisions that had already been made relative to the launch.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: You had occasion, though, to talk to both Mr. Aldrich and Mr. Moore before the launch?

DR. LUCAS: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And whether it was in the




line of authority or not, you had ample opportunity to pass on the information that there has been serious concern about the seal, isn't that right?

DR. LUCAS: Yes, sir, I had the opportunity to talk to them.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Okay. I have no further questions.

DR. WALKER: Dr. Lucas, I have a question.

Perhaps you recall that on Tuesday Mr. Boisjoly read a memo into the record which he had sent to his management. I think it went to Mr. Lund through Mr. Boisjoly's supervisor, which indicated that he had a very serious concern with the safety of the seal and indicated that catastrophe could result if this problem was not addressed, and Mr. Lund set up a joint working group, and they proceeded to develop some procedures to try to improve the seals.

The question I have is do you think that the Thiokol management should have taken some additional actions such as warning Marshall, your project, of this very serious concern and suggesting that one should consider stopping launches for a period of time until the problem was solved?

DR. LUCAS: As I recall that memo, and I have not seen it, I have only heard it read I think this week




in which one member of Thiokol had written a letter saying that we should delay launch, if that information had come, I think it should have come to the Marshall Space Flight Center.

DR. WALKER: No, that was Mr. Thompson's memo. There were two memos, actually. Mr. Thompson wrote a memo actually explicitly saying that launches should be stopped. Mr. Boisjoly's letter merely warned of catastrophe. But indeed, you are right, there were two memos.

DR. LUCAS: In either case, I think that information should have been communicated to the Marshall Space Flight Center directly and immediately, and I think it should have been mentioned in the process of flight readiness reviews, of which there have been three or four since that time.

DR. WALKER: Is there some procedure for a manufacturer to respond in a systematic way to these kinds of concerns that their engineering staff has in terms of relaying information to NASA, or do you think that is just a matter of their initiative which they should take upon themselves to carry out?

DR. LUCAS: I have always considered the contractor people that we deal with to be reliable, professional people and have counted on them to bring




their concerns to us if they have them. That has been the NASA mode of encouraging people to speak up and to express concerns if they have them. I don't know of any reason at all why they would not, and they have certainly had that opportunity if in no other way, when we have had our flight readiness reviews, and to be dealing with the claim that somebody made that we ought to ground the vehicle and not pass that on, it is very difficult for me to understand.

[1044] We have motivated, I believe, our contractors to be conservative, particularly so in the case of Thiokol with an incentive contract that has substantial penalty for flight failure. There is no motivation that I know of for contractors to take risks of the nature that would be implied by those memos.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Lucas, in view of what has transpired here, do you feel now that Thiokol should have gotten in touch with you or somebody else to make it clear how much concern there was on their part about this launch?

DR. LUCAS: Yes, sir, I do indeed. I'm surprised, if there was the degree of concern expressed this week, that it didn't come to my attention. I heard Mr. Reinartz on at least two occasions during the countdown poll all the elements of his program, if they




were ready to launch. That involved the Marshall elements and the contractor elements, and in no case did I hear any reservation expressed about readiness to launch.

And so, if the contractor as such or any member thereof should have had these reservations, I was available and it could have been expressed.

DR. WALKER: Who was the Thiokol person involved in these two polls that you are speaking of?

DR. LUCAS: I can't recite all of the persons involved. The poll at the Kennedy Space Center went to the Firing Room II, as has been mentioned earlier, and it's my understanding and belief that Mr. McDonald was at the console along with our people in that firing room.

In the HOSC, the Huntsville Operation Support Center, Mr. Boyd Brinton was the senior Thiokol person now there, and I don't know if others were there or not.

DR. WALKER: Could you ask Mr. Reinartz to document that information for the Commission?

DR. LUCAS: That the whereabouts

DR. WALKER: Those polls and who exactly responded for Thiokol.

DR. LUCAS: I don't believe anybody responded




for Thiokol. The response was whoever was on the console, which I believe was a government person, but the contractor person was there and he can document for you whether or not that person participated in that.

DR. WALKER: I would very much like to receive that.

MR. ACHESON: Dr. Lucas, were you present at the review conducted in Washington in I think August of 1985?

DR. LUCAS: No, sir, I was not.

MR. ACHESON: Was the result of that review regarding the joint seal reported to you by the people who were there?

DR. LUCAS: Yes, sir, it was so, and action was taken, already being taken, as a matter of fact, at the time of that report.

MR. ACHESON: Was there any suggestion made to you that temperature, low temperature might be related to the performance of the seals?

DR. LUCAS: No, sir, I don't recall that it was.

MR. ACHESON: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So the weather and the fact that it was cold weather didn't cause any alarm as far as you were concerned in connection with the seals?


[1045] 1892


DR. LUCAS: Not on the basis of my knowledge, no, sir.

DR. RIDE: Had you been present at the-I think it was the 51-E FR where there was a presentation on the seal problem that had been discovered after the 51-C launch?

DR. LUCAS: Yes, Dr. Ride, as I mentioned, the 51-E, which I believe occurred in April of 1985, was the occasion first insofar as I know, the only occasion where there was erosion on the secondary seal of the nozzle. That was the one that got our attention and indicated that the problem might be more serious than originally thought, and therefore we did move out to improve our margin.

DR. RIDE: I don't have a copy of the presentation here, but as I recall, one of the statements in that presentation was that the low temperature may have contributed to the problem with the seals, and it appears that that concern wasn't carried through in the August presentation at Marshall.

Do you have any recollection of that temperature being mentioned at the 51-E FR?

DR. LUCAS: I can't say yes or no. I just simply don't recall.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: The occasion, I guess, was




51-C where the weather was the coldest.

DR. LUCAS: I think I misspoke. I said 51-E. 51-C I guess was in preparation for the 51-E FR. I guess that is correct.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And 51-C was the coldest weather and the worst blow-by, wasn't it?

DR. LUCAS: No, sir, it was the coldest weather, but I don't think it was the worst blow-by. I think the worst blow-by was at a temperature higher than 60 degrees, and I'm not sure.

GENERAL KUTYNA: Dr. Lucas, I think you are wrong there. The worst blow-by was on 51-C. It was erosion.

DR. LUCAS: I'm sorry.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: The worst blow-by was on 51-C, and that was in the coldest weather, and it is surprising that there wasn't a correlation between 51-C and 51-L, the Challenger flight, in your mind.

DR. LUCAS: Well, as this indicates here, this Thiokol position was that there wouldn't be a substantial difference between those.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But you're relying solely on Thiokol now.

DR. LUCAS: Yes, sir. I have to rely on Thiokol. They are our experts.




CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So you put the total responsibility on Thiokol?

DR. LUCAS: No, sir, I do not. I indicated earlier that I listened to two sources. One is the Thiokol prime contractor, and the second is our own engineering personnel, some of whom have testified, George Hardy and several others, that are knowledgeable engineers, and I rely upon them also.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I don't have any other questions.

Dr. Keel?

DR. KEEL: Dr. Lucas, just one further question on your awareness of temperature concerns. There was a July 2, 1985 briefing by Thiokol to Marshall personnel.

Were you not in that briefing?

DR. LUCAS: I don't recall having been at that briefing.

[1046] DR. KEEL: That specifically did talk about O-ring resiliency and temperature effects, and that was the basis, it is my understanding, on which Marshall and Thiokol then briefed headquarters in August 1985.

DR. LUCAS: I don't recall having been in that briefing, and I don't say this as a matter of excuse, but as you know, the Marshall Space Flight Center has




many projects for which I am responsible, and I don't spend nearly all my time on Space Shuttle. But I am sure if that meeting was there, senior people from the Marshall Space Flight Center were involved.

DR. KEEL: Just two other questions.

