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.



Dean Acheson Auditorium
Department of State
23rd & C Streets, N.W.
Washington, D.C.

The Commission convened at 9:40 a.m.


NEIL A. ARMSTRONG, Vice Chairman
DR. SALLY RIDE, Commissioner
DR. ALBERT WHEELON, Commissioner
MR. ROBERT RUMMEL, Commissioner
DR. EUGENE COVERT, Commissioner
MR. DAVID C. ACHESON, Commissioner
MR. ROBERT HOTZ, Commissioner






CHAIRMAN ROGERS: The Commission will come to order, please. Today the Commission will hear presentations by representatives of NASA's Johnson Space Center. We are interested in operational aspects of the Space Shuttle System with particular emphasis on the methods by which technical and safety concerns are considered.

It might be well to refer again now to the mandate given to this Commission by the President. It is: one, to review the circumstances surrounding the accident, to establish the probable cause or causes of the accident; and two, to develop recommendations for corrective or other action based upon the Commission's findings and determinations.

The matters we will discuss today may not directly relate to the cause or causes of the Challenger accident; however, they do relate to the second part of the Commission's mandate, to make recommendations on how to make future flights safer.

It is in that connection that the Commission is giving careful attention to concerns expressed by astronauts because the Space Shuttle Program will only succeed in the future if the competent and highly qualified men and women who fly the Shuttle have


[1406] 2364


confidence in the system.

One other point before we get started. The agenda for today includes a presentation by the Office of Flight Crew Operations. Dr. Ride, who works in that office, feels that it would be more appropriate for her not to take part in the questioning of witnesses from that office, and of course the Commission agrees.

Now we will proceed, Dr. Keel, with the witnesses.

DR. KEEL: Mr. Abbey, Mr. Young, Mr. Weitz, Mr. Crippen, and Mr. Hartsfield, please.

(Witnesses sworn.)




CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Gentlemen, we would appreciate it if you would identify yourselves and give a little background about each of you with particular reference to the astronaut program and any flights that you have taken part in.

MR. ABBEY: I'm George Abbey, the Director of




Flight Crew Operations. I'm a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. I served in the Air Force as a pilot for 13 years and received a master's degree in electrical engineering and subsequently was assigned to various management and technical positions since that time. I was assigned to NASA in 1964; assistant to the Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office, Assistant to the Director of the Johnson Space Center, Dr. Gilruth and Dr. Kraft, and then Director of Flight Operations and more recently Director of Flight Crew Operations.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Abbey.

Mr. Young, would you want to move the microphone over a little bit in front of you? Thank you.

MR. YOUNG: I'm John Young, Chief of the Astronaut Office. I've been working in the Navy from 1952. 1 went to Georgia Tech, bachelor of aeronautical engineering. I've been working for NASA since 1962 and been working on the Space Shuttle since December of 1972, and been Chief of the Astronaut Office since about 1975.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Which flights did you take part in?

MR. YOUNG: Gemini III, Gemini X, Apollo X,




Apollo XVI and STS-1 and 9.

MR. WEITZ: I'm Paul Weitz. I was a Naval aviator when selected as an astronaut in 1966. I have been in Houston since then. I'm Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office. I flew on the first Skylab flight in 1973 and on STS-6, the first flight of Challenger in 1983.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: You're Deputy to Mr. Abbey?

MR. WEITZ: No, sir, to Mr. Young.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: To Mr. Young I understand. So it's Mr. Abbey is head of the office and is not an astronaut, yourself and Mr. Young, and then you are Mr. Young's Deputy, is that right?

MR. WEITZ: Yes, sir.


[1408] MR. CRIPPEN: My name is Bob Crippen. I'm a Captain in the United States Navy. I received a bachelor of aerospace engineering from the University of Texas. I've been assigned at the Johnson Space Center since 1969 as an astronaut.

I served in support roles on the Skylab program, the Apollo-Soyuz program, worked on the development of the Space Shuttle, and served as pilot on STS-1, and have been commander of three subsequent Shuttle flights and missions STS-7, 41-C and 41-G, and




have spent a period of time serving as Deputy to Mr. Abbey as the Flight Crew Operations Director. I'm currently assigned as the commander of the first flight from Vandenberg.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: You flew with Dr. Ride I assume?

MR. CRIPPEN: I flew with Dr. Ride on two flights, STS-7 and mission 41-G.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Thank you. Mr. Hartsfield.

MR. HARTSFIELD: I'm Hank Hartsfield. I have a bachelor in physics from Auburn, a masters of engineering science from the University of Tennessee.

My background is in the Air Force, a fighter pilot. I joined NASA in 1970 as an astronaut. I worked in support of Apollo XVI and all the Skylab flights, in CAPCOM's support crew. I was a pilot on STS-4 and a commander of flights 41-D and 61-A.

I also participated in the developmental phase of the Shuttle.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Thank you very much.

I understand, Mr. Abbey, now you have a statement that you will make and begin with?

MR. ABBEY: I thought I might clear up a little confusion relative to the organizations. I was going to tell you a little bit about

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Why don't you move the mike over if you're going to do the talking for a while.




MR. ABBEY: If I could have that first chart, please.

(Viewgraph: [Ref. 4/3-4]

MR. ABBEY: I've tried to show on this chart where we fit as far as the organization is concerned. We are the Flight Crew Operations Directorate, the one outlined in the dark lines, and I am the Director of that organization.

We have two major activities within the Directorate, the Astronaut Office and then we also have the Aircraft Operations Division.

The Astronaut Office has 91 astronauts currently assigned along with supporting personnel. In the Aircraft Operations Division we operate 35 aircraft and these vary from the Shuttle carrier aircraft that ferries the orbiter after we land, if we're landing on the West Coast, to Kennedy and around the country.

We have astronauts involved, I think, in a




variety of activities, and we will try to cover that a little later, but I thought I might just touch on the fact that we have astronauts participating in nearly every phase of the program.

[1409] We have astronauts assigned at KSC doing the test and checkout work in support of the vehicle at KSC. We have other astronauts that are assigned to the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory, where they are doing the engineering and software verification tests.

In Houston we have astronauts doing design and development work, doing engineering Simulations. We also have astronauts assigned to the flight control team when we fly the flights and as we prepare to fly the flights as CAPCOMs and in other roles supporting the mission.

So we are involved, and the Directorate is involved, I think, throughout all phases of the program.

Could I get the next chart, please?

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 4/3-2]

MR. ABBEY: This shows the Directorate, and again we have the Astronaut Office which is headed by Captain Young. His Deputy is Paul Weitz, on John's right.

Then we have the Aircraft Operations Division. That is headed by Joe Algranti, who is




probably one of the more senior aviators in NASA, and we have an astronaut serving as his Deputy on a rotating basis, Don Williams. We have rotated a number of astronauts in that position.

I think it has been very good for the organization because that Aircraft Operations Division is primarily involved in supporting the astronauts, and I think it has given a better understanding to both the Astronaut Office and to the Aircraft Operations Division of the objectives and problems at both organizations.

So that is something that we started sometime ago, and I think it allows us to use some of the experience and talent that we have within the Astronaut Office.

We also have a Vehicle Integration Test Office, and that is primarily providing engineering support to the astronauts at KSC as we support, test and check out operations there. They are also involved in preparing to do the work at Vandenberg in support of Captain Crippen and his crew.

We also have a Payload Specialist Liaison Office. That is headed by Don Bourque, and this group is responsible for bringing in the payload specialists that fly with us, training those individuals, and integrating them into our activities and integrating




them into the flight crews. That office has been a part of our organization probably only about six months.

As far as how we operate and how we work, John is going to talk a little bit about what astronauts do other than when they fly and maybe give you a better understanding of what we do and where we have people assigned.

Paul Weitz is going to talk about our participation in all the various activities across the program; the boards, the panels, many groups that we get involved in.

Then Bob Crippen is going to talk about our involvement in the Flight Readiness Reviews and how we participate in the L-minus Reviews and then how we participate in the launch decision. They will cover that in some detail.

As far as how issues and problems get identified, we have people, as I say, involved across the program. They bring these issues and we status them. John and Paul status them in pilots' meetings at least once a week where we have-the astronauts have opportunities to raise issues.

Of course, during the course of a week daily they will come forward with problems. Usually if they can be resolved, John or P.J. will resolve those


[1410] 2372


problems. If I need to get into it, they will bring them forward to me. I will attempt to resolve them and, if necessary, if I can't I will go forward to the individual I work for, who is head of Space Operations, or I will go to the Program Manager, or I will go to the Center Director, or in certain instances I will go to the Associate Administrator for Space Flight.

We have, of course I think, a lot of inputs that come in. We are successful, I think, on getting a number of those inputs accepted. Sometimes they get fully accepted. Sometimes they get partially accepted, and of course I think sometimes they don't get accepted. Usually those are due to programmatic considerations.

Usually if they are not accepted, they are usually due to some programmatic considerations where they weigh the inputs that we give them and for other reasons decide that they would do otherwise, so we will talk a little more about the specifics I think a little later.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Abbey, I'm having a little trouble with seeing the chart. Mr. Young is Director of Flight Crew Operations?

MR. ABBEY: No. I am up in the top of the chart, and then John is in the head of the Astronaut Office.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So they've got their own chart. John is head of the




Astronaut Office?

MR. ABBEY: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Who do you report to?

MR. ABBEY: I report to Cliff Charlesworth, who is the Director of Space Operations. We are one of three elements that make up this Space Operations Directorate. There are two other organizations that are part of that organization, and we are only one part of it. We report through Mr. Charlesworth to the Center Director.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Are all of the astronauts in the Astronaut Office under Mr. Young?

MR. ABBEY: Yes, they all are assigned to that office. We do have individuals, as I say, working in other jobs as collateral duties, so they still have to keep up with all their astronaut duties and all their training but we use them in other positions.

As I say, within Aircraft Operations we have the Deputy of that division is Don Williams, one of the astronauts, and he has flown once and is scheduled to fly again as a commander.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So Mr. Crippen and Mr. Hartsfield are both involved in the Astronaut Office and they have other assignments, too?

MR. ABBEY: Yes, they are both actively




involved. Mr. Crippen is my Deputy, and then I also have other individuals that are involved as technical assistants, and we rotate astronauts through that position. So astronauts are involved, I think, in every phase of the Directorate's operation.

I think that has been very beneficial to us because they have a direct involvement in the management, and we can make use of their experience, I think that has been very good for us.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Okay, I think I understand now. Mr. Crippen, then, is your Deputy?


CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Weitz is Mr. Young's Deputy?


CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Hartsfield works in the Astronaut Office?

MR. ABBEY: Yes, sir, he works for Mr. Weitz and Mr. Young.

[1411] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And he has other assignments as well?

MR. ABBEY: Yes, he does.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I think I'm clear now.


MR. ABBEY: John is going to touch on that, talk about the




different assignments and where they get involved and how Henry, as well as the other astronauts, get assigned to other duties.


MR. ABBEY: So I will turn it over to John.


MR. YOUNG: Give me the first chart, please.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 4/3-3]

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I think maybe one of the -reasons I'm having a little trouble is my name tag blocks out-there.

MR. YOUNG: You can see this is a pretty straightforward requirement for astronauts, but we are providing those flight crews for NASA space vehicles and when we do that they get an awful lot of time in flight planning meetings and simulators and test and checkout and training. The commander will get about 1,000 hours probably, the pilot 500-plus, a mission specialist 500 to 700 depending upon what kind of assignments they have and training.

When the commander is assigned to a mission, no matter what it says in any book anywhere, the commander is responsible for getting that mission organized and getting it going and getting his crew trained and getting everybody ready to fly. When he is in that




machine he is responsible for that part of the thing, too, from the time it lifts off to the time it lands. All the things that he can do he will be responsible for.

When you talk about participating in design and development, what you're really talking about is hours, and hours and days of meetings and reviews and engineering simulations. You talk about operating techniques and procedures, you're talking about more days and more meetings, desktop reviews, engineering simulations, reviews of malfunction procedures, and so on and so on.

The test and checkout, more time on your back and simulators and places like that, a lot of places around the country. So the first four bullets really specify the kind of people that we really need in the Astronaut Office. We need pilots, engineers and scientists, the best people that we can get who are interested in taking care of those first four bullets, and I mean they have to be interested.

The qualities that we look for besides being pilots, engineers and scientists are desire, dedication, determination, drive and the ability to work with others. It is particularly important in flight crew teamwork because it is critical to the success of every




mission. You take a flight crew with five people in it. Those five people may know the vehicle thoroughly, and when they learn to work together as a team they can do things that people couldn't even imagine, that they wouldn't even imagine.

But most of the work that is done in the Astronaut Office, strangely enough, is desk work. Eighty to ninety percent of the time it is behind a desk somewhere, and that is just the way it is. It is studying and figuring out how they're going to do the right job, and that is the kind of [1412] people we want and that we're looking for. If they're interested in that kind of work, we can use you.

The next chart, please.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 4/3-4]

MR. YOUNG: This chart was made before we had the 51-L accident, and at that time you can see that we were primarily involved with flight crews assigned to missions. I'm not going to go into the second bullet because we have a lot of mission development work going on. We're always looking at new things to do, but I would like to talk a little bit about the third bullet, mission support.

You just heard we have people that are in the mission control center. They work days and nights in




integrated simulations. They work 24 hours a day around the clock when we have missions going on at Kennedy, and we have a full team of people down there, the cape crusaders who support, test and check out the vehicle and payloads 24 hours a day for as long as it takes to get them checked out.

The software in the Space Shuttle is a very interesting thing. There are about 110 pages you can call up on a cathode ray tube that you have to know the information that is on there so you can react to it.

There is also a thing called program notes, 84, at last count of program notes plus another 20 or so depending on what software drop you have, that crews have to know how to operate in real time so that they don't do something, talking to the software, that might mess up their system operations.

You have people supporting Johnson Space Center Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory. When this chart was made, they were working two shifts a day, five days a week, but they work around the clock when necessary. Our flight data file is a very interesting compilation of procedures and techniques established over the years for normal missions that weigh 85 to 95 pounds. That is a lot of books. For a space lab mission or something like a space lab mission, it could weigh as much as 108 pounds.