You mentioned in your testimony that when you first learned about this concern at 7:00 p.m. that Mr. Reinartz and Mr. Mulloy said they had heard about a concern, but is that an accurate characterization, heard about the concern? That sounds like it was second hand information.

DR. LUCAS: I didn't intend to imply that. It is my understanding Mr. Mulloy had only heard of the concern a few maybe minutes or an hour before. I understood that Mr. Reinartz; had had a telephone conversation with someone where that concern had been expressed.

DR. KEEL: Mr. Reinartz actually participated in the 5:45 p.m. teleconference. So he had firsthand knowledge.

Did you know that Mr. Lovingood was concerned enough about the nature of this that he thought there was a good prospect for a delay, and he had actually recommended that Mr. Aldrich be given notice that there might be a need to elevate this?




DR. LUCAS: I did not know that, no, sir.

DR. KEEL: Did you know he had asked for you and Mr. Kingsbury both to participate in the 8:15 conference?

DR. LUCAS: I did not know that, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Lucas, going back to the previous question asked about the responsibility of Thiokol, you said you didn't rely solely on them. Yesterday both Mr. Hardy and Mr. Mulloy said had they known about the position of the engineers at Thiokol, they would not have recommended a launch, and I understood that that was your position too now.

DR. LUCAS: Had I been involved as a project manager, I would not-I would put it this way. Had I been told that all of the engineers at Thiokol recommended against the launch, then I certainly would have interposed an objection.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Which I guess is another way of saying that the responsibility really lies with Thiokol.

DR. LUCAS: Well, I would think that-I don't recall that we have ever, that I have never knowingly overridden a go/no-go decision by a contractor.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So the responsibility rests




with Thiokol?

DR. LUCAS: The responsibility rests with Thiokol, but I'm not trying to shake the responsibility of the Marshall Space Flight Center. Thiokol reports to us. But I do rely upon the contractor, the prime contractor, to recommend launch.

[1047] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But as you know, the Commission is considering the decision making process, and if I understand the testimony of you and Mr. Hardy, and Mr. Mulloy, it was to the effect that had Thiokol recommended against the launch, the flight would not have occurred.

Am I correct?

DR. LUCAS: That is correct.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Thank you. We have no further questions.

DR. KEEL: Mr. Moore, Mr. Aldrich, Mr. Thomas and Mr. Smith.

(Witnesses sworn.)

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I think maybe that Mr. Moore and Mr. Aldrich are clearly identified. Mr. Smith and Mr. Thomas, you might say a word for the record about your present employment.






MR. SMITH: Yes. I am Director of the Kennedy Space Center, and I have been there since September of 1979. The year preceding that I was the Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Flight, which would correspond to Mr. Jesse Moore's deputy at that time. It was actually John Yardley. Previous to that I was the Deputy Center Director at Marshall Space Flight Center and had spent all my career since 1951 at the Center, starting out in design and going up through the ranks of increasing responsibility.

MR. THOMAS: I am Gene Thomas. I am presently the Director of Launch and Landing Operations at Kennedy Space Center and report directly to Bob Sieck, who reports to Mr. Smith, and I am also, in that capacity, I serve as a launch director for the Shuttle launches and have served in that capacity for the last five launches. And I started with NASA in 1962 as a systems




engineer, and worked on all the manned programs to date.

My last experience before coming to the Launch Director position was as a Shuttle project engineer for all elements of the Shuttle, and I was the launch director for STS-51-L.


By way of a question, could I ask, did any of you gentlemen prior to launch know about the objections of Thiokol to the launch?

MR. SMITH: I did not.

MR. THOMAS: No, sir.

MR. ALDRICH: I did not.

MR. MOORE: I did not.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So the four, certainly four of the key people who made the decision about the launch were not aware of the history that we have been unfolding here before the Commission.

MR. MOORE: That is correct.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Turning to another subject-and I am not sure which one of you gentlemen wants to refer to it-we have had a lot of discussion about the Critical Items List, and particularly the decision that was made in December 17th, or on December 17th, 1982.


[1048] 1900


Would one of you or a combination of you attempt to explain what this is and what it's significance was and whatever regulations apply to it in connection with the launch?

MR. MOORE: Let me try to give you a general feel, and then I will ask Mr. Aldrich and maybe Dick if he would like to comment on the Critical Items List.

As has been reported here, Mr. Chairman

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Do you have a copy of this, and would you like one?

MR. MOORE: I do not have a copy of that at this point in time.

As has been reported, there are a lot of critical items in the Space Shuttle Program, and I think in the Category 1's there are about almost 1,000, maybe 900, something on that order. When I look at Criticality 1 items is they have to do with flight safety, and they put kind of a special flag on the various issues associated with Criticality 1 items, be they 1 or be they 1R, and you are concerned about flight safety, and they are then issues related to those need to be appropriately dispositioned in the program as they come up from time to time. In other words, they should be raised all the way from the contractor, if they're at the contractor plan, to the responsibility of project




management, to the responsible Level II management, and then to the responsible Level I management. And so they raise a flag in terms of having to do with flight safety, and there are issues that come up from time to time on a number of the flights, not only in the SRB area, but things that could happen that have to do with flight safety, for example, and those get supposedly dispositioned in detail at the various levels of the program until they reach my particular level.

And so that is what the Criticality 1 thing in general means to me.

And maybe, Arnie, you would like to pick it up from your perspective at Level IL

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Being a little more specific, I gather that prior to this date this was a Criticality 1R item. Now, on this date a change was made, and so the R was removed.

Would you explain why the change was made and after it was made, what did it mean, what was the significance of the change?

MR. MOORE: I can't explain why the change was made. I read this Criticality 1R, or this Criticality 1 item, as it got unfolded post the 51-L- I have not read all the Criticality 1 particular items, but what it means to me is it means that you are losing an element




of redundancy, and as has been reported here, that during the ignition transient of the SRB, during the early part of that phase, there is some thought process that you do not have redundancy at that point in time. But after you get that ignition transient, the pressure builds up, you do have redundancy, but that is a critical time. And to me the change from Criticality 1R to 1 means that it should be paid very, very close attention, that you have an area here that you need to watch very, very closely, and it says you do not have redundancy during all the periods of times you would like to have redundancy, and therefore it needs, again, very, very close attention.

That is how I read the change from 1R.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Does anybody know why it was made at this time?

MR. MOORE: That was before, I think, this, as you stated, was in December of 1982.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Yes, December 17,1982.

[1049] MR. MOORE: Well, I joined the Space Shuttle Program in February of '83 and so I do not have the history nor the background on this.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Aldrich, can you answer that?

MR. ALDRICH: I can comment about the failure




mode and effects analysis, and Critical Items List.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But if you could, though, just on this, do you know why the change was made at this time?

MR. ALDRICH: No, sir, I have not studied this Critical Items List item on the SRB in detail.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Once the change was made, what is different about it?

MR. ALDRICH: Well, I can explain my interpretation of 1 and 1R.


MR. ALDRICH: A case where you have an item that is Criticality 1R, it means that you have an item which, if all similar items would fail at the same time, it would be cause for loss of vehicle and crew. However, there is a redundancy involved in that you have two similar items, like the two O-ring seals, and that unless you had a failure mode where they both failed or both did not work at the same time, then you in fact have redundancy.

But if you had two O-rings that had the same common failure, then it is really a Criticality 1 item, and you would expect they would both fail at the same time.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I don't understand that.




Why the change, and what was the result of the change?

MR. ALDRICH: I can't describe the solid rocket booster Criticality 1 and 1R items. I have not reviewed those in detail. I review very many of these items for the orbiter vehicle, and the description I just tried to make is my understanding of those criticalities as they have applied to other systems that I have worked on.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Let me try another tack.

After you make this change and you issue this piece of paper and it circulates and everybody has to be more careful, what in fact happens? Is there a different treatment of when you get ready to launch of these items, or is this just paperwork?

MR. ALDRICH: Let me try to explain that.

Each project in the program is required to do a detailed failure effects analysis of their hardware down to the component level to determine the criticality, if that component were to fail, what it would mean to the system that it is in, and then to the vehicle and the flight conditions that it sees, each project being, each contractor is required in the contract to do that analysis.

As a part of that analysis, some items turn




out to be critical. That is, they create failure modes that have significant consequence to the safety of the vehicle or to the success of the mission in which it will fly, and these are extracted as the total FMEA process proceeds. And they are highlighted and formally documented in a separate document. However, both the failure mode and effects analysis document for each project, and the critical items list for each project is submitted to the NASA project involved.

For instance, the SRB would be submitted to the SRB project organization at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Those are reviewed and critiqued by the NASA engineering counterparts for the people who have made those analyses, and the intent is that there becomes agreement [1050] that these things are correctly analyzed, correctly documented, but the contractors know this hardware in much greater depth and familiarity, and so they start the process by providing full documentation. However, the critique is made by both government and contractor to reach complete agreement that what has been documented to the best of everyone's knowledge is accurate technically.

The Criticality 1 items are categorized, and you mentioned 1 and 1R. There is also 2 and 3, and they are less critical as you go up that chain. The




Criticality 2-and all of these items, all of these criticality items in the Criticality Items List are reviewed by the contractor. In fact, the contractor is required to prepare and submit them by the contract, reviewed by the project at Level III for accuracy and correctness, and then they are submitted to my organization at the Johnson Space Center, the Level II program, again for review, understanding, critique and approval. The Criticality 1 and 1R items deal with safety of the vehicle. They take one more step. They are forwarded to the Level I organization at NASA headquarters, again for critique, review and approval.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So if I understand what you are saying, that meant that you and Mr. Moore would be very conscious of this problem because it was a Criticality 1 item, is that right?

MR. ALDRICH: I would be very conscious of it if it had been brought to my attention.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Now, what requirement was there to bring it to your attention?

MR. ALDRICH: The requirement on the project is that these items be fully documented and fully approved, and this one

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But you know, that doesn't really mean much to me, Mr. Aldrich. I mean, the people




that have testified here, say they are Level III, they didn't have to do anything except get the pieces of paper and handle it at Level III, and I am asking, did this require something else, that because the criticality nature of this and because it says that the loss of mission and vehicle and crew will result from it, did that put added burden on the people in the process, decisionmaking process to notify you people at the top about it?




MR. ALDRICH: The people at the top of the program were notified in 1983-and please let me finish. As you mentioned, there are a large number of these Criticality 1 items, and they are not each individually and uniquely reviewed for each launch. Changes to these criticalities in terms of the rationale, the understanding of how the system performs, or any failures that occurred are highlighted and it is the responsibility of the projects, the contractors, to notify their project office at NASA and up the chain of changes to performance of the equipment or to the rationale that applies to the category of these Criticality 1 items.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Did that mean, then, that in 51-C you were all notified about what happened on that and the fact that it was the coldest day and the most serious blow-by? Did you know that?

MR. ALDRICH: Well, this Criticality 1 item was not brought up for attention to my level, that there was a change either in the engineering assessment of how the system performed or in the flight experience that would change the rationale that is documented here that caused this to be a Criticality 1 item.

[1051] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Let's go back to my question. Did you know about 51-C and the fact that it




was the coldest launch and you had had the most trouble with this seal?

MR. ALDRICH: I knew that 51-C was launched under cold conditions. I knew-I do not know-I did not know at the time that 51-C had had the most blow-by or the most erosion, if that in fact is true.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: None of you did, I gather.

MR. MOORE: No, sir, neither did I. I did not realize that, and I did not have a correlation of temperature with that. I knew that 51-C was a cold launch because I remember we scrubbed the day on the 51-C flight because of excess ice on the external tank, and we were worried about the thermal protection system again that we talked about this morning.

But I did not recall any correlation between temperature and the erosion experience that we had seen on 51-C.

GENERAL KUTYNA: Jess, if I could interrupt, you know there was a briefing brought up in August that had three bullets about concerns, one of which was resiliency, which is temperature-related. How was that dispositioned in headquarters?

MR. MOORE: That particular review, General Kutyna, came about as a result of the memo that Mr. Davids had written to me expressing some concern about




case-to-case erosion and also nozzle-to-case erosion on the previous flights. It also, the memo, resulted from a visit that Mr. Davids of my office and Mr. Hamby of my office went down to Marshall, and the memo said he was going to set up a briefing to headquarters to go over the situation in some more detail.

That particular activity started in our own thinking after the 51-B flight, and the 51-B flight, as I recall, was on April 29 of 1985, and at that time we experienced for the first time secondary erosion in the nozzle joint. And I think we got-we got a little bit more concerned about the erosion problem at that time.

I assigned an action item to my deputy for technical matters. Then that led to the trip down to Marshall with Mr. Davids and Mr. Hamby. And following that was a meeting that Mr. Weeks in my office and Mr. Bardos had at Thiokol discussing this particular problem. Mr. Bardos then wrote a memo for the record, I guess, after that particular meeting.

And then on August 19 the briefing was set up where the Marshall folks and the Thiokol people were coming in to headquarters. It was on my calendar on the l9th-it was on a Monday-until about three or four days before the actual briefing, and at that point in time I was working temperature sensor failure




problems that had occurred on the July flight and I was not able to attend that particular briefing.

And so Mike, Mr. Weeks, I should say, attended that briefing, along with-let's see, I've got a list of the other large number of people that attended that briefing. Mr. Weeks, Deputy Director, Deputy Associate Administrator in my office; Mr. Winterhalter, who was Shuttle Propulsion Division Acting Director at that time. Mr. Bill Hamby was the STS program integration Deputy Director. Mr. Paul Wetzel, who was the solid rocket booster programs chief-, Mr. Paul Herr, who was the solid rocket motor program manager; and Mr. Harry Quong, who was the reliability, maintainability and quality assurance director of the chief engineer's office.

[1052] Those were the group of people at NASA headquarters who attended the meeting. Mr. Mulloy of Marshall Space Flight Center, who was a solid rocket booster program manager, attended; and Mr. Bob Swinghammer of Marshall also attended, who is the materials and processes laboratory director at Marshall. Thiokol had a total of six people there, including Mr. Mason, Mr. Wiggins, Mr. Kilminster, Mr. McDonald, and Mr. Speas.

That briefing was given on August 19




and then Mr. Weeks came back a day later or two days later and reported back to me that he had heard the briefing and that he thought the data basically supported continuing to fly. He did not think it was an issue that we ought to ground the fleet. We did need to press on to get this thing fixed, as we had already started some activities back in the April time frame.

He cited the Titan experience, something that he thought was relevant to his conclusions, and he also mentioned to me that he had talked to Mr. Hardy, I guess, at Marshall about this whole thing. And so that was how that particular briefing was dispensed, disposed of at headquarters.

And at the same time we had had going on at that time this program leading to the Qual Motor-5 firing in February of this year time frame. That was to do some of the tests on some changes in the particular solid rocket motor that might be implemented in the shuttle flight program.

DR. WALKER: Mr. Moore, since the waiver from 1R to 1 was executed in late December 1982, why did intensive program to restore the redundancy of the seal not begin until April or so of 1985?

MR. MOORE: There was planning going on, to my understanding, Mr. Walker, in terms of doing some tests




and analysis as early as 1984. In the spring of 1984, 1 believe, was when Marshall and Thiokol began some initial interactive discussions relative to putting a plan together for understanding and characterizing the O-ring situation.

In fact, there was an action item, as I recall, out of the STS 41-C flight readiness review that was assigned, I believe it was assigned to Marshall to go and look at the characteristics of the sealing process and procedures to ensure consistency in terms of the mating of the joints, and that actually followed 41-C, where I believe we saw some erosion at that point in time.