Ascent and entry is a separate bullet that people work on, and the reason that is so is because there are about 175 separate crew procedures involved in doing assents and entries, and people have to know those and practice them a lot. We're right now working on aim simulation in the vertical motion simulator to do some things to learn more about landing and rollout, and I will talk some more about that later.

The next chart, please.

(Viewgraph [Ref. 4/3-5]

MR. YOUNG: This is what we are doing right now. We have cut way back on flight crews. We are still working with the last four assigned.

I won't talk very much about this chart except to show you that the next to last line, the 51-L accident investigation and recovery-and that number is not right. It changes daily. I think yesterday it was 63 people, and when more people get back from spring break there will be more people on that chart.

Ninety-five percent of this work that the Astronaut Office is doing is desk work, and the part that is not, I'm sure, is not very pleasant because it mainly involves sifting through crashtype wreckage.

Let me show you the next chart, please.

[1413] (Viewgraph.) [Ref 4/3-6]




MR. YOUNG: This is what we did last year. It is called the 1985 Astronaut Activity. Last year was an incredibly good year for the space program. We flew nine Space Shuttle missions, which was four more than we flew in 1984, and we almost flew ten but we had two hold kills and one remanifest.

People say, well, that's bad luck. Well, I tell you when you have a hold kill in this vehicle the best place to have it is before liftoff. There is no doubt about it. We had to do a remanifest, and if you're not ready to fly that is exactly what you ought to do, so I think those were good luck.

But in terms of training with respect to crew requirements and almost everybody else's requirement, that was equivalent to about 11 flights. Since we have people all over the agency working in almost every area

DR. FEYNMAN: Excuse me, sir. What's a hold kill and what's a remanifest?

MR. YOUNG: That's a good question. A hold kill is when you're down there at the launch pad and you get right up to engine start, and the engine doesn't start or it starts and then shuts down because it has a problem.

A remanifest is when you roll back and decide to go with another payload, so you put a new payload in. I'm sorry.




DR. FEYNMAN: Thank you.

MR. YOUNG: There is, in terms of requirements there is an awful lot of people who make this program work, as you all know by now, in engineering, in training, in mission operations and vehicle turnaround and payload test and checkout and so forth and so forth.

With my people all over the area, I can tell you that we were working about as hard as this system can work from where I could see last year. We really did some amazing things. Because we had such good flight crew training we were able to do some of these exercises, some of which require enormous amounts of crew coordination that you would never even try.

The extravehicular activity bullets down there, for example. The first one was a try to restart a communications satellite, the LEASAT that had gone bad, and the next extravehicular was a teamwork repair of that same satellite, and then the third was a space construction demonstration, all of which required all five people on each mission to work together.

It was a very good year also from the standpoint of flying. We flew 58 seats with 54 astronauts, and we got 14 new crew people experienced in space flight, so by the end of 1985 we had a really good effort going. Right now we have 57 of 91 astronauts who




have Space Shuttle flight experience, and so right at this moment we have a lot of professional flight crews with a lot of experience.

They are ready to deliver and do all the things that we need to do in space with people, but I expect until we recover from this accident it will be a while before they get to try out those skills again.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Excuse me. May I ask, did at the end of 1985 you feel or your office feel that you had had too much to do in 1985?

MR. YOUNG: I think unless-it was hard for me to see how we could do a lot more with our people unless we do something different, and there are ongoing plans to improve that situation, [1414] but it really-we really had some people that were just working long hours and they were working long periods of time.

I would like to say that we could do more missions than that, but from an operational standpoint it would be tough unless we do something different, which people are proposing to do, and you will hear some about that.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: In other words, you thought the activity in 1985 was about all you could handle, but that the pressure in 1985 was not too great, is that correct?




MR. YOUNG: I thought 1985 was a really outstanding year for the space program.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But that if you had had to do more that year, it might have been too much?

MR. YOUNG: I think we would have been pushing it, yes, sir.


MR. RUMMEL: What do you mean by new crew people? Are these people who have not flown before?

MR. YOUNG: Yes, sir. They are people who got space flight experience in 1985.

MR. RUMMEL: Would that include people like payload specialists?

MR. YOUNG: No, sir, these are just people that work in the office on a regular basis.

MR. RUMMEL: In other words, the 54 would be a total number, 54 astronauts?

MR. YOUNG: In the office, yes, sir.

MR. RUMMEL: In the office.

MR. YOUNG: Yes, sir.

MR. RUMMEL: I see. All right. Thank you.

MR. HOTZ: John, in view of your statement that 1985 was about as hard as you could push the system with nine flights, how do you view the 15 launch schedule for this year as far as the load on your system?

MR. YOUNG: It is really hard for me to assess it from where I sit, but I think that it would have been




pretty tough.

MR. HOTZ: Thanks.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Okay, go ahead, John.

MR. YOUNG: Well, that's about the size of what I had to say in my prepared statement.

MR. ABBEY: Paul Weitz was going to go next.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: We want to ask you some questions later on, but we'll come back to you, Mr. Young. Fine.

MR. WEITZ: If I could have my first chart, please?

(Viewgraph.) (Ref. 4/3-7]

MR. WEITZ: Mr. Chairman, what I'd like to do is, without going into detail on this again is to kind of round out a little bit what John touched on, was to point out to you, to try to give you some feel, you and the other members of the Commission, for the involvement of the Astronaut Office in the day-to-day activities at the various levels of the program as they occur.

The Program Requirements Control Board, to take the first bullet for example, is a board that is what we call level two, which is chaired by Mr. Aldrich, to whom you've already spoken and will later today. The purpose of that board is to approve most changes to the Shuttle


[1415] 2385


transportation system both as they pertain to the fleet generically or any changes that may be made to a specific unique vehicle for any particular purpose.

Another very important level is the Configuration Control Board, which is at level three, which is obviously the next level down below Mr. Aldrich. They have significant but limited authority to authorize changes of the same type that the PRCB would do. Their primary purpose in life is, as their name implies, is to maintain a record of the configuration of the vehicles so we really know what we're flying, and that is a lot more significant than it perhaps sounds.

Another, if we go down to the fourth bullet, the Orbiter Avionics Software Control Board is essentially the same type of activity and control of the software. Remember that, as you have probably been briefed, that this vehicle flies totally by wire.

Everything in it is controlled by the computers, and the software control and design is very, very important in every aspect of managing this vehicle, both on orbit and during the active assent and entry flight phases. So this is essentially the software equivalent of the PRCB, as we have referred to the Program Requirements Control Board.

Another significant one is the next to the




last bullet, the Mission Integration Control Board, which primarily its primary purpose is to assure that the Shuttle transportation system will in fact support the missions that are assigned to it.

They are the folks, for example, who decide that-and these folks work for Mr. Aldrich, and they will decide to remanifest, for example, if the situation warrants, to use John's previous example.

Could I have the next page, please?

(Viewgraph [Ref. 4/3-8]

MR. WEITZ: We have many other functions, as you can see here. For example, the Flight Operations Review is a periodic assessment of our progress toward the planned flight rate. This looks at it from an overall programmatic point of view to see that we are doing the things we can in the right manner to get to where it is we're trying to go as far as our manifest and our flight schedule.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Which one is that?

MR. WEITZ: That's the first one, sir, on the second page, the Flight Operations Review.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Just to make it a little more easy at least for me to understand, in the event of a problem with the joint that caused the trouble in 51-L, when information developed about that which one of




these groups would that information normally go to?

Would it be-in other words if you have trouble on a flight with blow-by and it was clear from that flight that there was erosion and blow-by and it became a problem, how would that information be conveyed to these panels, and who would convey it?

MR. WEITZ: I'm not, I think, well versed or qualified enough to answer that question. I would prefer, if you don't mind, that you address that to Mr. Aldrich when he is on later because that is within his organization.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: In other words, you wouldn't know how that would get-I'm trying to find out how that information gets to the astronaut community, and I gather in this case it didn't.

[1416] MR. WEITZ: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And the information about the joint that failed and we think probably caused the accident was not known to any of you gentlemen, as I understand it.

MR. WEITZ: That is true, which means, therefore, that if it surfaced at one of these activities as represented on these pages is either we were not made aware of it while we were there or we did not realize the significance of the item.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, I gather from so far in our investigation that it wasn't presented to you from an




organizational standpoint. None of these groups knew about it, or at least you didn't know about it. That is correct, isn't it? None of you knew about the problems that you had been having with this joint?

MR. WEITZ: Yes, sir, that is correct.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I guess one of the things we have been trying to find out is how that happened. How did it happen that the astronauts who are so vitally concerned with safety aspects didn't know about this problem?

MR. WEITZ: That is part of what we're trying to reconstruct, also.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I guess my question is where would you normally have expected that information to go organizationally? Which one of these groups would normally, or should have rather than normally, should have received that information?

MR. ABBEY: I think, if I might answer that, if it was a flight anomaly it usually would come up at the Flight Readiness Review, which Mr. Crippen is going to talk about in a minute.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Okay, thank you.

MR. WEITZ: Well, but as a design change I would expect it to show up, if it is recognized as a problem, and something potentially requiring a design




change, it would probably show up at the first bullet on the first page.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, let's be specific because obviously I'm having a little problem with so many suborganizations. I understand it is necessary, and you do a wonderful job, but for us to decide where it should have-where that information should have gone. In this case beginning in August of 1985 concern had been expressed to a lot of people about this joint and about this seal and about the O-ring and about putty and so forth, and at that point there were tests being made to possibly redesign that joint.

Now, what I have trouble understanding is why none of you gentlemen knew about that. That was a redesign question at that time. They were considering the redesign of it at the beginning of 1985, and they were considering the redesign of that joint even at the time the accident happened, and yet none of the astronauts were given that information.

I'm asking the question to see if we can find out what happened in the system that caused that failure, that you didn't know anything about it. Well, we will get to Mr. Crippen later. Go ahead.

MR. WEITZ: We do not have an answer to that, Mr. Rogers.




CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I wasn't pressing you. I'm just trying to find out why it might happen, because one of the things we're going to have to consider in our report is what can we do to recommend corrective action so that it doesn't happen again so that everyone, particularly the astronauts, are aware of these problems when they arise.

[1417] Now, we realize that you're not going to be aware of every single problem, but certainly critical ones like this that had gotten to the point where a redesign is under consideration, it is difficult for us to understand why you didn't know about it.

I can see why Mr. Young and others were upset about it, Mr. Hartsfield, I know, I noticed the same thing.

MR. WEITZ: We feel the system is in place but it broke down in some way, and I think part of the message that comes across here, perhaps, is we do not have enough people in the Astronaut Office to be intimately involved in all of these details along the way. I think from John's presentation, and you can see from some of these activities, these do not represent all of the activities of these various boards and panels that go on at the Johnson Space Center, either, and that we must in




fact have a system that does identify and correct these deficiencies.

MR. HOTZ: Mr. Weitz, do you think the joint problem is the kind of problem that should have surfaced in Flight Readiness Reviews or configuration control boards or wherever, that it ought to have come to your attention?

MR. WEITZ: I don't see how we could say otherwise, Mr. Hotz I have to say I believe that, since it turned out to be apparently a fatal flaw.

MR. HOTZ: Well, we're interested in your opinions. That is why we're asking these questions.

MR. WEITZ: Yes, sir. The answer is yes.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Thank you. Go ahead.

MR. WEITZ: As we move down this page, this mainly is a representation of how we get out of the design and engineering type of activities and into the mission and flight specific planning activities.

All of these groups are related one to the other. They tie together in various ways, and we either directly or indirectly have tried to maintain awareness and cognizance of what is discussed and what will be discussed and what has been decided at these various boards. As I say, we can't always go but we are within the Space Operations Directorate.




One of the other divisions was the Mission Operations Division. Those are where the flight directors are resident, and the flight and controllers, and they are our principal representatives at many of these boards and panels.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: I'm sorry. Could you say that again, Paul.

MR. WEITZ: Yes. The folks in MOD, the Missions Operations Directorate.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Are representatives of whom?

MR. WEITZ: We often depend upon them to represent us, either directly or indirectly, at these different boards and panels when we can't make it. We lean heavily upon those folks, the flight directors and the flight controllers, to keep us up to speed and apprised of what is going on because those are the operational system experts.

If you have no further questions, Mr. Rogers, Mr. Chairman, I think I'll leave this viewgraph and turn it over to Bob Crippen, who will discuss a little bit about our involvement in the mission specific activities.

MR. CRIPPEN: Yes, as George Abbey, John Young and Paul Weitz have indicated, the Astronaut Office is intimately involved with all phases of the program.


[1418] 2393


Obviously one that you've brought out shows a breakdown somewhere, but it is not because we don't think we're involved.

What my remarks are going to be directed toward, what it takes in the final week or so prior to launch, the major milestones that we go through in deciding that we are ready to fly. There are many things that lead up to a mission, many meetings, many milestones, and I'm only going to address those that occur in the final weeks.

If we could go to chart C-2, please?

(Viewgraph C-2.) [Ref. 4/3-9]

MR. CRIPPEN: The first one is the Flight Readiness Review, which was alluded to earlier. The Flight Readiness Review occurs approximately one to two weeks prior to flight. It is a Level I, meaning the Associate Administrator for Space Flight is the gentleman that is the main leader of that particular meeting.

One of the prime things that we do in a Flight Readiness Review is review the anomalies that have occurred on previous missions and decide how we have resolved those or why we think it is acceptable to go fly with those.

Specifically in mentioning the joint problem,




I was the participant representing the Flight Crew Operations. As I indicated on the second bullet there, we normally are represented by the Director of Flight Crew Operations, George Abbey or myself; the Deputy, as his representative; and a senior member of the Flight Crew or Astronaut Office. Normally it is the one that we refer to as our Deputy for Integrated Ops.

On Mission 51-E, which was the mission that we flew right after 51-C where we did have a blow-by problem, that was presented, and it was presented that we had had a blow-by and that there was sooting. In truth, from my perception it wasn't considered that much of a big deal, and it wasn't like we had a major catastrophe awaiting in front of us. I guess the emphasis was not such that one would think that it was the major problem that it was.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Who presented that anomaly?

MR. CRIPPEN: That was presented by the Marshall Space Flight Center. In going through their stuff on the solid rocket boosters. It was presented as an anomaly and, if my memory serves me right, we had had a putty change on the joint just prior to that, and it was alluded that perhaps the putty modification may have had something to do with that but that it really wasn't that big of a deal.