An action was given out of that flight readiness review, so during this period of time some tests and analysis were under way. And then we saw the 51-B flight in April of 1985, and then that was the first experience we had seen on the secondary erosion, secondary O-ring erosion on the secondary seal, and that is when we accelerated moving out on some changes, potential changes, in this thing leading up to the QM-5.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: In view of all of that, it didn't occur to any of you to ask the question about the weather and the seal problem prior to launch?

MR. MOORE: Mr. Chairman, let me tell you my




thoughts on the temperature situation. I had remembered in my own mind the Launch Commit Criteria, and that has been cited here before. But that says that all systems should be able to operate between a 31-degree ambient temperature and a 99-degree ambient temperature, and that was what was fixing temperatures in my particular mind as far as the overall temperature relationship.

[1053] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But at the time this was considered a Level III matter, this seal, and the weather-related questions related to the seal, so that was all considered a Level III matter, so nobody seemed to think it was important enough to take to Level II or Level I; is that right?

MR. MOORE: Well, it did not come up to our level, obviously, during this particular count, and in the past, over the past years of this program, that I have been involved in this program, I had never personally associated any temperature variation with respect to the sealing performance of these O-rings.

So it had not been brought up to my attention during this particular process. And, as I have said, I was looking at the Launch Commit Criteria, which went from the 31-degree ambient temperature up to the 99-degree ambient temperature, and that is what I was boxing in in terms of an operating plan.




And it was my assumption that the hardware was qualified to operate under those kind of conditions.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And the same thing was true, Mr. Aldrich, in your case, when you had all of the discussions about the weather and the ice and all of that-the fact that you in the back of your mind had heard about the seal problem and the possibility that the seal was harder when it was colder?

MR. ALDRICH: I had not heard any of that information that you are commenting on, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: You hadn't heard any of that?

MR. ALDRICH: No, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And I gather the others

MR. SMITH: I had not heard that information.


VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: If I could ask several groups whether or not they thought some additions to the Launch Commit Criteria might be required, because clearly we were in this 51-L case apparently inside the Launch Commit Criteria, and yet we had groups saying that they didn't want to fly.

So would you explain to us how changes in the Launch Commit Criteria are incorporated and why they should or should not have applied to this situation?

MR. ALDRICH: Well, let me tell you my




understanding of the Launch Commit Criteria. It is a formal document in the program. It is a document we spend a lot of time on to try to make it right so that the launch team can in fact make the proper decisions without having late close-in deliberations on things that might be complicated to understand, and each project in the program-the same as I talked about the FMEA and the CIL-each project in the program is responsible for specifying conditions which they can support or constraints that they must levy on the launch system.

The fact that there is not a constraint in the Launch Commit Criteria, in my view, is not that it was overlooked. In my view, the Launch Commit Criteria correctly reflects the program's understanding of the certification of the solid rocket booster and other elements, which say that they have been certified to operate between 31 degrees Fahrenheit and 99 degrees Fahrenheit ambient temperature at the time of launch.

And that is a complicated thing to say because it implies prior conditions and length of time in different temperatures. But in fact our program spec does levy that on the projects, and the [1054] projects are obligated to come forward and identify conditions where they do not meet the conditions that they are requested




to be designed for.

My understanding in general is that the SRB project has certified to those conditions, and I think we can provide to you a documentation trail that we believe indicates that. And, in any event, in the launch environment I certainly rely on what we have put extra effort and time into in the Launch Commit Criteria to tell us what constraints we have to honor and what things are acceptable.

And by reading the Launch Commit Criteria for weather and finding no constraints on the solid rocket booster I don't imply that something has been left out by accident. I imply that the projects agree with those constraints as stated, and I would have said that the night before launch, and I would say it again today.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: OK. But how do we correlate that with the Thiokol recommendation that they not launch outside their experience?

MR. ALDRICH: I cannot understand some of the reports in that regard that we have heard based on the kind of certification program that I believe is in place in the program that has gone on for almost 20 years and was very thoroughly done over the certification phase. That track needs to be understood by all of us.





to imply, then, that someone should have initiated amendment to Launch Criteria so that they would be willing to approach a certain limit that was not currently in the LCC?

MR. ALDRICH: I believe-well, yes. My belief is that the SRB project by all of the prior participation in the project was committed intentionally to the 31- to 99-degree temperature range, and if in fact there was some concern with that, large or small, they would be required to submit additional Launch Commit Criteria to us that says for the given parameter or given system on the SRB that system in fact has a temperature range that is somewhat different, and the launch team must honor that constraint, and we would honor that constraint.

We might elect to make some change to try to correct that situation, but we would honor it.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Did anyone submit such amendments?

MR. ALDRICH: No, sir, not to my knowledge, and certainly we don't have it in the record today.

MR. THOMAS: I might point out that for each mission we have an amendment to the LCC that picks up changes, some of them as late as the day before, and history has shown that Marshall is the most conservative, that they cover everything. Their history




shows that they cover everything with an LCC when it is required.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I assumed that. That is what Mr. Mulloy scolded Thiokol for trying to do, was to change the Launch Commit Criteria on the eve of launch; isn't it?

MR. MOORE: Well, I can't speak for the rationale. I just heard the comments yesterday and so forth.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But I gather that is what Thiokol was saying. We think now that we should not launch, or at least the engineers did. We don't think we should launch in this temperature. And Mr. Mulloy, according to the testimony, said well, you can't do that. You can't [1055] change the Launch Commit Criteria on the eve of launch. This is Friday night; you can't do that.

MR. MOORE: I'm not sure what he meant by that. I think you would have to ask him his intention there. But, as Gene said, there are Launch Commit Criteria that are changed.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, we heard him yesterday. I think he is saying the same thing Mr. Aldrich is. But, as it turned out, Thiokol, however late in the game, then apparently said we don't think




the criteria is right. We think it would be dangerous to launch at this temperature. That was their first recommendation.

MR. MOORE: You certainly can raise objections to Launch Commit Criteria. I mean, there is nothing in the program that says if someone has a problem with the Launch Commit Criteria. Until it is T-0 you can raise an objection to it and so forth.

DR. COVERT: Mr. Aldrich, you have just said that you believe the Launch Commit Criteria is 31 degrees to 99 degrees.

MR. ALDRICH: Yes, sir.

DR. COVERT: I recall yesterday, I believe, that there was discussion of the certification of the solid rocket motor was 40 to 90 degrees. There seems to be something here that I don't understand completely. Could you help me out with that, please?

MR. ALDRICH: Yes, sir. I have here the Launch Commit Criteria document that was in effect-only the pages for weather. It is quite a thick document and there are many other parameters besides weather. In fact, some of the parameters have unique red lines and criteria for each individual measurement.

The general specification for the entire launch vehicle is 31 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit, and that




is clearly specified. There is a special criteria on the solid rocket booster bulk propellant temperature and I believe that is the other parameter that you were referring to. I haven't looked at that here immediately, but let me see if I can find it on the document.

DR. COVERT: I believe you are correct.

MR. MOORE: I think it is mean bulk temperature of the propellant in the solid.

DR. COVERT: Thank you.

MR. ACHESON: A question for Mr. Moore or Mr. Aldrich. When a contractor has raised a red flag on a Criticality 1 item, as in this case the contractor did initially with regard to the seal, what reporting channel or procedure would you expect to follow within the NASA organization, and would you expect it to be different from that followed in a Criticality 1R item?

MR. ALDRICH: I would think if a recognized concern existed in a Criticality 1 or 1R system that represented a change in thought, rationale or concern from what might have been reviewed thoroughly previously that it would be raised to all levels of the program.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Is there a rule to that effect?

MR. ALDRICH: We have been looking for some of




our language in this regard in our NASA management instructions and our program directives at Level II which guide the program, and I believe there is language of that type. However, it is somewhat general and interpretive and it certainly requires the projects to make that interpretation. [1056] But the implication is clear: that a critical problem should be reported up the chain.