That was the only specific flight that I can remember, although I think in some other Flight Readiness Reviews that perhaps was discussed.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Crippen, looking at a document that related to that Flight Readiness Review, I notice that the resolution said acceptable risk because of limited exposure and redundancy on the seal.


CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Did you at that time realize that the Criticality One list had indicated that there was no redundancy?

MR. CRIPPEN: I did not, and I was not aware of the waiver that had changed the joint from a 1-R to a 1, and I was not aware of the rotation problem. If I had been aware of that in association with the sitting I would have taken the problem much more seriously.


[1419] MR. CRIPPEN: So at the Flight Readiness Review we do go through all of the anomalies from the previous flights, and if it is-usually what we are addressing is the flight just prior, and since we are also rotating vehicles now, orbiters, we also go back to the last flight of the orbiter that we are just getting ready to fly.

In addition, we get essentially a go from all of the levels of the program that we are ready to go in




the mission, and sometimes it's normal that we do receive action items out of these meetings that are to be closed prior to the actual flight.

Could we go to chart C-3?

(Viewgraph C-3.) [Ref. 4/3-10]

MR. CRIPPEN: The next major milestone is addressed at the Launch Minus One Day Review, which is just that. One day prior to the flight we will hold another Level I meeting, and it is primarily a final tagup looking at the actions as have been closed from the Flight Readiness Review.

It looks at specifics like what is the weather prediction for tomorrow and any other anomalies that might have occurred in that period of a week. In general, it is more or less of a final tagup, and again every element of the program gives a final go.

We are represented again at that meeting normally by Mr. Abbey and Captain Young. Now, that is the minimum representation. We quite often have other people that will attend or be on a telecon hookup. For example, the Deputy of Flight Crew Operations normally monitors that from Houston.

Could we go to chart C-4, please?

(Viewgraph C-4.) [Ref 4/3-11]

MR. CRIPPEN: When we get into the final




launch count there are numerous people involved, obviously. The most obvious, of course, is the flight crew. The flight crew, like everybody else in the program, can only work on the basis of the knowledge that they have. They normally are kept fairly up to date regarding all details with regard to problems that are directly mission related or vehicle related.

In truth in the final count the commander and the pilot are the only two people in the Astronaut Office that actually end up giving a final go. In the final count, the launch director will ask if the commander is go and if the pilot is go, and in truth I have, nor do I think any of the other gentlemen who have flown, have ever thought that if we said we were no go I'm sure we wouldn't have lifted off.

We, of course, would have to have had a reason for doing that. For example, Dick Scobee on 51-L when they had the hatch problem wanted to make sure that the hatch was go and didn't want to take that responsibility on the crew and wanted somebody to come in and check it, and requested and received that kind of an inspection.

The Director of Flight Crew Operations, George Abbey, is located at the launch site, the place right off the launch control center called the Operations Support Room, and he is intimately aware of what is




going on in the final count.

[1420] We have a weather pilot up flying one of our Shuttle training airplanes, and that is normally John Young doing the final check of the weather in case we might be involved in a return to launch site abort.

In addition to that we also have a weather coordinator, who is an astronaut located at the landing field itself talking to both all of the Cape weather people and to Houston and to whoever is flying the weather airplane, normally John.

The Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations will normally be back at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, available in the flight control area if there are any questions that come up that he should be making an input to.

In addition, we have a senior astronaut assigned in a support room. That is referred to as spacecraft analysis with the acronym of SPAN just off this flight control room, and that person is intimately aware of what is going on in the final count and can make inputs.

Of course, we also have the CAPCOM, who is assigned to the flight control room who is an astronaut that does do all of the communications with the vehicle.

So we definitely are intimately aware of what




is going on in the final count and have numerous means of making inputs to that.

MR. RUMMEL: I note on the first chart 2 and chart 3 that the Astronaut Office is represented by a Director of Flight Crew Operation and so on. Is that a mandatory participation?

MR. CRIPPEN: It is a mandatory participation that he is either there or his representative.

MR. RUMMEL: Well, now I note the absence of the mention of the specific flight crews that are involved in the mission being considered. Do I read that correctly?

MR. CRIPPEN: You read that correctly, and that is by intent. It is mainly that the crew is so involved in the training and the daily preparation of getting ready to go fly that it would be impossible to pull them directly into these meetings. It is always, they are always given a summary, quite often given the detailed pitches of everything that has gone on in the particular meetings involved.

It is also true that we have a health stabilization program that starts at a week prior to flight where we don't have them normally getting in large groups just to make sure they don't come down with a cold or something.




MR. RUMMEL: But of course there is TV and telecon and that sort of thing that might take the place of that. But what I'm getting at you've already touched upon, is in exercising the final judgment, which I now understand the commander has from what you said, as to whether to go or no go. Since he did not participate directly in the Flight Readiness Review or the Launch Minus One Review, he is relying on passed-on information, I take it, to the extent that he may receive it rather than direct participation?

I wonder if that doesn't raise the question of the degree of knowledge that he may have in his possession as to any potential problems or questionable areas that he may be confronted with on the flight?

MR. CRIPPEN: Sir, I can understand your concern; however, you must realize that putting the mission together to go fly is a very complicated thing that involves lots of people, and there is no way that the flight crew themselves can personally participate in everything that it takes to get ready to go fly.

They are totally reliant on being supplied information, and we have set up chains of command and funnels for doing that. I think that there has not been anything that has occurred in one of these reviews that was considered in any way significant that the flight


[1421] 2401


crews haven't heard.

MR. RUMMEL: I think I understand the inherent complexity and the difficulty of the commander being apprised of each and every item that might be brought into consideration with respect to the flight.

What I was addressing, though, were the potential hazards, those conditions, O-rings, whatever, that have existed or that may exist, but which review should shed light and make clear, so that he at least is aware of those things, with which he may be confronted with as contrasted to actual problems that have developed.

I would have thought that that category would not be limitless, that it might be contained and it might be an important item for him to consider in deciding whether or not to go or no go.

MR. CRIPPEN: In general the system is set up such that those items are brought to his attention, and they are numerous that we go through and talk about and get the flight crew's inputs as to what we should be doing about them, in the case of the O-rings again.

That isn't just true of the Astronaut Office. I might admit there are several layers of NASA management that were also apparently not aware of the O-ring problem.

DR. RUMMEL: But it is indirect information?




MR. CRIPPEN: It is indirect information, yes, sir.

DR. RUMMEL: Thank you.

MR. ABBEY: If I might, there is a system set up where we do have the systems people at KSC that do the test and checkout work. We have the flight control team go over each of the systems in a telecon, realizing that the crew is in quarantine. That is done at L-1, and we go through each of the systems and any problems are discussed over that telecon directly with the KSC test and checkout personnel as well as the flight control team in Houston.

MR. RUMMEL: Well, are those problems that have manifested themselves in the normal course of checkout or are these potential problems that maybe existed on prior flights or which analysis indicates could occur?

MR. YOUNG: They really fall into both categories. They are any concerns that any of the systems people are knowledgeable of in Houston and the flight control team or any of the system problems that they are knowledgeable of at KSC.

In addition to that we do have, as we said, the astronauts involved in the test and checkout operation, and they do the switch list and they support all of the activities before the crew comes out to the




vehicle. They are very knowledgeable of any problems that the team is aware of, and they brief the crew on any anomalies or any problems during that last day and right on until when the crew goes out to the vehicle.

MR. HOTZ: Bob, could you explain a little bit more about this authority of the mission commander on launch, the go or no go call? Is this a formal documented authority, or is this just developed over usage and tradition?

MR. CRIPPEN: It is a part of the formal OMI or the Operational Maintenance Instruction that the Cape uses to count down the launch, and so it is a formal NASA document and he is one of the-he and the pilot are the two people that have a formal go.

MR. HOTZ: Thank you.

[1422] MR. RUMMEL: How long prior to launch is that go/no go decision given by the commander?

MR. CRIPPEN: Somebody can probably help me out. It is about the nine minute point, the 0-9 minus 9 minute.

MR. RUMMEL: Prior to the automated liftoff procedure?

MR. CRIPPEN: Yes, sir.

DR. COVERT: Captain Crippen, you've been an operational pilot and a pilot in development squadron and a test pilot as well as a pilot and commander of the




Space Shuttle.

Would you sort of help me to understand some of the similarities and differences between these different kinds of operations, particularly in terms of the complexity and the decision points and the pilot's input into the activities, or is this such a broad thing that you would be here the rest of the day talking about it?

MR. CRIPPEN: I'm afraid we would be here the rest of the day talking about it.

DR. COVERT: Could you summarize it briefly, then?

MR. CRIPPEN: Flying a spacecraft, of course, is a lot more complex than taking off in an airplane. Even if you take a test flight, for example, that will have a test team behind it and usually a test conductor or a test engineer on the ground and the pilot. You are not working with as many people. You are working with-even though it can be complex, it is a simple piece of machinery. I don't think there's a vehicle anywhere in the world that is probably as complex as the total Space Transportation System when you put it together.

Consequently, the biggest. difference is you have to, as I was saying for Mr. Rummel, you have to be reliant more on people supporting you, and you have to




have confidence in the system. You have to have trust in the system, otherwise you never would go fly it.

We are normally cognizant of things that we consider significant problems, and we are intimately involved with working those. Again, if-just like a pilot would have the opportunity when he went out and ran the engines up, if something didn't look right to him or didn't feel right to him you could say no go, and the commander has an opportunity to do that; however, he is only as good as the data base that he's working with.

DR. COVERT: It is essentially the complexity of the data base here that puts the increased challenge and the increased reliance on the whole team to make this a successful decision?

MR. CRIPPEN: In truth, with most of the modern do aircraft we are flying, as they become more and more complex the pilot in the cockpit is faced with a similar situation. He really is.

DR. COVERT: Fine. Thank you very much.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: How much total flight crew personnel are assigned to each flight in addition to those that are actually going to go in?

MR. CRIPPEN: I think I might defer to Paul on that one.

MR. WEITZ: We don't have the support teams




anymore, Neil, so directly assigned to follow a flight is just the flight crew itself

MR. CRIPPEN: But we do have the CAPCOMs that are directly associated coming up on a mission; however, they rotate from flight to flight, but we do not have in a role like we used to have of a backup crew plus an astronaut support crew. We do not have that anymore.

[1423] MR. ABBEY: We do have at least four or five astronauts on a full-time basis supporting the final count and supporting the crew down at the Cape.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Other than those individuals assigned to the specific flight, who would be most knowledgeable about the specific flight consideration systems, payloads and so on for a given launch?

MR. CRIPPEN: That would be the CAPCOMs.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Is he assigned that position a substantial period ahead of time so that he develops that body of knowledge along with the crew?

MR. CRIPPEN: Normally what we have been doing is supplying CAPCOMs in for a period of at least six months to a year, and we rotate them but we use the same CAPCOMs over on each flight. The more often you are flying flights the less time they have in between them to get familiar with the payloads that are associated on




a particular mission.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: It appears as though you are dependent, to some extent, on a conduit of information from in terms of the review processes that Paul was talking about of information from whoever, Mr. Abbey or his representatives, that are in the review process getting to the commander.

So that is a conduit, but a conduit also acts as a filter and cuts down the amount of information that comes through to the most important points. I think the question that concerns the Commissioners is how do you assure that the filter doesn't filter out too much information or provides the proper amount?

MR. CRIPPEN: We do depend upon the filter, but we are flying crews of normally five people from the Astronaut Office. My personal experience has been probably the most knowledgeable people on the center with the payloads were in the crew, and I'm not sure that isn't of the vehicle. If you want to take it from an overall standpoint. It is mainly because, as John indicated, still our job is not sitting in simulators. It is sitting down and going over paper, and we are normally assigning crews like mission specialists to a flight a year ahead of time. They work in great detail with that




payload and with the payload support officers that we have there in our flight control room. Those people know that payload as well as anybody, and so I don't think that they are really dependent from a payload standpoint on that much of a filter, if you will, to get data.

From the orbiter side or the vehicle side, I think that our flight crews probably understand it as good as any person that possibly could when you have to look at the overall system. They rely very heavy, as we always have, on our systems division people who monitor each system specifically, but everyone will-is not bashful about picking up a phone and saying hey, come talk to me about this, and sit down and go over any details of any problems.

We normally have the anomaly list from a flight to go through as soon as that flight is over, and you start looking at it yourself as well as having observed what's going on in the flight.

So I don't want to leave the picture that the flight crew is off here training and they don't know anything about what is going on down in the bowels of the ship because that is not correct. Going to these formal reviews, we have to depend on other people to handle it for us.




MR. YOUNG: In the countdown demonstration tests, the people down at the Cape go through a complete listing of what's happened with that particular vehicle, what has gone [1424] wrong with it, and then when they get down there for the flight the Cape people go through another listing of what has happened with that vehicle. Each vehicle is very different.

We also get a complete listing of what has happened on the vehicle from the systems people in the Missions Operation Directorate that says what has been changed out, what are the new problems, what are the old problems, what are the unresolved problems.

This is about a five-page memo of specific things that have happened to that vehicle that people are interested in, and since they're going to be watching the machinery while it flies they are the best. They know that, and they also participate in that L-1 briefing so they know what happened to the vehicle before it launches.

It is about as good a job as you can do on this kind of thing. You really want to tell astronauts what's going on about problems that they can do something about. When you go to a Flight Readiness Review and you hear what people have said, there may be some very interesting things in there, but if the




astronaut really can't do something about it or be aware of it or take some kind of action and it's not a serious problem that anybody has brought up, the Flight Readiness Review lasts all day long, and those people are terribly busy, you probably wouldn't tell them about it. I don't recall anything coming up in the Flight Readiness Review on the solid rocket motor seals.

MR. RUMMEL: Why wouldn't what he could do something about include discussion, demands, requirements, whatever, for design improvements in cases where such appears to be the case?

MR. YOUNG: I think that's exactly what would happen, and I think if anybody in the gang had known about this business and understood it we might have said something, but really it should have been taken care of by the process long before it ever got to a Flight Readiness Review, I believe.

MR. RUMMEL: Absolutely, but in cases where it does not that would be a legitimate concern, would it not, or might not it be on the part of the astronauts?

MR. YOUNG: Yes, sir, and they would talk about it.

MR. ABBEY: Neil, I think we don't just rely upon John or I or Crip going to the Flight Readiness




Review. We also have a very formal meeting with the flight directors and the CAPCOMs, and the flight directors have been at the Flight Readiness Review, so you're getting really two inputs coming into the flight crew.

We schedule that meeting at L-, probably L-4 after the Flight Readiness Review, so they're getting an input not only from John and I but they're also getting an input from the flight directors and as well as the CAPCOMs, so they're getting kind of a redundant input there.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: George, I understand that, and I think I understand that we have a system of very complex information flow and a system that you've devised with checks and balances to make sure that information flow properly gets to the right people.

Nevertheless, we have to face the fact that somehow it hasn't. Can you be at all specific about whether you think changes are appropriate? If so, do you have any idea as to what you could recommend?

MR. ABBEY: Yes, I think we have some thoughts along that line, and we are going to cover them a little later.


[1425] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: To be a little more specific, there was some Mission Management Team meeting




on the 27th of January, the day before the launch. Was there an astronaut at that meeting or a representative, and who was it?

MR. ABBEY: We were tied into that meeting by telecon, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: According to the testimony, as I recall the testimony Mr. Aldrich said at that time that there were weather concerns expressed.

MR. ABBEY: We were in on the meeting on the 26th. We were not involved even on the telecon on the 27th.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, to go back to it, the meeting was held at 2:00 p.m. after the launch was scrubbed that day, and it was 2:00 p.m. on January 27th.

At that time Mr. Aldrich said that there was a concern about the weather the next day, and he advised everyone at that meeting that if they had any problems with weather or any concerns about the weather to let him know.

As the testimony disclosed, he was not advised about the O-ring, the joint problem and the weather as it related to that joint, and my question was, was any astronaut present at that meeting?

MR. WEITZ: Yes, sir, I think I was, along with, as Bob said before, the Spacecraft Analysis Room representative.




CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Then at the 9:00 meeting the morning of the launch, were you there, too, Mr. Weitz?

MR. WEITZ: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Do you remember that Mr. Aldrich advised the people at those meetings if there were any concerns about the weather that he should know about it and that he should be told about them?

MR. WEITZ: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And he wasn't, apparently?

MR. WEITZ: Well, the meeting on the

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I'm speaking about the weather as it relates to the joint, the O-rings.

MR. WEITZ: We were not aware, no, sir. We were not aware of any concern at all with the O-rings, let along the effect of weather on the O-rings.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So he was not, nor were you, advised of all of the problems that existed in the minds of the people in Thiokol and the people at Marshall about the weather? Neither you nor Mr. Aldrich were advised about that?

MR. WEITZ: Not that I remember at those meetings, no, sir.


MR. CRIPPEN: Okay, if I could go on to chart C-5, please?




(Viewgraph C-5.) [Ref. 4/3-12]

MR. CRIPPEN: As you brought up, the Mission Management Team meetings are a mechanism that the Level II program manager uses to make decisions throughout a mission, and he can use that Mission Management Team meeting prior to the mission, as was done in this particular case.

[1426] Normally as I address them here, they are daily meetings that occur during a mission that give the program office an opportunity to make any major decisions that need to be made. We are well represented there, as I indicated, again as a minimum by Mr. Abbey, Captain Young, and again our SPAN representative will also be there.

Chart C-6, please?

(Viewgraph C-6.) [Ref. 4/3-13]

MR. CRIPPEN: For entry essentially it is an inverted process from what we do for launch. Of course, the flight crew is there, and any time that they elect that they might want to wave off the entry they certainly have the authority to be able to do that.

Again, we have a Shuttle training airplane checking the weather at the landing site and in general if the landing site is intended to be the Kennedy Spacecraft Center we also have one as a backup at




Edwards in case that should become the prime site. We also have our weather coordinator, an astronaut on the ground at the landing site itself passing that information back and forth.

MR. RUMMEL: Now, would these things you mentioned apply to alternate sites, for example, overseas sites?

MR. CRIPPEN: The only overseas site that we normally staff would be our trans-Atlantic abort site, and that is not normally done with an astronaut but it is done by a member of the Flight Crew Operations Directorate who is very familiar with the capabilities of the Shuttle. They do check the weather at that particular site, yes, sir, but that is the only one that we check.

DR. COVERT: Do they check that by standing there or by getting in an airplane and flying around and seeing how it looks from the air?

MR. CRIPPEN: Normally getting in an airplane and flying and checking it out, yes, sir.

We also, back in Houston, will be staffed with normally the Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations, again in a standby mode in case he is needed, our SPAN representative and again the CAPCOMs, of which there is a prime and a backup, that are all aware of that.




Those actually conclude my formal remarks. If there are no other questions, I will pass it on to Hank Hartsfield.

DR. KEEL: Mr. Chairman, could we just ask one question here to follow up on Neil's to make sure that we do cover this?

Are your recommendations, Mr. Abbey, downstream going to apply also to improvements that you may see in the astronaut participation in the Flight Readiness Review or the Mission Management Team meetings, or is that just going to be in terms of resolving issues?

MR. ABBEY: No, they're not going to address that aspect of it.

DR. KEEL: Well, can we ask now, then, are there any recommendations you have now, any of you, with respect to improving astronaut participation in Flight Readiness Reviews or the launch decision process?

MR. CRIPPEN: Mr. Keel, from my standpoint I don't know of anything that I would recommend that we would change in that particular area.

I think that the basic system is good, but again it is only as good as the data base that you have feeding it, and I don't know how we could change that at this particular time as far as the actual participation that we have from the Astronaut Office.


[1427] 2417


DR. WHEELON: I have a question for those of you that were there the day before that fateful day. Did you detect an unusual urgency to proceed with the launching? Was it out of the pattern of prior launches that you had experienced?

MR. YOUNG: I think there's an urgency to proceed with every launch once you get a vehicle loaded and on the launch pad. I don't see anything wrong with that, but it is there. I think in the future the higher the launch rate the more that urgency exists, and I'm not sure that that's something we have a whole lot of control over, but I think we ought to watch it very carefully.

DR. WHEELON: I accept that answer, of course, but the question, granting that each launch has an urgency, was there an unusual urgency surrounding this launch?

MR. WEITZ: I did not perceive any different sense of urgency with this one as with any other. I agree with John. I think that that sense to get it off, there is a general feeling once you start into the count that a lot of work has gone to get you out there on launch morning, and we would like to within reason do those things necessary to get the launch off.

But I think that that has, you know-if




you're asking for perceived differences, I did not perceive any.

MR. ACHESON: I have a question for Captain Crippen. I would be interested in your reflections on a suggestion that some of us have heard made informally, that perhaps new problems that don't have preplanned responses ought not to be decided or disposed of after, let us say, the L-1 or at some stage fairly near the launch, but should simply be the occasion for a scrub and then a more deliberate consideration.

Would you regard that as an unmanageable approach to the problem, or would you think it had merit, or would you have some modifications on that idea of your own?

MR. CRIPPEN: There comes a point in time in any count where if you have an unusual problem develop that the answer is to go ahead and scrub. I think that if L-1, if you're talking about L-1 days, would be unreasonable myself.

There are numerous things that can happen, and quite often they are not what you anticipated but we have a crew of people, both at the Kennedy Space Center, the Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Johnson Space Center, as well as all the supporting contractors that are very knowledgeable on the vehicle.




In general, if they have time to work a problem and run it through the checks and balances that we have within our program level management and everybody is satisfied with it, then I think we ought to be able to lift off.

I personally think that the way we handle that today is reasonable.

MR. ACHESON: Thank you.

MR. HARTSFIELD: Let me make a comment on that. I think I can give you an example on flight 41-D, because this is something that came up, I think, in the thing you're talking about, something of a general nature that doesn't really apply specifically to something uncovered during the launch.

We had had a problem with some of the jet driver boxes, and we began to look at our electronics, and in the process of looking at all our electronic boxes we found a possible single point failure in the master events controller box that would cause a timing problem such that if it occurred we would not get rid of the solid rockets.

[1428] The possibility of this single point failure occurring was very, very low. There was a way to temporarily fix the problem by patching the software to open up the period in which it would give the PC less




than 50 and let the thing operate.

Well, this problem only surfaced the day before we were supposed to launch, and George and John brought the problem to me as the commander and the crew, and we discussed all the aspects of this. We could, as it was presented to me, we could accept the risk and go fly. We had flown 11 flights already with this problem and didn't know it; or we could delay a day and fix the software and verify the patch. We had the patch ready to go but it had not been verified in our avionics lab.

Our input as the crew and the commander was let's wait a day and do it right and fix the software. They took that back to the program, and as far as I know-well, we did delay. That is what happened and so that is, in my mind, the way the system works and it is supposed to work.

But again, the information has to surface. In the cam of the solid rocket motor, somewhere along the line the information didn't get to us.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I suggest we take a ten-minute recess.

(A brief recess was taken.)

MR. JOHNSON: Let's continue, please. Mr. Weitz, do you want to make a correction, please?

MR. WEITZ: Yes, sir, there were many meetings




involved with the efforts to launch 51-L, and as best I can recollect I went to more than one meeting on the 26th and 27th but apparently the particular one under question, the 2:00 p.m. Mission Management Team meeting on that date I was not present at.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: That is fine. It was only important because, in my mind, because Mr. Aldrich had pointed out to everybody at that meeting if there were any weather concerns, not just about the launch pad but any weather concerns, that he would like to be notified himself the next day.

Mr. Hartsfield, would you proceed?

MR. HARTSFIELD: Yes. sir. If I could have the first chart, please?

(Viewgraph.) [Ref 4/3-14]

MR. HARTSFIELD: What I would like to talk about here is how I think we ought to address some of the issues. You know, we know that there are certain issues that some of us have been concerned about, and we've had a lot of discussions, as you might imagine, at our office as to how we should handle these.

What I would like to present to you now are my views on the subject, and I might say that it is my opinion that the general thrust of what I am going to tell you is shared by almost everyone in the office as




to how do we get from here to flying again.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Could I say, too, before you get started again, these are the very things that the Commission is most interested in.

As I said in my opening statement, one of the things that we were asked to do was to make recommendations to the President on safety factors that should be considered and make recommendations along the lines of how can we make flight safer in the future.

[1429] So what you are about to do and what we will be asking others on the panel about are the safety factors that should be addressed by the Commission, and so we appreciate this presentation.

MR. HARTSFIELD: Well, this is going to be very general in nature, and we're going to talk about some issues when I get through here, but what I am proposing is how, I guess, that I would like to see things proceed. As I said, I think that it is shared in the office.

If I could go to the next chart?

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 4/3-15]

MR. HARTSFIELD: All of us know that we have just suffered a great tragedy, and I think it has given me a lot of time to reflect, and I think it is time for introspection in all areas of our business, starting




right at the Astronaut Office and going on up through all of the facets of this program, to see what we should do.

Now, most of the things that I'm going to mention here are already being done, and we have astronauts, as you saw a while ago, participating in all of these things. In my mind when we go through all these things and when you read into these recommendations, safety is the watchword. That is the thing that is, of course, foremost in all of our minds because, really, if you are safe that equates to a successful mission, and after all that is what we're trying to do.

If I could have the next chart?

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 4/3-16]

MR. HARTSFIELD: The first thing that I think we ought to do and we are doing is revalidating the design. Now, that is getting rather basic but I think we need to go back and look at what we set out to build, what our design requirements are and whether they were consistent or not.

For example, it doesn't make much sense to build a wing that is good for four G's and a tail to fall off at two G's, so we need to make sure that we've got a good basic design, that we did lay out our requirements




properly, and then look at what we built. Does it meet the design? How did we test that?

For example, if we had a spec that said a certain device was supposed to operate between two temperature limits, did we test it? If we didn't test it to those limits, how did we certify the design? Did we do it through analysis? Is it acceptable? If there are waivers, do we now still say that those were good waivers and then the end result, then, is there are constraints that have to get into our operational design? We want to review those and make sure that

MR. HOTZ: Excuse me just a minute. Could you clarify as to whether these are conceptual things that you are recommending or these are processes that are actually going on now?

MR. HARTSFIELD: Well, this one is going on. I'm giving you my personal opinion that I think is shared in the office of how we get well, and we are going to look at all facets of the program which I think Admiral Truly has started us doing.

MR. HOTZ: So what you're telling us here is basically an ongoing process and not something that you plan to do at some future date?

MR. HARTSFIELD: No, it is already started.

MR. HOTZ: Thank you.




(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 4/3-17]

[1430] MR. HARTSFIELD: We want to review the high criticality items. This is already in review. In addition, we are soliciting concerns from all elements of our organization. We have had each organization, for example, at JSC, the engineers in each speciality present up the line their concerns. What systems do I have concerns about? Those are being categorized and consolidated.

We are also reviewing this famous critical items list. We are going through those and seeing whether that list is properly validated. We're looking at each item individually. We may add to that list. We may not. When we get all through with this we're going to try to identify and prioritize our concerns and fixes.

One category, of course, is what have we got to fix before we fly? We know of one item already we want to fix before we fly again, and that's the seals. We've got to do that but, are there others? As an example, maybe the 17-inch disconnect flapper valve?

But all of these things have to be prioritized, and we have to use some good engineering judgment on which ones we need to fix. Some of them we may decide that the risk is acceptable as is; that that shouldn't be a concern for us.




GENERAL KUTYNA: You got off the design and safety chart quicker than I thought you would. Let me ask a question in that respect.

In the design stage, the Shuttle had several crew escape and survivability features that were contemplated but for one reason or another weren't put on the vehicle that we have today. In view of our experience, what crew survivability and escape provisions would you like to see on today's Shuttle?

MR. HARTSFIELD: Well, I personally would like to see some sort of a low altitude escape system. This all fits together in a package; you know, some ability to bail out of the vehicle. We have abort modes that we call contingency aborts, in which we lose two engines, and the end result of that is ditching.

I personally don't think the vehicle would survive a ditching. When you talk about smacking the water at 200 knots with an airplane that is basically an airliner type design, I'm convinced it's going to break up. If you've got a 60,000 pound payload behind you, it's probably going to come in the cockpit with you.

So I personally would like to see something along that line. Whether we can develop such a thing reasonably or not I'm not sure, but there are options I would like to see us look at and review this once again.