MR. ACHESON: But, as I understand you, there would then be some ambiguity as to what was a new concern.

MR. ALDRICH: Well, it has to be interpreted, clearly.

MR. MOORE: Let me just add, if I can, to that. All of our major contractors participate in our flight readiness reviews and in our Launch-1 Day Reviews. They are all polled individually. A senior member of that contractor team is polled individually to see if they are ready to launch.

At our mission management team meetings that Mr. Aldrich chairs-and I attend as many of them as I can-the contractors are not represented at the mission management team meetings, and we look to the project elements then to raise any particular issues. However, I would like to point out that there is nothing




in the program that says if a contractor has any problems that he could not pick up the phone and call me or call Mr. Aldrich or get a message to a particular concern.

And at that point in time our response will be we will take that concern and have it discussed, and those issues.

MR. ACHESON: I understand that. But, of course, what I'm wondering is if at Level III, when the Level III manager thinks that he has disposed of it, if it is a Criticality 1 item, should he really see that it is reported all the way up, as opposed to a 1R?

MR. ALDRICH: That is a hard question to answer because it is interpretive and the language that requires critical problems to be reported doesn't refer specifically to the Critical Items List or to Criticality 1 as a terminology. And so I think the intent of reporting problems up in our documentation is proper. It requires interpretation and you have heard some of the interpretations that were made in this case by other people involved.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: There is judgment, too. The trouble with so much paperwork is you eliminate the good judgment and common sense. I can' t imagine why some of these people who knew about the seriousness of the




problem didn't pick up the phone themselves and call you, not just the contractor.

MR. MOORE: Let me say that in the past, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission, there has been no shortage of issues discussed, I guess both at the flight readiness reviews, the Launch-1 Day reviews, and even after that in terms of launches. And if you look at the past mission before this, where we scrubbed something like five or six times, I guess, there were all discussions of this type that took place on whether or not our weather ceiling conditions were being violated or whether we had a technical problem that we could work around and so forth.

So the issues, there are opportunities to bring up the issues and so forth, and we attempt to get them properly dispositioned.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Could you give us a description of the functional differences between the Levels I, II and III?

MR. MOORE: Well, I will start, Mr. Armstrong, and try to tell you. I think I tried to present a picture maybe it was the first day of the public hearings of this Commission to try to show how the boxes tier down. You know, my office and the Office of Space Flight has a number of additional responsibilities in


[1057] 1925


addition to the space shuttle program. We have responsibility for upper stages and expendable launch vehicles and Spacelab. So there is a broad range.

My office has been broken up into elements that look after specific parts of the shuttle from what I would call a policy objective or resource and a top-level program management point of view, trying to set the objectives for the program, try to make sure the program is managed properly, trying to make sure the resources, the proper resources, are applied to the program.

That in turn tiers down into essentially three NASA centers, with the Kennedy Space Center having the responsibility for launch and landing operations, with the Marshall Space Flight Center, as Dr. Lucas reported, having responsibility for the space shuttle main engines.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Excuse me for interrupting, but I am not asking for the organizational differences. I am asking for the functional differences between the levels.

MR. MOORE: Well, the functional difference between the levels starts out at my level, which is called Level I, and all the issues that are not properly resolved to everybody's level of satisfaction in the program are brought up to me. Arnie will bring those up




and I will look to Arnie, Mr. Aldrich here, to make sure that the other project elements and so forth all feel responsible or have all resolved all their issues in their particular program.

And then he in turn will look down to the various program elements, project elements, I should say, at the various NASA centers to make sure they are all ready from a functional standpoint. Each project element then will have their budgeting responsibility, their own management responsibility. And when we get into a launch situation we pyramid ourselves up in terms of the launch decision process.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: I would interpret that to mean if they could solve it at a lower level it doesn't come up, and I am wondering if that is really the truth.

MR. MOORE: Well, I think that again it is a judgmental kind of a thing, Mr. Armstrong, and issues that people are sensitized to that, for example, reflect flight safety, reflect other major concerns in the program, they should be properly brought up to the appropriate levels.

DR. RIDE: Would you have expected this problem to have been brought up to Level II?

MR. MOORE: Well, I will answer from my




perspective. I think, looking back on everything and the amount of discussion that went on, even though the people decided that it was judgmental and they thought it had been put to bed, I would have thought it would have been brought to Level II, if you want my honest opinion.

DR. RIDE: And I guess maybe there are two parts to that question. We had two different aspects to it, I guess. One is would you expect any new concern about a Criticality 1 item to be brought up to Level II?

MR. MOORE: Well, I think a new concern on Criticality 1 items I think should be brought up to Level II. And I think at this point in time in the program I believe Level II is our repository for CIL items in the program and handled the Critical Items List. So yes, any changes and deviations and so forth to that I certainly expected to be brought up to Level 11.

DR. RIDE: And I guess the other aspect is would you expect to hear that a contractor had originally given a, no-go and then subsequently given a go? Would you expect to be informed of that?

MR. MOORE: Well, again that is hard to say. I would hope that I would have been informed of those kind of things, but I am not sure that the people who


[1058] 1928


figured they had made a judgment on this thing, Dr. Ride, had satisfactorily resolved this whole thing. I have nothing in the program that says it is required.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Why Wouldn't that be the easiest thing in the world to put into the program? If the contractor recommends no launch, please advise us.

MR. MOORE: That would be very easy to do.

Let me just add one more comment to that. I have never felt that anyone in the program has been reluctant to speak up, and therefore I was operating under the ground rules and principles that people who had issues in the program or in the process of reviews could in fact speak up and raise those issues.

And I think we have all tried to be very open about it, and I think many, many reviews we participate in we have very lengthy discussions on various kinds of issues involving not only the headquarters people but the field center people and the contractor people.

DR. WALKER: Mr. Moore, I would like to return again to the August briefing. At the time of that briefing, Morton Thiokol had in fact received, or management had received the two letters that I spoke of earlier from their expert engineers, one suggesting termination of flights until the seal problem was remedied, and another discussing the possibility of




severe catastrophe.

I know you were not at that briefing, but could you tell me how strong a concern about

safety Morton Thiokol expressed at that briefing?.

MR. MOORE: I can only relay to you what Mr. Weeks relayed after that particular assessment. He sat through the entire briefing, and I think he came back and said that we ought to press on with our QM-5 testing and get the test under way, but that there was not enough concern to ground the fleet. For example, we wanted to build margin of safety and eliminate all of the erosion. We were not happy with the erosion.

And, as has been expressed earlier, erosion had been seen as early as Flight 2 on the particular shuttle, and in the case-to-case joints-that was the worst case, I guess-erosion that had been experienced. And so I was not of an opinion, based upon input fed back to me, nor did any of my other people feel, that the fleet should be grounded because of the experiences to date, but we should get on with a program to eliminate the concern that we were expressing with the O-rings.

DR. WALKER: Would it be possible to get copies of the briefing charts that Morton Thiokol presented at that briefing?




MR. MOORE: Yes, I think we have already provided the Commission a full set of documentation on the August 19 briefing. I think we provided that to the Commission two or three days after the Commission was formed. So you should have a copy of that.

DR. WALKER: All of the briefing charts of Morton Thiokol would be in what you have given us?

MR. MOORE: Well, I'm not familiar with any additional briefing charts that Morton Thiokol may have presented. This was a package briefing, as I later looked at it, that was documented and put into a bound volume, and I think we provided the entire document to this Commission. That is all the data that I am aware of was presented at that August 19 briefing, Mr. Walker.

[1059] DR. RIDE: Mr. Weeks was the person who signed the Critical Items List for this particular item and was also the one who attended the August briefing as your representative on the joint and the seal problem?