GENERAL KUTYNA: John, you've had some thoughts on this. Do you agree?

MR. YOUNG: I have been at this for a very long time. Back in the early 1970s, and this wasn't an idle situation, we went all over the country and we talked to people about solid rocket motors, and we talked to people about engines, and we talked to people about great numbers of things. They told us there was no way to do all these things and make them 100 percent reliable.

So at that time we did try to-we had ejection seats in for the vertical flight test phase. We got them put in for that flight phase, and then they came back out. Since then on numerous occasions we have talked to people about doing things like putting in bailout systems such as the tractor rocket system, or just plain bailout, and they have always seemed to be more than people could put up with.

But I really believe that manned space flight, manned space vehicles, if we don't do it for this one, for surely the next vehicle that we develop there should be an escape system.

GENERAL KUTYNA: But are there things you would like to see in this one?

MR. YOUNG: I would but it is not going to be


[1431] 2428


a cheap type quick fix, I don't think, to do it to give you any reasonable chance for escape.


CHAIRMAN ROGERS: This is one of the things that the Commission might want to-well, but maybe this isn't the right question to ask you but certainly it is one of the things that I think the Commission should consider. If we have views on it, we should make recommendations.

One of the things we would like to see from you are your recommendations about whether money should be appropriated for that purpose or not, and how soon could it be done.

Captain Young, do you want to address that?

MR. YOUNG: Sir, I think it would be touch and go to put any escape system in there before you fly. Again, depending upon how long it takes to get back up, which I really don't have a good feel for but it would be a tough proposition.

I guess if you put the right people on it with the right money and the right effort, you ought to be able to do it pretty darn quickly, but I'm not sure that we have that kind of capability at NASA.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What about in building a fourth orbiter? Should that be one of the things we





MR. YOUNG: Yes, sir, I believe that would be a good idea for other reasons probably, too, yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Do any other of you have views on that? We will be asked as a Commission.

MR. YOUNG: I'll tell you, there's a wide disparity of ideas on that in the Astronaut Office.

MR. CRIPPEN: Mr. Chairman, I guess, as John knows, he and I have worked this particular problem long and hard on the Shuttle, and it's more than money. It is a tough problem to solve technically with the vehicle that we have.

If you were going back from square zero and you went to some kind of concept like the F-111 cabin escape system, you might-and build it from the ground up, you might be able to do something like that. You might be able to come up with some kind of a system that would satisfy the requirement that Hank brought up of giving you capability to bail out in one of these contingency abort kind of things.

But again, I've said this before publicly and I'll say it again, I don't think I know of an escape system that would have saved the crew from the particular incident that we just went through. I don't think it is possible to build such a system.




MR. HOTZ: Are there other incidents in which a type of escape system could have saved the crew?

MR. CRIPPEN: The one that Hank alluded to is a very real possibility. We have a large portion of the assent phase where if you lose multiple engines, multiple of your main engines, the only option is a ditch which puts it in the water, and it is questionable whether that is a survivable situation.

It would be possible or potentially possible that you might have time to get all the crew bailed out. That would be a tough problem itself considering you would probably have them [1432] spread out across the ocean coming out at pretty high velocities, but it is probably more survivable than ditching the vehicle.

But that is about the main situation I think we would be talking about.

MR. HOTZ: How about your return to launch site abort mode where I know there are some concerns about whether this is really a feasible mode or not, and wouldn't some kind of an escape system like that function in the time that you might have when you were trying to make a return to, an abort and return to the launch site?

MR. CRIPPEN: That type of system would work in any kind of a landing situation if you ran into a problem where you weren't, from an energy standpoint,




couldn't make the field or something of that nature.

But with regard to the RTLS, whether return to launch site abort mode, I guess contrary to what you just voiced I think that everything that we have seen says yes, that is a doable kind of a mode.

DR. FEYNMAN: I would suggest another possibility that has never happened that I hope would never happen. It is possible that the crew, because of some gas in the cockpit or something or heart attacks or whatnot, is unable to make the reentry completely, and so would it be possible to make a backup computer-driven reentry that could back up the crew if the crew is unable to operate and therefore save both the mission and as many of the crew as are still alive?

MR. CRIPPEN: Today, in the way the vehicle is designed and the computer software put together, we do not have any kind of capability to have it all done automatically or executed from ground.

That was one of the considerations in designing the Shuttle, because there was an element of the program that thought we ought to fly it completely unmanned the first time. In fact, I think Captain Young and myself were probably two of the opponents for doing that because we thought that putting the man aboard probably gave it More of a chance for success.




I personally don't think the scenario you just raised is a reasonable one where you could have the whole crew totally incapacitated and such that they were going to end up surviving. But technically, yes, that is a feasible kind of thing to do but it is not in the current system.

DR. FEYNMAN: I think in fact it is fairly simple to do, although there are some things that are not built in that make it impossible right now that are very easy to fix up, such as the automatic lowering of the landing gear which can't be done now.

GENERAL KUTYNA: Can it be done by the ground?

MR. CRIPPEN: No, it cannot.

DR. FEYNMAN: That seems odd because it is such a simple thing to put in, and although the contingency is unlikely it is only thought of as a backup idea. I wondered what you thought of that.

MR. CRIPPEN: Any time you put in a system like that that can be automatically activated or automatically done by some other, you have built in another failure mode in it, and putting the landing gear down at the wrong time on this vehicle you can cost the vehicle. Consequently, it was a very conscious decision of ours.

Like I think it was pointed out earlier, most


[1433] 2433


of the things are done by the computer. The gear lowering is strictly a manual electrical operation that bypasses the computer totally, and it was made as simple and as straightforward as we could to preclude any additional failure modes.

MR. HOTZ: John, I believe you raised the question in one of your previous discussions about the possibility of putting a thrust terminating device into the solid rocket boosters.

Would that have had any effect if you had such a device, that is short of total destruct and I'm not talking about marine safety packages, but would that have had any effect on the 51-L incident?

MR. YOUNG: No, sir, I don't think it would have been able to do anything for them. The manned orbiting laboratory program had thrust termination based on chamber pressures in the two solid rocket motors being different, and they would thrust terminate and get off, and they had a Gemini escape module. I'm not sure that thrust termination would have helped this situation.

MR. HOTZ: What was your point in recommending it?

MR. YOUNG: I recommended thrust termination back in the early days in order to avoid the range




safety system problems that you have when you separate-when you activate the range safety package either on purpose or inadvertently.

I think the range safety package, if we have to carry one, should be one that doesn't tear up the whole piece of machinery, including the crew. I think with humans on a vehicle that the range safety package, if you have to have one, should be man-rated. That is just my opinion.

MR. HOTZ: Is this one, the one you carry now, man-rated? It is pretty destructive, isn't it?

MR. YOUNG: The solid rocket motors ride down the side and will blow up the external tank, and people are looking at that to see if we really should fly one at all on the system, I guess, through the range safety, through the range safety panels.

But I will tell you, we fought this long and hard to even have a range safety package on the vehicle in the early 1970s, and we were never successful to get it removed. In fact, we had sort of an unwritten agreement that when we took the ejection seats out the range safety package would come off, and it just never did.

MR. HOTZ: How do you feel about it now? Do you still feel that it should come off.




MR. YOUNG: I was sure if the vehicle is reliable enough to go where you want it to go, I think the range safety package should come off. On the other hand, they've just got some data that says it is not as reliable as it should be.

MR. HOTZ: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: To come back to building another orbiter-because this is one of the things that Congress is obviously going to consider, and when we make our report it is one of the things we are going to be questioned about by Congress-is it feasible to provide for an abort system in the fourth orbiter, if you build a new one?

MR. WEITZ: You mean an escape system? A modular escape system?


MR. WEITZ: I think probably not.

MR. YOUNG: I think you can put a low altitude tractor rocket system in there without too much trouble.

[1434] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: You could put a what in there?

MR. YOUNG: A tractor or a rocket escape system in the new orbiter without a lot of difficulty.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: You're talking about a Yankee sort of a system?

MR. YOUNG: Yes, a Yankee system that takes




out the top of the cockpit and lets people jump out that way.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Would that be a unanimous view of you gentlemen, or is there division on that?

MR. WEITZ: No, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: One of the reasons we're having these hearings is let's talk about the differences. In a free system that is what we do. Let's talk about them.

MR. WEITZ: Well, I think what we're down to is basically we have three alternatives, and these have been looked at various times over the last several years and will be looked at again. In fact, we're starting to look at them again now.

You have an escape module. You have some sort of probably rocket-assisted personnel extraction where you use, as Neil said, the Yankee system, or you have some sort of bailout system. With the orbiter as it presently exists, it is really-you cannot modify the existing orbiter to accommodate an escape module, and so therefore we have considered these other two methods.

John likes the rocket extraction system because it does cover a wider flight regime and allows you to get out perhaps with the vehicle only under partial control as opposed to complete control; however,




any system that-when you add more parts like rockets it gets more complex.

Another system is a bailout system which we have looked at in which you have to modify the side hatch or the top hatch, depending upon what you wanted to go out, so that it could be pyrotechnically blown off the vehicle to give you the route out, and you then hook up to your parachute system and bail out the side. What that says is you obviously have to be subsonic in stable flight.

So there are tradeoffs and it is not simple and straightforward in my mind, anyway, as to which way you really want to go of those two. That is why we have asked and have reinstituted a tradeoff study to be done on those two.

MR. CRIPPEN: I guess I'm very much for first building a fourth orbiter. I think that is the right thing to do. I think it is also important that we keep the configuration of the vehicles essentially the same. It is a real problem, and we've seen this previously.

Any time we get multiple configurations between vehicles we have got a training systems problem that is phenomenal, and somehow it doesn't make much sense to me that we would end up with one vehicle that




had an escape system on it and three that didn't.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: You all agree you couldn't modify the three exiting orbiters to provide that?

MR. CRIPPEN: The only kind of a system that I'm aware of that I think is even somehow feasible would be maybe some kind of a bailout system that could be used subsonic, and we've [1435] looked at that. At this point in time we haven't seen fit that it was worth the complexity to go through it.

I mean, we can reevaluate that again, and I'm sure, as Paul says, we will do that.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I understand Dr. Ride's subcommittee is considering this matter and is going to have some further discussions next week about it, so her panel can discuss it further but it is going to be one of the things we're going to be questioned about by Congress.

We have already had questions about what we recommend, and we are in the position of saying we haven't come to any conclusions about it, but that is why this discussion is helpful.

Thank you.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: It was mentioned a moment ago that you did not feel the orbiter had a good chance of a successful ditching, at least some felt that way. It is my understanding that some tests had been




conducted in the past, but they may not be directly applicable to the orbiter and other tests were never conducted.

Would it seem reasonable from your collective points of view to beef up the understanding of whether or not an orbiter is ditchable because, as I understand it, you don't really know yet?

MR. YOUNG: 1/2 MV2. There's a lot of that.

MR. CRIPPEN: I think that would be a very reasonable thing to do, because it is the sort of an unknown that we have in the program right now.

MR. WEITZ: I don't agree with that.

MR. YOUNG: I don't think it's an unknown. There's just no evidence that hitting the water that fast with the kind of ultimate crash loads that the orbiter has in systems associated with the orbiter-we've got a 20-G cockpit, but the stuff in the payload bay is a lot less than that, and the stuff in the nose is a lot less than that.

MR. WEITZ: When I said that I didn't agree with Crip, what I meant was my feeling is so strong that the orbiter will not survive a ditching, and that includes land, water or any unprepared surface, that such a study would frankly be a waste of money.




I think if we put the crew in a position where they're going to be asked to do a contingency abort, then they need some means to get out of the vehicle before it contacts earth, the surface of the earth.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Do you mean the first test would be a real one?

MR. WEITZ: Yes, sir.

DR. COVERT: Could I ask a question of one of you, please?

What is your experience in terms of the maximum dynamic pressure you would like to bail out into considering the high adrenaline flow and all of those other contingencies of that kind?

MR. WEITZ: The mechanics of separating from the orbiter in a bailout, which means no assistance at all, requires you to be-if you go out the overhead hatch you would probably hit either the OMS pods or the vertical tail. If you go out the side hatch at air speeds in excess of much over about 220, 220, 240 knots, you would hit the wing.

DR. COVERT: The window is pretty narrow, then, in terms of the available

MR. WEITZ: Yes, sir, because you're now trying to bring the orbiter down to a regime where you are at relatively high angles of attack.


[1436] 2441


VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Was that partly due to the fact that there is no spoiler at the hatch?


VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Could that envelope, do you think, perhaps be improved somewhat if there were?

MR. WEITZ: Intuitively I feel that it could, Neil, but we just don't know.

DR. COVERT: Still, there's a basic 1/22 that a person is reluctant to enter into at some point.

MR. WEITZ: Yes, sir.

DR. COVERT: So would you envision then that they would bail out wearing a helmet or some other sort of

MR. WEITZ: Well, they would wear the basic flight-yes, we would like to minimize the number, the amount of additional equipment that is necessary in order to do the bailout, and so I would envision doing it with the flight equipment that we presently have for launch.

DR. COVERT: But bareheaded and barefaced?

MR. WEITZ: No, sir, we launch with helmets on.

DR. COVERT: Okay, fine. Thank you.

DR. WHEELON: This question goes in a different direction, if I may.

Earlier John Young spoke about the problems of mounting the flights in 1985 and the potential




difficulty of going even higher than that in the future. This question builds on that and goes in a different direction.

Prior to January we had four orbiters. We now have three. Our former plan was to begin operating this summer both from Vandenberg and Kennedy. That presumed that we would have four orbiters, four Shuttles. We now have three.

Can each of you give a view on whether it is feasible to operate now from both launch pads, both Vandenberg and Kennedy, with only three orbiters and what strains that would put on the astronaut crews?

MR. CRIPPEN: I really think that that is primarily a programmatic question more than it is an Astronaut Office question, the last question you had. I don't think from our standpoint it is going to put any additional strains on us. Now, as to whether you can shuffle the vehicles around enough to do that, that is a different question and somebody else would have to address that.

I think that you can certainly operate still from both sides, especially if we're landing at Edwards. You have just got which way your Shuttle carrier craft goes when it leaves to take it back to the launch site.




But with three you can't fly as much as you can with four. I think that's the basic answer.

DR. FEYNMAN: I think it is an astronaut-related question because it has to do with a kind of launch pressure. Whenever you have a decision whether to fly or not, there are other considerations: how important it is to fly in order to keep up the number of flights, and if you have too large a number of flights you are going to have a big pressure on the astronauts.

Would you then consider that in order to reduce this pressure it would be worth considering the possibility of having unmanned missions for those satellites and those operations which don't require men and thus take some of the load off the Shuttle?

[1437] MR. CRIPPEN: I guess going back to your original question regarding pressures, pressures are a normal part of the system and I think they are a normal part of most systems.

I think that the American public would want us to try to keep what we think was a reasonable launch schedule, that was still a safe schedule, and I personally believe that, contrary to the evidence of 51-L, that we thought we were doing that.

I don't think that our management nor our office really thought that we were trying to press into




an unsafe situation, and I don't think that anybody would have made a conscious decision to go fly if they even thought that there was a possibility, if they personally thought that there was a possibility of that seal coming loose.

I guess I'm a big proponent of manned space flight, naturally. I think we have done a super job in the past of showing that we can deliver satellites to orbit with the Shuttle. That doesn't mean that there is no place for expendable boosters. I think that the proper answer is really what we have now, and that is a marriage between the two and that program management needs to decide what the balance should be.

I personally am biased to go over toward having four orbiters and a reasonable launch rate with those four orbiters and supplementing it as required with expendable boosters if you need it.

DR. FEYNMAN: That is not what I meant. I agree. I think there will be enough manned things to take care of the Shuttle but we should be sending up things on-the question is whether we should be sending up things on a manned Shuttle when we could have done it without them because of the new pressures, that is the new total number of things that we want to do.

MR. CRIPPEN: Again, I guess I think using man




to deliver satellites to orbit is a viable capability that we can and have used man for and should in the future, personally.

MR. WEITZ: I think the key to the whole thing is manifesting or scheduling, whatever you want to call it, your resources in a manner that you feel confident you can support.

It is my personal opinion that in the past that we have basically, for different reasons, wound up requiring what appears to be 110 to 120 percent of your resources. That serious deficiency in the program, I feel, is a serious lack of spare parts but what this requires is frequent cannibalization of other orbiters at KSC in order to properly outfit the one that is going up.

All this does is really add work to the flow at the Cape. It increases the exposure of both orbiters, the one you're taking the equipment off and the one you're putting it on, to intrusion by people. Every time you get people inside and around the orbiter you stand a chance of inadvertent damage of whatever type, whether you leave a tool behind or whether you, without knowing it, step on a wire bundle or a tube or something along those lines.

I think, and it is pointed out in Admiral




Truly's memo, that what we need to do is look at it from the bottom up. We really ought to decide if we have a four, three, whatever the number is, airplane, air force, we've got to decide what it is we can do and those types of things that it makes sense to utilize this resource for.

If it turns out that man can do many wonderful things in orbit, and I think we have demonstrated that, but we've really got to look at what it is we're using a very valuable national resource for.

[1438] MR. HOTZ: Could we move along to some of the other flight safety concerns on the current orbiter fleet, such as the microwave landing system and your crosswind problems and your brake problems?

Could we just poll the delegation and get a cross-section of your views on those problems?

MR. WEITZ: Henry, we haven't heard from you in a while.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Hartsfield, would you rather go ahead with your presentation, then we can come back to some of these questions?

MR. HARTSFIELD: Well, we've sort of talked about what is here. I might go through this rather quickly, and I would like to because there are a couple of points I would like to make.




CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Okay, why don't you go ahead and continue.

MR. WEITZ: I think we're going to touch on Mr. Hotz's subject later.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: It might be well to take them one at a time, too, as we go along.

MR. HARTSFIELD: This is just the approach one takes.

The next thing we've already talked about here, alluded to, is taking a look at our maintenance, our turnaround. We're doing that; we're looking at the requirements

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 4/3-18]

MR. HARTSFIELD: -and checking what the requirements say about the high criticality items that we discussed previously, and then we would see if we could trace these requirements to the turnaround procedures themselves, the test and checkout.

I personally think that there is already some mechanism in place, but I think we ought to assure that in all of our checkout procedures that when we are checking some Criticality One item that that is especially flagged in the procedure itself so that the workers involved know that, hey, this thing needs close scrutiny.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: You're reviewing that whole




question of Criticality One and what waivers mean and so forth, I assume?

MR. HARTSFIELD: Yes, sir. The system is doing that, and we have, for example, people from our office sitting with groups, for example, going through our maintenance instructions.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Yes, I meant the system. You are involved in that? The astronauts are involved in that review?



MR. HARTSFIELD: I think we need to take a look at our waiver mechanism as well, because many times checks are called out and then for one reason or another we want to waive that for this particular flight. It was due to be inspected, but let's put it off and just make sure that we have our process going right on the waivers and that the right people are being approached.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. 4/3-19]

MR. HARTSFIELD: Now, that is the maintenance side of the house. In the next chart I get into what I think we ought to be doing to the OPS side, and it is the same sort of thing, and we're in the process right now, for example, of looking at all our flight rules.

We have a set of rules that you may have been




told about that are general in nature of how we operate the orbiter and what we would do in light of certain failures or contingencies, and we try to think all of this out ahead of time so that [1439] if the case presents itself during a flight, that the flight team has a course of action that they are going to follow.

We don't always, I might point out, don't always follow this course of action but the flight rules are a departure point. At least all the thinking has been done in advance under more carefully controlled situations and not in the excitement of the moment.

These flight rules, of course, are going to be measured against, again, what we think the critical items are in the critical systems.

I have the training hat on in the office now, so I am in the process of re-evaluating our training that aspect of the thing to see what I think about the crew workloads and the preparation for flight. There is some evidence, for example, that the demands on the crew, the training process, gets very heavy. Well, it is not evidence. It is there.

About two-thirds of the crews that have flown so far have made statements regarding that they felt there was a time compression in the training in the few weeks before flight, and I think that is something that




we are re-evaluating and saying we are looking at what we can do to offload this work period so that the crew doesn't go flying tired.

There is going to be a little tailup at the end, naturally, because that is when you get your final flight software and you're trying to hone your skills to the highest level, and so you're going to intensify your efforts closer to flight. But some of us have some concerns that maybe this load is getting a little bit on the high side and we ought to look at turning that back down.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What is the age limit of an astronaut, or is there one?



MR. YOUNG: No, there is no age limit. As long as you're physically qualified you can still fly.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Which astronaut was the oldest when he flew?

MR. YOUNG: Dr. Karl Henize.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Do most astronauts-and you may not be able to answer this, but do most astronauts think of their career as astronauts, or would some of them like to move into management?

MR. HARTSFIELD: I think from my standpoint




flying spacecraft is a very interesting job, and I think a lot of people would.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I notice there aren't many astronauts in management, and I've been impressed with one astronaut that has recently gone into management, and that is Admiral Truly.

I wonder if more opportunities should be given to astronauts to move into management?


MR. ABBEY: I know I get a lot of complaints about using them the way we do now, but I think I would certainly agree with that. I think we have had astronauts, and I was going to touch on that a little later in a number of management positions, and I think they could provide and could contribute a lot within the program office.

Frank Borman, for example, after the Apollo accident in 1967, took over the redesign effort and ran that until it came about before we went to fly again, and I think we could well do that again with an astronaut; put him on accomplishing all of this effort within the program office.

[1440] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Does the management make that possible? Do they encourage that development from the astronauts to management?

MR. ABBEY: Within the last month I think we




have felt or I have felt that we are getting a lot of encouragement to do that.


DR. WHEELON: A followup question to the previous comment. You indicated that at the present rate you are pretty busy, perhaps too busy I think you implied.

Can you identify the number of flights that you think it is safe and prudent to get off with three orbiters per year?

MR. HARTSFIELD: Well, I can't do that and I think it is only by going through this process. I have a chart that addresses the flight rate here later. The flight rate has to be determined, as P.J. said I think, from the bottom up, and I think that is the way Admiral Truly is going to approach it.

We need to determine how often we can fly the orbiter from the standpoint of resources, and then we will look at how we support it. I know that we can from the crew's standpoint.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: How is the decision made as to which astronaut should fly on a particular launch?

MR. HARTSFIELD: A lot of us wish we knew that.





MR. YOUNG: It is primarily a rotation basis, and depending upon what missions are up and what people are coming due for training. It is really nothing magic about it. It is sort of straight-forward. Once a person flies they are put back in line and they are supposed to get to fly again, and there may be some reason why they don't but it is very rare.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So it is just an ordinary rotation system?

MR. YOUNG: Pretty much.

MR. ABBEY: There might be some special mission requirement on a particular flight due to an EVA or due to a rendezvous or some special aspect of the flight.

MR. YOUNG: Department of Defense missions are all military.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But who makes the decision? You, Mr. Abbey or Captain Young, or a committee or what?

MR. ABBEY: I think as far as determining who flies on any particular mission, I rely very heavily on the input I get from Paul Weitz and John Young, and really that is kind of a mutual thing that we come up with, depending upon what we have to do on that flight and, as John says, what the rotation is and who's available.




I think John has

MR. YOUNG: Sometimes people come in and ask if they can fly a mission, and we try to honor that if we can do it. Nobody believes that, but it's true.


MR. ABBEY: Probably John has the biggest input as far as that goes. All

MR. RUMMEL: I have a question relating to workload that lies in a somewhat different area, but first I have to ask this.

[1441] As I understand it from what has been said and inferred today, the astronauts are indeed given the opportunity to inject the lessons of experience and their opinions in new development programs, either redevelopment of the Shuttle or new things coming onstream. Is that correct?

MR. WEITZ: Yes, sir.

MR. RUMMEL: Okay, well, my question then has to do with workload and available manpower concerning new programs that might affect the efficiency or the conduct of the Shuttle program.

One that comes to mind would be the space station, for example, which is a major project.

That is coming onstream, and are you able to cope with the kind of workloads that that has imposed or will impose




concerning manpower and the injection of the experience which at least I think is most important that it be done?

MR. ABBEY: Prior to the accident we had approximately one individual in the office working on space station, and then we would draw in other individuals as they became available.

So with the workload that we had prior to the flight, we were not able to put a lot of people into the space station definition.

MR. RUMMEL: Well, does that suggest that this is a budgetary problem of some kind or not?

MR. ABBEY: I think it was just a manpower problem on getting experienced people that could be available to contribute to space station. Most of those people were tied up getting ready for flights or going back into preparations for our mission, so we just didn't have I think sufficient crewmen to make available at that time.

MR. RUMMEL: Do you contemplate that that sort of-I hate to use the word but-deficiency will continue?

MR. ABBEY: No, I would hope that we would be able to free up some experienced crewmen and get them involved in that effort.

MR. RUMMEL: May I ask in this general regard,




too, and take the space station again as an example, in coming to the policy decision to move in that direction, which is probably superb, if various alternatives were also considered, that is the general direction in which the future space effort would go? Are you folks involved in those processes, too?

I suppose if you are at least some degree of manpower loading would be required. Can you comment on that?

MR. YOUNG: Kathy Sullivan is on the National Space Commission, and she has been talking our inputs into that thing probably a lot of the time.

MR. RUMMEL. Do you do your own manpower planning in terms of the numbers of people?

MR. YOUNG: Yes, sir.

MR. RUMMEL: You do. Thank you.

MR. YOUNG: As best we can. It is a very dynamic situation most of the time.

MR. RUMMEL: Thank you.

MR. HARTSFIELD: One area I think that we can improve on, and I've got it under the bullet of mission planning milestones, is we need a little bit more, I think, stability in our manifest. We need to freeze the basic manifest very early so that the products that have to be generated to support a mission can be delivered on


[1442] 2457



Now, by products I mean the trajectory data that has to be built, for example, for a flight and the mass properties of the vehicle that go into the software load that is used to fly that flight. There's a long lead time on that to build that, and if we take something off the flight or put something on it after that process has been started, then that is just like a square wave in the system and they almost have to go back to square one and start over again.

We have had cases where the actual flight software was delivered within a week of the flight, and in several occasions two weeks of the flight, which some of us feel is just too doggone close to the flight to see the final software. We are looking at that now, and I think that we need to be a little tougher in defining the flights.

One other aspect of that is late add-ons to a flight. Now, in some respects it is very easy to say, well, gee whiz, I've got a place to put this little thing and I want to put it on the flight, and it is no big deal. We've got the weight margin. We've got the stowage.

But on the other hand, late additions to a flight, even though they seem innocuous enough, they




still have to go through the safety reviews that we conduct to make sure that there are no materials problems, and it is safe to fly the item.

But in my mind it detracts from what we ought to be concentrating on close to flight. When we're getting within a couple of months of flight we ought to be thinking about the flight we're going to execute and not worry about, well, we've put this on, now we've got to change the procedures, or we've got to put a place in the time line to do it.

What I'm getting at is we'd like to see more stability in the last couple of months toward the flight, and I think we can do a better job there. We certainly are evaluating that now.

(Viewgraph) [Ref. 4/3-20]




VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: I have a question on the section training crew and training. What is the status of the load on your simulators, mission simulators and so on, let's say over the past year before the accident?

MR. HARTSFIELD: You mean how many hours are we getting on them?

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: No, in terms of is it fully loaded or overloaded?

MR. HARTSFIELD: Yes, all of the above.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: It is heavily loaded. You're simulator limited?

MR. HARTSFIELD: We are pretty much so, and in fact that is one when we get through with this kind of overview we were going to address a number of subjects and that is one of them that I would like to talk about.

MR. HOTZ: Could you elaborate just a little bit on the software deliveries on time? Are you experiencing problems with that now?

MR. HARTSFIELD: We have had those problems, yes, sir. For example, on my last flight, 61-A, we got the Right software about two and a half weeks, as I recall, before we flew the final software.

Now we had had previous loads but because of launch date changes and trajectory there wasn't too much trajectory, when you change the launch dates, you change the time period with the general weather


[1443] 2460


patterns. There's a lot of things that go into building the flight software. We had to redo it. In fact, we had three software versions built for that flight. Normally we only build two.

We had to build a third one, and that forced me, because I wanted to see the software, to get involved in the actual checkout of the training load in the simulator, which meant taking the crew and going over late at night when they normally do these things and going through it.