DR. RIDE: When he presented the results of that briefing to you and he discussed with you the problems associated with seal erosion and then the problems associated with the joint, did he put it in the context of we have got a problem with a Criticality 1




item and we are sustaining damage or some erosion to something that is considered a Criticality 1 item?

MR. MOORE: I don't recall it being put in that context, but I had participated, as I have done in the past, Dr. Ride, in a flight readiness review that was held on July 2 where we were dispensing of an item of secondary erosion that we had seen for the first time. And the chart that was presented and discussed in that flight readiness review had flight safety, and so I knew that it was an area that was concerning flight safety.

But I don't think Mr. Weeks expressed it in those exact terms.




MR. HOTZ: Mr. Chairman, could I have a question for Mr. Thomas, please?

Mr. Thomas, you are familiar with the testimony that this Commission has taken in the last several days on the relationship of temperature to the seals in the solid rocket booster?

MR. THOMAS: Yes, sir, I have been here all week.

MR. HOTZ: Is this the type of information that you feel that you should have as Launch Director to make a launch decision?

MR. THOMAS: If you refer to the fact that the temperature according to the Launch Commit Criteria should have been 53 degrees, as has been testified, rather than 31, yes, I expect that to be in the LCC. That is a controlling document that we use in most cases to make a decision for launch.

There are some other judgments that we make based upon the clock, the hold times that we have remaining, the window for the day, other things like that that are not normally in the LCC, we get that information from the program elements late in the timeframe before launch, but most of the no-go criteria are the go/no-go criteria we expect to see in the LCC.

MR. HOTZ: But you are not really very happy




about not having had this information before the launch?

MR. THOMAS: No, sir. I can assure you that if we had had that information, we wouldn't have launched if it had been 53 degrees.

MR. ACHESON: A question for Mr. Moore.

Mr. Moore, there have been some implications in the press, and I am sure you have seen them, that there might have been an unusual degree of eagerness to get on with the launch schedule in the case of 51-L that might or might not have changed the balance of caution.

Would you comment on that, please?

MR. MOORE: Yes, sir, I would be happy to comment on that.

As a matter of fact, I would like to review, with the permission of the Chairman, some of my thoughts on the evening or so leading up to the launch, a couple of evenings, which will get into the question of pressure.

[1060] As we have talked about before, we held our normal launch minus one day review on the 25th of January, I think about 11:00 o'clock in the morning. We were all go. Everybody polled said they were ready to support the launch. We did have a concern about weather, and that evening we met to discuss weather for




the next morning, which was on the 26th. It was a launch opportunity, and that happened to be a Sunday morning. As you heard from the Air Force person talking about the weather, we did not get a very positive forecast, and I think our mission management team was unanimous in saying we probably should not try a launch because of the weather problems that were likely to occur on Sunday morning. Also we were told that afternoon that we had an awful lot of dignitaries in to watch the launch. We had people here from the People's Republic of China and several Congressmen, and a large number of other outsiders, as well as we understood that afternoon that the Vice President was possibly going to stop over on Sunday morning to view the launch, and so forth, and that was on Saturday afternoon.

Nevertheless, we decided to scrub the launch as a result of the weather forecast at 9:30 p.m. that night, and as a matter of fact, to my knowledge, no one had any political pressure whatsoever to try to get the launch off, and that was the case through the entire sequence on this flight, and that has been the case on every flight that I have been associated with.

We have got roundly criticized in the press as a result of the flight just prior to this about all of the multitude of delays starting in the December 20




attempt, I guess. We shut down the week of the holidays to give our team a rest and so forth, and then we had four or five additional scrubs before we finally got it launched, and we also waved off three times at the Kennedy Space Center trying to get it landed at Kennedy.

So we have not been under any political pressure. This program operates on launch-by-launch basis. We try to make sure all launches are safe, all issues are put to bed, and worry about downstream schedules later. You always have to lay out downstream schedules.

I have got schedules going into the early '90s, but you take them one at a time, and that is the philosophy by which the Shuttle team operates, and you worry about how you adjust your downstream schedules after you have safely launched and safely landed the particular mission you are concerned about.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: I am going to ask this question to Mr. Smith, and I asked it earlier to Mr. Aldrich, and you are really better qualified to answer it as it has to do with the facility design and whether it was designed to handle freezing temperatures, and if not, why it wasn't.

MR. SMITH: Neil, early in the program it was




recognized that we were not equipped, coming out of Apollo, to handle freezing conditions in the water systems on the pad.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: But why would that be? I mean, certainly any civil engineer knows that he has to handle the normal environments where he is building his building.

MR. SMITH: Well, the answer to that would be yes, except the history in the past ten or fifteen years, freezing pipes in Florida in that area has been a very rare thing. The decision was made to not implement insulation and so forth on the water systems that would preclude rupture of lines, that the risk, the cost was not justified.

[1061] We had the experience then in January '85 flight, and we could not support the launch because of damage to the facility. And since that time we had implemented the plan by which we felt we could minimize the damage, could keep the firing systems and all and the safety systems up in the functional state and support, fully recognizing that doing that we would have to bleed the systems, so we would have ice on the structure.

So I think we went into that evening fully knowing that condition.




VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Let me follow that with the other question I asked Mr. Aldrich, or a variation of that.

At this point in time do you think that the freeze protection scheme that was implemented is an adequate one?

MR. SMITH: No, I do not, and we were not satisfied with that.


DR. KEEL: Mr. Moore, did you know that consistent with the testimony this morning, that Rockwell had apparently said that "Rockwell could not assure it was safe to fly?"

MR. MOORE: Yes, sir, I had some indication of that from a report that Mr. Aldrich had given me. As was mentioned this morning, Mr. Aldrich had an ice team meeting, and with the various project elements around to discuss the impact of ice on the possible damage to the thermal protection system.

Following that ice meeting, which lasted about an hour or so, and I did not attend the particular meeting, Mr. Aldrich came back and said-reported to me that he had given that very careful consideration. He had talked about both the Kennedy people and the Johnson people had taken a look at it and a lot of




analysis on it, but Rockwell did have a concern. He did not indicate that that was a safety of flight concern, and it was more indicated in the thermal protection system which might have some damage that it might have to be repaired and cause some delays to turnaround, and he said that he had tagged up with everybody and he felt that it was all go, and he recommended that we launch, and I accepted his recommendation.

DR. KEEL: Let me go back to the beginning, though.

I said "Did you know that Rockwell said Rockwell cannot assure it was safe to fly." And you said, "Yes, sir."

MR. MOORE: Well, I knew that Rockwell had made a comment. I did not have Rockwell knowledge that Rockwell had talked about being safe to fly. I knew Rockwell expressed some concerns as relayed to me by Mr. Aldrich, and he put those in the context of TPS issues, things that would have to maybe possibly affect turnaround time. But I did not have a feeling that they had expressed anything concerning flight safety.

DR. KEEL: Just one final question.

Based upon all of that, did you think Rockwell was saying go or no go?

MR. MOORE: I didn't really think, from a




Rockwell point of view, I knew how thorough Mr. Aldrich had worked this problem, and I knew he had a lot of people in that particular meeting, and that I looked to Mr. Aldrich for a go on that particular flight. But the thought did not cross my mind that, for example, Rockwell was saying no go. No.

DR. KEEL: Thank you.

[1062] MR. SMITH: Might I add something to that, please?

I came in on the latter part of that meeting, Mr. Aldrich conducted on that morning, and I heard the statements made as Mr. Glaysher stated this morning, and as I understood that, we could not give 100 percent assurance that there was no safety concern. It was my opinion at the end of the discussion that the consensus of the group, including the Rockwell people, that-and I put this in my words, now, and it wasn't stated this way-that the probability of damage from the ice on the structure was no greater than we would normally expect from ice on the external tank during a typical day, and I left that meeting fully convinced that everybody had signed up to the launch. I did not hear any recommendation that said Rockwell does not support launch.