We have, starting with the next load delivery, we have started, because of this, and I'm putting on my training hat here, we've instituted a process to allow the crew to look at the software earlier. One of the things we worry about is shelf life on the software, is what we call it.

In other words, we would like to fly this final software and use it enough so that if there is some little bug that has crept into the software or some bad I-load, that we catch it before we fly. We feel that the more eyes that are looking at the software, the better off we are.

The next chart gets to the thing that I think really is the key in the accident, and that is communications. Apparently we had some sort of




breakdown that the word about the seals certainly didn't get to the right places. It didn't get to JSC in any sort of a fashion that I'm aware of, even to our Level II people, and that is something we have got to correct. We have got to get the communications.

I think basically, as Bob has said, we've got a good system but it's only as good as the data that gets into it.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, we have some reservation about the last comment on whether the system is good. I think the system is probably good as described here this morning, but the system according to the people at Marshall, they complied with the system. They say we had no obligation under the system to do anything that we didn't do. It was a Level III question. As they say, we worked it and therefore we didn't have any responsibility under the system to do anything else.

If that is the system, that's wrong. That is not a good system.

MR. HARTSFIELD: I couldn't agree with you more. Personally, I think that is wrong.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So to that extent if that is the system, it's not a good system.

MR. HARTSFIELD: Let me clarify. When I said




the system I meant the system as we're working it at our Ops side is good, but this part of the channel apparently has broken, or it certainly was broken for this problem. I think we have to correct that, and we are going to correct it. I don't think we can afford to let something like that continue.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: It seems here, speaking again for myself but I think most people on the Commission agree with me, that if that is the s em that there is no obligation when a critical matter is involved and the contractor or the engineers and the contractor have serious questions about it. There is no-under the system there is no responsibility to convey that information to Level II or Level I. That is a flaw of the system.

It may be that that is not the system. Maybe the system is that they should have conveyed it. If that is the case, I think that is a failure of those involved to comply with the system. Either one is wrong, and it seems to me we have to be sure that we correct both.

MR. HARTSFIELD: Well, that's true. The system obviously depends upon people. I mean, the people are the weak link.

[1444] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But going back, they say no. They say-the people in Marshall say no, we




complied with the system. We did exactly what the system told us to do. We considered this, and we had a Telefax, and we didn't have any obligation to bell Level II or Level I.

If they are correct at that, that is a flaw of the system it seems to us. We must see that on matters of critical importance of that type, the system would require that that information be provided to Level II and Level I, and all of the astronauts should be aware of it.

Now, maybe that isn't the system. I think that probably Mr. Aldrich and others will feel that that was not the system. The system required them to tell Level II and Level I about this problem.

Mr. Aldrich did say in that meeting that I referred to at 2:00 on the day before the launch, if there is any considerations about weather that we should know about, let me know. So he apparently relied upon that instruction that anything to do with weather concerns, including the joint or anything else, should be conveyed to him, and it wasn't conveyed to him.

Anyway, I think the Commission has received a lot of information about the lack of communication, and I think we are in a position to make some recommendations that will be constructive.

MR. HARTSFIELD: Well, good, because the




purpose of this bullet is that is what we want to see. We want to see that we do have the information flowing to the proper channels, and there is a line organization such that where these things go up and down-now, the next bullet I think addresses that, John's going to talk about it more. I guess we would like to see some sort of an independent safety panel effort that is at all levels that provides an independent channel for those things ñ only with safety hat, someone that's not worried about programmatic issues but just is thinking safety.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, I'm glad because there again that is one of the things we are thinking about recommending is some kind of independent safety panel. We would be very happy to get your views on that because we think it is very important and we're not quite sure how that should be set up, but I think all of us believe that there should be an independent safety review or panel of some type, so we look forward to that.

MR. HARTSFIELD: All right. You mentioned flight rate, and I think my next chart addresses that.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref.-4/3-21]

MR. HARTSFIELD: I think we've already discussed the bottom-up approach, so there is no need of belaboring it, but the flight rate has to be established on what our capabilities are. With this




review we're doing on our test and checkout procedures, we're going to come up with what it takes to turn the orbiter around, and then we play that against what resources we have.

How many people do we have working at KSC, and what do we have at the Cape? Do we have to share those people and move them back? I don't know how that is set up, but it boils down to resources and what we have to do.

Certainly initially, as Admiral Truly has said, we are going to establish a flight rate based upon those kind of inputs, and then as we start flying we may be able to increase the flight rate, [1445] and I certainly hope we would, but that has got to be based upon, again, what our capability is and I say new reliability history.

What I really mean is as we get more information on the systems, maybe for example we're checking the system after every flight and we never see anything wrong with it, and maybe through agreement we can say maybe we'll check this on every other flight, that's just an example or we might find something we're checking every fifth flight is showing some problems, and we ought to increase the check rate.

So this is a give and take, but we only can expand the flight rate or increase it based upon our experience.




Well, now, we'll get to the chart you're all looking for, the summary.

(Viewgraph [Ref 4/3-22]

MR. HARTSFIELD: I think we're on the right track. I really do. I think we are doing the right things. The only thing I'm concerned about is that we don't stop and we carry them right on to fruition and we look at what we need to do before we fly.

Despite what has happened, I still feel that we've got some of the best people in the world working at NASA. I know that they're some of the finest people I've ever worked with. They're dedicated people, and they take a lot of pride in their work. They were just as much hurt by this accident as we were, and they want to get us on the road again, and I think they are. I've got faith in them.

There is one thing that I would like to leave here, and that is in that last "but" down there. We've got to be very careful. I'm concerned that the cure may be worse than the illness. I don't think we ought to run off doing some half-hearted-or let me put it this way-hasty fixes, thinking we've got to go do this and let's throw it on the bird because that's going to fix this problem. Sometimes we find that when you do those kind of things what we just put on there is more of a




problem than the system we had.

So we need to fix those things that we have to fix that we've identified through this review process, like the seals. It may be that, as I said earlier, that some things we might want to live with by very careful quality control while we research the fix, and we need to fix it but let's don't be very hasty about it. We need to very thoroughly and rationally evaluate all of these things.

So that, to me, is a concern and I don't know whether that is shared by other folks. I think it is.

(Viewgraph.) [Ref. -4/3-23]

MR. HARTSFIELD: My final thoughts are that I think we have got to accept-this has been discussed before, too-that the STS is certainly not an operational system in the traditional sense, and it can't be. Certainly for those of us that fly it, it will never be routine and there will always be risks associated with flying in space. We will fix all these problems and go fly again, but it is still going to be a risky business, and I think everybody should remember that.

The bottom line is, though, that this daggone vehicle is probably the most magnificent and fantastic machine I've ever seen, and it is something that we all ought




to be proud of It has capabilities that are totally unmatched anywhere in the world. There's nobody that has a machine like this, and if we use it properly I think it can do a great deal for this country.

[1446] I think that is the way. We've got to exploit the things that it does well and carry on.

DR. FEYNMAN: I would like to make some comments about that. I agree with you, that it is the most fantastic machine and so forth, but one has the possibility of forgetting something in the process, and that is what you kept talking about, accepting risks.

It is, therefore, important to understand that although it is the most wonderful and fantastic machine as you mentioned it, but I'm just trying to emphasize it for you, and that it is a risky machine and has flaws. It has difficulties. It is not complete. It is not perfect. It is not operational exactly.

I'm trying to figure out where the difficulty is in this system that made it go wrong, and I think you may be addressing it later when you're talking about the safety panel, but let me suggest something and see if we agree with what your questions are.

The problem is communication, and the communication will be fixed if you have the safety panel, if there is a member of the astronauts on the




safety panel, because then you will be fully aware of all the things that are unsafe.

So the communication problem in the safety panel, as long as it has astronaut representation on it, will automatically fix each other with regard to an understanding of what the real risks are.

Because the idea that you accept risks, the consideration of this thing is always during flight. It is a flight review, and so you decide what risks to accept. I read all of these reviews, and they agonize whether they can go even though they had some blow-by in the seal or they had a cracked blade in the pump of one of the engines, whether they can go the next time or this time, and they decide yes. Then it flies and nothing happens.

Then it is suggested, therefore, that that risk is no longer so high. For the next flight we can lower our standards a little bit because we got away with it last time. If you watch the criteria of how much blow-by you're going to accept or how many cracks or how long the thing goes between cracks, you will find that the time is always decreasing and an argument is always given that the last time it worked.

It is a kind of Russian roulette. You got away with it, and it was a risk. You got away with it,




but it shouldn't be done over and over again like that. When I look at the reviews, I find the perpetual movement heading for trouble.

So I would like to know if by a safety review board you mean this, that there should be after each-there should be during a flight review a permanent place, the safety board or whatever you want to call it, which rides herd on that difficulty and tries to get rid of it as quickly as possible and actively for the next flight.

I think that is what is missing in the system that you say is so good. I think we haven't got a direct action, positive activity, someone whose responsibility is to work as hard as possible to keep everybody awake to the last thing that had to be accepted.

Would you agree with something like that? Is that what you meant by your safety board?

MR. HARTSFIELD: Yes. I think you've said that very well. That would certainly be my concept of the way the system would work. The safety panel, he has no axe to grind. His only interest is the safety of the vehicle and mission success, and they go hand-in-hand.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, thank you very much. I must say that is an excellent presentation.


[1447] 2471


We would like, if we may, to adjourn for lunch and then come back. I don't think we can finish before lunch, and so I would like, if it is okay with you, to take an hour's break and then come back at quarter after one.

(Whereupon, at 12:20 p.m. the proceedings in the above-entitled matter recessed, to reconvene at 1:20 p.m. this same day.)





(1:20 p.m.)



CHAIRMAN ROGERS: On the record. Mr. Abbey.

MR. ABBEY: We were kind of at the point where we wanted to address some specific concerns so, if we may, John was going to bring up at least two and then we would go from there.


MR. YOUNG: We have been talking about some concerns we have had in the Astronaut Office for many years, and one of them is the prudence of landing the vehicle at Edwards or Northrup strip complexes. The reason is because of the things that you learn about both the vehicle and the system when you start using it. I will try to explain that. I'm a Florida boy myself. I always thought that the program should land the orbiter at Kennedy.

Over the past five or six years what has happened is we have come to some very different conclusions based on learning about the environment that exists in that world and learning about the limitations of the orbiter that we have in that environment.

One significant difference in Florida is the difficulty of accurately forecasting the occurrence of thunderstorms, fogs or crosswinds for an end-of-mission




landing. You have to do that about an hour and a half prior to landing the vehicle, and that is a very difficult and complex job because of the dynamic environment that Kennedy area presents.

The orbiter requires much better weather than you might imagine to be able to make reasonable approaches and landings. We're looking for ceilings with a microwave landing system in excess of 8,000 feet so that the crewmen can make the proper corrections in case those things are not working just properly.

Then we're looking at crosswinds not very high, because right now with the vehicle we have, we have a system that is single string to its nosewheel steering. There are numerous failures that can cause you to be no string to its nosewheel steering.

We have a brake system on the orbiter that has-that is very heavily loaded and is sort of energy limited. It is very difficult to use precisely right now. In fact, we're finding out we don't really have a good technique for applying the brakes, and on one landing we were told that we put the brakes on too long at too high an air speed and kept them on too long. Then the next landing, that was perfect as far as we were concerned. We were told we put the brakes on too short and kept them on, and put them on too hard.




Well, that is a very strange thing. We don't believe that astronauts or pilots should be able to break the brakes, and that is sort of what has been happening to us. When you land at Kennedy, with the tires that we have because of the runway, the vehicle is heavily loaded during rotation. As it pitches over the elevons come up and the main tires are heavily loaded. If either [1448] one of those tires has leaked down on you-which you don't know right now because we don't know once we get the vehicle up in the stack whether the tires have leaked or not.

If either one of those main landing gear tires have leaked down on you, the information is that the next tire will fail. When that happens, if you don't have nosewheel steering, with the simulations that we have run and any amount of crosswind at Kennedy in excess of ten knots, the data shows that you have trouble keeping the vehicle on the runway. These are from simulations, not from anything that is new.

So we think we've learned, at least as far as we've gone so far, how the vehicle operates. We are pushing to make our nosewheel steering more than single string so that many failures can't take the nosewheel system down.




We found out also that handling qualities of the nosewheel steering are very sensitive to what kind of tire model we use. We re running the simulation right now at Ames, as I told you, and we found that this vehicle that we have now with the new tire model which is based on Langley test data does not handle nearly as well as the system that we used last time with the old tire model.

So now we're having to tune the general purpose computer handling qualities to a new tire model, and I'm not sure that when we land on the real runway for the real first time that we won't be looking at a totally different tire model.

At Kennedy the runway surface is very rough in a high crosswind, which it is difficult to predict what kind of crosswind you're going to have when you start out. You may want to limit your end-of-mission crosswind to ten knots, but when you arrive there an hour and a half later it could be something different than that.

In a high crosswind it tends to scrape the cords off the tires, and that is very hard on tires. The runway is surrounded by a moat, and depending upon how much rain you've had the water could be pretty close to the runway. It doesn't meet Air Force runway




standards. If you have certain failures, it's going to be very difficult to make the runway.

One failure that we talked about the other day that might hurt you on the end of mission is an early geardown situation. That requires two failures to get it but if that happens to you while you're up around 180 it is equivalent to having halfspeed brakes all the way down, and unless you have visual contact with the runway and when the 180 degree position is 23,000 or 24,000 feet-excuse me, 28,000 feet, it might be difficult to get there. We think that would be very bad.

On the lake bed complex like Edwards, with 20 miles-that is 20 miles long and 7 miles wide, you don't have that problem; or at White Sands, where we have two intersecting runways that are the equivalent of being 29,000 feet long and 900 feet wide.

We just think it would be more prudent and safer for the program to take this vehicle and land it at the runway complexes for end of mission. What I mean, I think it would avoid some of the risks associated and make sure that we get the vehicle back every time.

Now, we know we spend a lot of program resources on building up the Kennedy system and making




it possible for us to land there and that we do have to land there and the times that we have return-to-landing-site abort because there's just nowhere else, but if we ever have a landing accident-and that was really the first accident that I thought we would ever have going into Kennedy. We spent a lot of money on that place and we did a lot to it, but if we ever run off the [1449] runway at Kennedy the repair bill is going to be probably enough to build five or six more runways there at Kennedy.