DR. KEEL: I guess the question, though, is




did you hear any recommendation that said Rockwell does support the launch?

MR. SMITH: No, they did not make that recommendation. They did not non-concur, and I have heard people non-concur. I have heard Rockwell non-concur on things.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I guess that illustrates one of the things that obviously has to be addressed. I mean, there are a lot of maybes. A lot of people have been voting maybe or I don't vote. It would seem to me that the decision making process would require people to take stands, and you should have a record of it either in a recording or a piece of paper or something to make it clear. I mean, the Rockwell people clearly think that they indicated that they have been concerned to the point that they did not recommend launch, and apparently that was the first time that they had done it. Apparently they had not taken that position before.

And so they I think believed that they were saying we do not recommend launch. But you, on the other hand, were saying that it was okay to launch. And it seems to me that if you are going to have a decision making process with key people involved, that it ought to be clear where they stand. Otherwise a lot of second guessing.




In any event, let me say that I think the Commission is going to-we are going to have one more witness because he flew up here at our request, Mr. Powers, and we want to complete his testimony today.

But insofar as you gentlemen are concerned, let me say that I think we have finished with this aspect of the investigation in terms of the decision making process. At least we have finished it as far as public testimony is concerned. We will probably want to get some additional information to complete the record. We can do that by deposition or by letters or in other fashions. I don't think it is necessary to continue this discussion on the decision making process.

You will remember that I did say at one point that we thought the decision making process may be flawed I believe I am speaking for the whole Commission when I say that we think it is flawed. And I think probably you gentlemen would agree with us on that, that the process as it worked in this case was clearly flawed because the recommendations that were made were either not fully understood by you or not conveyed to you.

Be that as it may, we appreciate very much the cooperation we have received from all of you, and it has been 100 percent, and you have provided everything that we have asked for. You have been available to testify,




and we appreciate that. And we want to also express our appreciation for all of the things you have done over the years, and we hope you understand that in order to conduct this kind of an investigation, we have to ask a lot of tough questions, and it is not intended in any way to be a [1063] reflection on any of you. We all appreciate what you have done for this country, and we will be in touch with you. We assume that you are working on improvement of the decision making process, and we look forward to further space flights and manned space flights and womanned space flights, and we will look forward to working with you.

And we again appreciate very much your cooperation. And thank you.

MR. ALDRICH: Mr. Chairman, could I make one brief correction to my testimony this morning? I understand this is the simplest way to do it.

I indicated that Mr. Kingsbury from the Marshall Space Flight Center was in the ice meeting that I conducted, and in fact, that was an error. It was Mr. Mindeman from KSC who was there part time during that meeting.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Stevenson made one correction, too, about Jesse Moore was not in a meeting that he said he was.




Do you want to correct the record on that?

MR. MOORE: Yes, I would like to correct the record that Mr. Stevenson indicated this morning that I was in the Ice Team meeting proper. I was not in the Ice Team meeting, and Mr. Arnie Aldrich came back and reported to me the results of that particular Ice Team meeting.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: We will try to make testimony available for you so that you can make any corrections you want to the testimony.

Mr. Aldrich?

MR. ALDRICH: I have one other correction on Mr. Stevenson's testimony. He indicated that I was in both the review of the Ice Team results about 3:00 in the morning and at the meeting at 9:00 a.m., and I was not in the earlier meeting, but I understood the people who were.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Thank you very much, gentlemen.

DR. KEEL: Mr. Powers?

(Witness sworn.)

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Powers, would you give your name and your present employment, please?






MR. POWERS: My name is Ben Powers. I work at Marshall Space Flight Center. I have been working at Marshall in the Propulsion Laboratory for approximately 20 years. I have been recently working in the Solid Rocket Motor Branch for some 14 years. My responsibility is in the design, development and qualification of solid rocket motors.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Were you here yesterday when testimony was taken from some of your colleagues from Marshall?

MR. POWERS: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And you took part in the telecon on January 27, 1986 that was referred to yesterday?

MR. POWERS: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And do you want to recount for the Commission your recollection of that telecon, and particularly your participation in it?

MR. POWERS: I would be pleased to, sir.

There was quite a lengthy telecon, much longer than a normal type thing, and we were called in late at night. The charts were being prepared real time, and we [Ref. 2/14-3]


[1064] 1945


were discussing data even before we were getting the charts in, and the engineers at Morton Thiokol were presenting their case, and I specifically remember Brian Russell going over his charts and Arnie Thompson going over his and also Roger Boisjoly going over his charts.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And they recommended against the launch to begin with?

MR. POWERS: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And do you remember what was said by Mr. Mulloy and Mr. Hardy.?

MR. POWERS: I remember some of the things that Mr. Hardy said, mostly because I was sitting with him. Mr. Mulloy's remarks, really, he was not there, and I can't remember his remarks as well, but I do recall Mr. Hardy's remarks pretty well.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Do you want to describe them, please?

MR. POWERS: He was probing the data, which is typical, trying to ascertain if there was a valid concern with the temperature as it would affect the behavior of the seals at the joints, the field joints, not the nozzle, just the field joints.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And there was testimony yesterday that he at one point said he was appalled, and Thiokol people thought he was appalled at




the decision. Mr. Hardy said he was appalled at the data that was presented.

Were you appalled by the data or the decision?

MR. POWERS: Sir, I fully supported the Thiokol engineering position and was in agreement with it.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And you made that known to Mr. Hardy?

MR. POWERS: No, sir. I report to Mr. John McCarty, and we were caucusing, and I also reported it to Mr. Jim Smith, which is our chief engineer, and this would be a typical thing that we would do. I would report to my boss and to my associate project management in Engineering. I don't want to confuse this.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Did you report, too, that you agreed with the Thiokol engineers?

MR. POWERS: Yes, air.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: To whom did you report?

MR. POWERS: I'm sorry.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Who did you report that to?

MR. POWERS: Mr. John McCarty. He is my-well, he is not my immediate supervisor. He is my deputy lab director, but he was the senior man in line




at that time, and I reported to him that I thought that the temperature would reduce the margin of safety for the joint performance.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And were there others in that telecon that agreed with you, that you know of?

MR. POWERS: I can't identify anyone joining me in that position, sir, I cannot make that statement.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And have you talked to them since, any of the people that were in that telecon, to find out how they stood on the issue?

MR. POWERS: Yes, sir, I have.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And what did you find out? 1064

[1065] MR. POWERS: Some of the engineering people have mentioned that they, too, were concerned, primarily with the temperature effect on the O-ring resilience, the spring-back ability of the O-ring.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Was there anybody who agreed with Mr. Hardy or Mr. Mulloy, as far as you remember, on that telecon?

MR. POWERS: There was no dissent with Mr. Hardy, to my knowledge, other than the discussion that I had. I was the only dissenting engineer.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But the others remained quiet, I assume?

MR. POWERS: Yes, sir.




DR. COVERT: Mr. Powers, yesterday we were talking with Mr. Hardy about the effect of longtime squeeze on the resilience of the O-rings, and their performance if they had been compressed for a substantial period of time, and he said that he had seen no evidence that this was an effect, and in fact, some motors had been stacked for a year and still worked properly.

What is your experience with O-rings that have been compressed for a substantial period of time and then are caused to react by a change in the geometry in which they find themselves?

MR. POWERS: Sir, I find that to be not a problem. I think that they are talking about set, and I am talking about resilience, and they are two different things, and we fully accounted for the fact that we did not think that compression set would be the problem. We were zeroing in on two factors which were resilience and durometer.

DR. COVERT: Do you think that there is an effect upon set? This had been stacked for 28 days, remember, and it had been hot, cold, hot, cold.

MR. POWERS: We account fully for that, sir, and I have no concern with compression set for that configuration.




DR. COVERT: How do you account for it?

MR. POWERS: We find that that particular selection of O-ring material is one of the very best materials that one could select for a compression set performance, and I do want to make sure I differentiate the difference between set and resilience. Resilience was a concern. I don't want to come across wrong. I would like to be understood, and I was concerned about resilience.

DR. COVERT: I understand what you are saying. Set is the permanent deformation or reluctance to change its shape.

MR. POWERS: Yes, sir.

DR. COVERT: And resilience is the sort of a short term spring back, I guess.

MR. POWERS: Yes, sir, which would be affected by temperature.


MR. POWERS: Yes, sir, and that was the concern.

DR. COVERT: How do you account for set?

MR. POWERS: We have data that we have collected, and on this specific compound of 0-ring material for hours versus the effect, and we have that characterized, and that data is available, and we do




take that into account, and we degrade the performance of the O-ring accordingly for the characteristic data that we do have for set. And we are very confident that we understand compression set, sir.

[1066] DR. COVERT: So that the performance of the O-ring is apt to be poorer after 21 days in the stack than it would be after three days in the stack?

MR. POWERS: Yes, sir. If it were one hour versus 1,000 hours versus 10,000 hours, as time increases, set will degrade the performance, yes, sir, that is correct.

DR. COVERT: Thank you very much.

MR. POWERS: Yes, sir, thank you.

DR. WALKER: Mr. Powers, I realize that you agreed with the conclusions of the Thiokol engineers, but do you think they made a convincing case? Mr. Hardy and Mr. Mulloy have said that the data they presented in their view was not convincing, that the data was inconclusive.

Do you think that the Thiokol engineers made a good case for their view that temperature was a serious problem?

MR. POWERS: Now, that is hard for me to quantify, sir.

DR. WALKER: I understand it is an opinion.




MR. POWERS: would say that the data that they presented was clear to me because I am very familiar with that data. I would think that vice versa, other people that were not as familiar with that data would be somewhat less appreciative of the effect.

Did that answer your question?

DR. WALKER: I think that is a very good answer.

What you are saying is that someone without your background in the subject might be confused or unpersuaded by the data?

MR. POWERS: Yes, sir. I think the data would be more difficult to follow unless someone were working with that data, and it is a technical issue, and being familiar with it, then I was easily persuaded that the temperature was something that would degrade the margin.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Were the other people working with you that you say may have the same point of view?

MR. POWERS: I don't understand.

Which people, sir?

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, I asked you whether there were others at Marshall who agreed with you, who agreed with Thiokol, and you said yes, you thought there




were some.

MR. POWERS: Do you mean at that telecon, or later on?


MR. POWERS: Yes, sir, I understand the question, later on, okay.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And are there a number of such people? And I don't want you to name them. Just tell us are there a number of such people?

MR. POWERS: There are some that share my opinion, sir, yes, there are. I would not say that I am-I represent the majority report.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I understand. But you indicated that you think you have had more experience in this field than some others, and the others might not understand.

Are there others like yourself who have quite a lot of experience who would agree with you now?

MR. POWERS: Yes, sir.

MR. ACHESON: Mr. Powers, were you familiar at that time, January 27, with the work of the Thiokol task force on the O-ring problem back from the summer of '85?

[1067] MR. POWERS: Yes. I was not on that task force, I was not assigned to it, but I am familiar with




it, sir.

MR. ACHESON: Can you tell us how far, and particularly how far up in your organization, that educational product was spread or was passed along?

MR. POWERS: It was certainly passed all the way through our engineering.

MR. ACHESON: Was Mr. Hardy familiar with that work?

MR. POWERS: I would certainly think so, sir. I can't answer that specifically, but we were working vigorously, and I don't see how it could have escaped him.

DR. WALKER: Mr. Powers, the emphasis on temperature which characterized the meeting on the 27th seemed to have been considerably more than the emphasis when the task force was started and during the task force activities.

Do you understand why the Thiokol engineers did not emphasize the role of temperature more before this particular occasion arose?

MR. POWERS: No, sir, I can't explain that to you, sir.

DR. WALKER: Do you think, however, they did have the understanding or at least the information?

MR. POWERS: Without a doubt.




DR. WALKER: And that information was apparently not emphasized in the briefings they gave to Marshall until this particular occasion of 52-L?

And I am trying to understand how well the information about the temperature concern as opposed to the general concern for the seal was emphasized.

MR. POWERS: I would say the temperature concern was not placed in the front row seat, if I might use that word. The data was there, it was presented. I would say the emphasis was not, and certainly in hindsight, and it is not fair for me to talk at this time. I would say that it should probably be emphasized more, but here again, I want to emphasize that that is speaking today.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: I would just like you to characterize for us the nature of your concerns in terms of what things might cause what consequences with which you would be displeased in the sealing process.

MR. POWERS: First of all, I would have to say that the extremely cold temperatures that we just heard the testimony about are certainly outside of the norm, and we don't expect to see that very often at KSC, and it is not something that you are working with often, and I was concerned that those temperatures, as I understood




them, were outside the data base.

So that would be my first concern, that one would prefer to launch within his data base, and as I understood the presentations from the Marshall-or excuse me, from the Thiokol personnel, that the resilience would degrade the O-ring springback force, and that it would also increase the durometer, and of course, there is the stiffening of the grease, the O-ring lubricant that we pack into the joint. And as you know, it is very critical for us to achieve due to the rotation and dynamics of the hardware, to achieve a rapid seal. And we would like to see that achieved at 100 psi, certainly no more than 200 psi. We would like to see a hand seal achieved at 200 psi. And

those are talking 100- and 200-millisecond timeframes. Those are fast.

[1068] And the degradation of temperature on the performance of the timing was a concern to me, and I don't know whether I've met you head on there or not.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: That's exactly what I wanted to know. Thank you.

GENERAL KUTYNA: Mr. Powers, just a couple of questions to put this in context.

How long have you been concerned about temperature?




MR. POWERS: I was alerted to this problem some 6 months ago, and there was work that was ongoing and was coming up to speed.

GENERAL KUTYNA: And the two briefings that we have talked about in the last two days, there was a briefing in July which had a great section on resiliency, which means temperature, and then the briefing in August that went clear up to NASA headquarters had as its first bullet on the concerns chart again resiliency.

MR. POWERS: I might have missed it by a couple of months, sir, but yes, sir, those are the times, that is true.

GENERAL KUTYNA: But how can you say that NASA was not aware at the higher levels of the concern with temperature if those briefings went forward?

MR. POWERS: Well, I'm not saying that NASA wasn't aware of the concern. I don't think this was a thing that was highlighted in terms of center stage. We were more concerned, I would think, about at the time of the very heavy erosion, that we were seeing on the nozzle joint, and that was a very serious concern of ours at that time.

DR. WALKER: One more question, Mr. Powers.

Were you aware of any concern about the




temperature properties of the putty and its loss of resilience at low temperature?

MR. POWERS: Sir, I consider the putty totally plastic.

DR. WALKER: Even at the low temperatures where this launch occurred?

MR. POWERS: Sir, I have no data at very low temperatures or had not the data at that time at a very low temperature that would have concerned me other than I would think that it would slow down the process of pressurization. I would certainly have to agree that the putty would be slowed down with the low temperature.

DR. WALKER: Are you saying that this launch was outside of the temperature range for which there was information on the putty?

MR. POWERS: I don't know of any data that we were working with that was below the like 40 degree range.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Powers. We appreciate your coming on such short notice. I hope we didn't ruin your day.

MR. POWERS: You are more than welcome, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And we will recess now, and we have not decided when we will have our next public




session, but probably it will not be next week. It certainly will not be Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and maybe not next week at all.

So we will make an announcement later on.

Thank you very much.

(Whereupon, at 4:15 o'clock p.m., the Commission recessed subject to the call of the Chair.)

February 26, 1986 Session (part 2) | Volume 5 index | March 7, 1986 Session (part 1)