So we think the lake bed complex, the dry lake bed complexes would be much better for the overall good of the space program. That is kind of what we recommend.

MR. RUMMEL: Has consideration been given to any sort of landing barriers at the end of the runway; large, very strong nylon nets or whatever to take care of or help take care of overruns?

MR. YOUNG: Well, there again, sir, you would be looking at some vehicle damage. We are looking at barriers and barricades but what kind you want to have and how big you make it and how do you avoid getting any damage to the vehicle is certainly a consideration.

People are looking at barriers. I think that they would be more applicable to trans-Atlantic abort sites where your runway lengths are limited and you are





MR. RUMMEL: Yes, that is why I asked, because as you indicated there may be no alternative except to land at Kennedy.

MR. YOUNG: Well, that is certainly something that people are looking at. The difficulty with the barricade or barrier is to design one that this geometrically shaped machine will go through and not hurt everything so bad and slow everything down at the same time. It is really a tough engineering problem.

MR. RUMMEL: Yes, it is.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What about the weather considerations? What is the effect of rain on the orbiter? If you landed at Kennedy and a sudden squall came up that was not predicted, what would the effect of rain be on the orbiter?

MR. YOUNG: Well, Mr. Rogers, I'm sure glad you asked.


CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I didn't realize you had this, John.

MR. YOUNG: Here's a visual aid. That is the effect of 10 to 15 seconds of light to moderate rain on the real orbiter tile, and I think the repair bill for doing that to the whole orbiter, if it didn't hurt the




lift-to-drag ratio very bad, would be-I mean the turnaround time would be unbelievable. That is why if you can't predict when a thunderstorm is going to arrive at the Cape, it is better to avoid that problem.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What about the safety factors though, aside from the damage to the orbiter? Is it safe to land the orbiter at Kennedy if it's raining.?

MR. YOUNG: Well, you have a wet runway but the runway is highly grooved, so it might be safe. I would be more worried about the other part of the environment. If you ever came through a rain like that-I mean, you're not going to save yourself any turnaround time because you're talking about many days of serial time to repair the damage. That would be what you would be concerned about. I would be concerned about getting that damage all over the vehicle and picking up maybe 100 or 125 or 130 drag counts and then having a wind situation where it wouldn't be able to make the runway.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: That is what I was asking about.

MR. YOUNG: The engineering people say it would only be half that is the most drag counts they could ever get, but I don't know if they've ever seen


[1450] 2480


any damage like that. I mean, I don't know if they were really

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: How good are the weather predictions in Florida in terms of quick squalls like that that might cause that kind of damage?

MR. YOUNG: One day we took Mr. Walt Williams out to give him a flight in the STA, and there was one little thunderstorm sitting 13 miles off the end of the runway. Thirty minutes later there was a squall line across both ends of the runway. Before we went out we checked with the weather and they said there wasn't going to be any.

That is not unusual, and it wouldn't hurt a regular airplane. You wouldn't care at all. You would just go right ahead and fly but you worry about that with a real orbiter because of the problems associated with those kind of events.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What choice do you have once the decision is made to land at Kennedy and you have an hour and a half to go? I mean, is there anything you can do during that hour and a half period if the weather changes?

MR. YOUNG: Once you have been given the go for deorbit if you lose communications or if you don't have communications right up to the time you deorbit, which is a little over an hour, maybe an hour and a




minute prior to deorbit-we waved off Crip one time three minutes prior to deorbit on STS-7 or 41-C, and they reported to us the weather was going to be clear at the time of landing.

At the time of landing, there was 11,500 foot rain showers over the end of the runway, so it's a difficult problem, and I think we were about three minutes away from having Crip land in some pretty interesting rain showers.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Once deorbit occurs is there any option left?

MR. YOUNG: No, sir. It is not like an airplane where any time you go somewhere in weather you always have an alternate. You are committed to land on one end of the runway or the other end of the runway. You can swap runways maybe from about Mach 6 which is 12 minutes prior to deorbit is when they would like to do it-I'm sorry, 12 minutes prior to landing, but that is about the extent of your capability in terms of going to an alternate.

MR. HOTZ: John, do you have any crossrange alternates?

MR. YOUNG: No, sir. We have talked about that, but the problem you get into there is that's even more harmful to the program. Suppose you did have a




crossrange alternate and you ended up in Orlando, for example. It's perfectly safe, but then you're looking at a long time to get your machine back to Kennedy. What do you do, close the Beeline and tow it?


MR. YOUNG: That would really be a tremendous problem to do that. You would probably have to chop up some overpasses and stuff.

MR. HOTZ: But it would be a safety alternative?

MR. YOUNG: It could be, but I'm not sure. Would it be worth that risk? I mean, would it be worth it to the program to slow it down that much? I don't think so. I mean, I think you would be better off flying it into Edwards and bringing it back in four days or so, and that way you wouldn't have to worry about that safety alternate.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: What conclusions do you draw from what you've said, that you should not land at Kennedy except in an emergency?

[1451] MR. YOUNG: I think for a return-to-landing-site abort it's the place to land because it's the only one there is, but the rest of the time I think it would be in the best interest of the Space Shuttle program to land at one of these lake bed complexes




because of all of the reasons that I've given there, and I left out some others.

For example, there are nine-there are 14 different procedures that crews have to use during breaking and rolling out, and there are seven other safety-critical procedures they must use during breaking and rollout. These are different from what you use.

I mean, we have to train the pilots to do that using simulators, and the only one that is really a valid simulation of that kind of thing is the Ames Research Center simulator. It's a good simulator, but you just can't go one time to a simulator and do all the rest of your training somewhere else and say that you know how to do it because you revert to your old habits.




CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Do any of you other gentlemen have any other views on this subject?

Mr. Hartsfield?

MR. HARTSFIELD: I tend to agree with John. I for one began very much as you did, thinking that as soon as we get things squared away we ought to land at the Cape. I have since changed my mind, based primarily on the fact that we have got a lot of problems with the brakes and the nosewheel steering. The problem that I have with the Cape, if those were fixed, if we had a good, redundant nosewheel steering system and brakes that we could depend on, that were more natural to operate-and incidentally, let me point out that we are pushing the state of the art on these brakes, and so it is not an easy solution, but then, the weather factor is certainly something to consider. I know that of all my years of flying at Edwards, that the weather is very predictable there, and it is generally good. When it is good, it is going to be good, and you've got a complex of runways to choose from, and we can make a last minute change of runways, for example, if the wind shifts on us, and put the bird more into the wind to avoid the cross wind problems.

The thing that bothers me about the Cape is the weather. Even the first flight we took in there,




STS-11, I believe it was, if you look at that, it is a little frightening. You see patches of ground fog all over the place, and they're pulling streamers off the wingtips as he makes his final flare to land, and that wasn't predicted. So we were just that close to him coming back to a socked in airport and I don't think we want to risk that kind of thing.

MR. CRIPPEN: I don't think you would get any pilot in the astronaut office to disagree with the basic premise that you are much safer landing at Edwards. There are some things you could do, as was indicated, to make Kennedy better, but you're never going to overcome the weather unpredictability.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So you all agree with Admiral Truly's plan that certainly for the next few flights you plan to land at Edwards?

MR. CRIPPEN: Yes, sir.

MR. ABBEY: I think the question John raises on the stability of the weather is a fairly key point because you want to go into an environment where the weather pattern is going to be stable and predictable for a long period of time, and at Edwards and in New Mexico you have both those situations.

[1452] We have tried to get into Kennedy a number of times, and we have proven that we couldn't predict the




weather, and it has changed on us very rapidly. Crippen was waved off twice, and in December we had three wave-offs.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Weitz, do you agree?

MR. WEITZ: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Do you have anything to add to what has been said?

MR. YOUNG: No, sir.

DR. WHEELON: Mr. Chairman, may I make a comment on this? If we were to accept this very reasonable consensus and implement it so that we land only at Edwards except in the case of emergency, then our attention turns naturally to the way that we get from Edwards back to Florida for relaunch. That way is a single 747 that has been specially modified to carry the orbiter. That 747 becomes a single point of failure in the Shuttle program, and I submit that we ought to think hard about the possibility of buying a second one.

Do you have any comment on that, gentlemen?

MR. ABBEY: We have been, I think, talking about doing that, and I am very hopeful that that is going to be one thing that we get into the budget.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: If there are no other questions, do you want to proceed, Captain Young?




MR. YOUNG: Another issue that many people have raised is why don't we do auto land, and they are talking about auto land both to improve our ability to handle low ceilings and visibility, and as you see what happens when you talk about doing auto land at the low ceilings and visibility, you are probably going to be in the rain. If you are not going to be in the rain, you are going to be in very low ceilings which are about zero-zero practically, and I suggest that you probably don't want to land the orbiter in those kind of conditions, for many, many reasons.

We propose, it has been proposed to do automatic approaches to low altitude and low altitude operations in clouds or in a ceiling or reduced visibility does introduce more risk into the human controlled approach, and it is not just the machine itself; it is the interaction of the human beings with that machine. Our current mission rule has 8,000 foot altitude, and that gives us five miles of visibility to the precision approach indicators where if a fellow is doing a heavyweight landing into Dakar, he has got about 28 seconds to preflare altitude, which is where you have to be set up right, and less than 18 seconds to 4000 feet, and with the automatic speed brake system that we have, it is mandatory for a Dakar landing with a short runway




to be set up in a stable dive by 4000 feet to do a successful preflare and landing, and it is particularly true when that vehicle is heavyweight and the runway is short and narrow like it is at Dakar, or if it is like it is with a rough surface as Kennedy, and it has a cross wind or tail wind. We need ground sensors operating full time to do auto lands, and we feel that with only three orbiters left right now, that lower weather minimums is about the opposite of what the Space Shuttle program ought to want to do for a long time.

We also sort of have a requirement because people up in space tend to get rusty, and people who haven't flown the orbiter tend to get rusty, to have them fly the control stick so that they get some stick time just before landing, and normally that is about three minutes of attitude control stick time all the way around the heading alignment circle to landing. And therefore, we [1453] believe that automatic approaches would not be the way to fly the orbiter successfully when the pilot has got to do the landing. Crew monitoring for auto-land the way the Navy does automatic landings, they require two independent auto land monitoring systems before they can do autolands. At the present, with the Shuttle auto-land system, we have no independent monitoring system, and no one really knows how to




implement one independent monitoring system for successful low altitude crew takeovers. Even if successful crew takeover could be done, which it really can't, crew interaction with auto-land in the Shuttle, crews really can't successfully interact with the auto land system at low altitude because we have these great big elevons on the back, and we have a little bitty attitude control stick, and it can move those big elevons an awful long way awful fast. And when that happens, exciting things happen.

We actually train our pilots not to use the attitude control stick very much. They set up a trajectory, and the closer they get to the ground, if they are set up right, the less they move that control stick. And the orbiter exhibits what we call reverse altitude responses, and I will tell you what that means. And when it does that, a natural reflex takeover pilot action would be the exact wrong thing to do. For example, if you've got a sudden nosedown pitchover when you are doing auto land, the reflex action to take over would be to pull back on the stick, to pull the nose up, and it would be-what it would do, it would raise those elevons, drop lift on the wing, and drive the wheels right into the ground at a high sink rate. And then the only way that people do operate




on an auto-land touchdown machine safely is with a go-around capability provided by throttles. That is how you get yourself out of all kinds of jams with airliners, and needless to say, the hundreds of approaches to touchdown that airliners must make to get FAA certified to autoland, we will never be able to do in an orbiter.

And the auto land system is dependent on many sensors, and it is always one failure away from not working at all because it isn't even in the backup flight system. An inavertent backup flight system engagement would be catastrophic if you had to do an auto land.

For all those reasons and for many others, we don't view auto lands as a practical solution to any problem in the Space Shuttle program, and I guess we have stated that to the program folks. And I guess the overall basis for that is that it is just not-it is not something that is going to do the program any good.

And I wish it was because I am not against auto lands, but I am sure against not being able to do it right.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Thank you, Captain Young.

I assume that part of your job over the years




has been to learn about concerns of astronauts and to express them to the system, and to express your own concerns.

One of the questions I think the Commission has and wants to address to you, do you feel that those concerns have been properly and appropriately handled by the system?

MR. YOUNG: Sometimes yes and sometimes no. You know, the NASA way of doing things is an interactive, argumentative way of doing things; everybody presents a pretty solid image to the public and everything, but when you get in a meeting with engineers, you are in a knock [1454] down, drag out discussion about how you want to do things, and that is the way we operate, and I don't see anything wrong with that, but I hate to lose. But we sure don't win them all.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, I think we all understand that. I think the thing that would concern us is if you felt that the concerns that you expressed and the concerns you expressed on behalf of the astronaut community were not considered by the system.

MR. YOUNG: Sometimes they are and sometimes they are not, and I think that is pretty understandable.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, I guess maybe I didn't




ask the right question.

I don't mean do they always agree with you, but did you have a feeling that consideration was given to the questions that you raised about safety?

MR. YOUNG: Yes, sir. I don't know how much, though. I mean, I am not able to judge what weight they would put on those kind of things.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, without going back over the past history of problems that were presented to the system and how they were handled, do you now think that there are matters in addition to the ones that you have talked about today that are important safety considerations that are not being given the proper attention?

MR. YOUNG: I think as a result of this review that Henry talked about, I think they will be, yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: You are satisfied, then, that the concerns that you have expressed in the past and the ones that you may have in your mind today are being properly considered under Admiral Truly and in view of the study that is now being undertaken?

MR. YOUNG: Yes, sir, and I think that is going to be an ongoing process for a long, long time. And I am going to keep an eye on it, yes, sir.




CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Do you have any recommendations to make in the structural organization as it exists? Now, as I understand it, the astronauts' concerns are normally expressed to you, although sometimes they are handled directly by particular astronauts, most of them are expressed to you and Mr. Weitz, and then as I understand it, you would pass those on to Mr. Abbey and Mr. Crippen in that office, and they would consider them and do whatever was appropriate, including pass them on?

MR. YOUNG: That's how the system works, and we work a lot of off line things in other areas, other arenas, flight techniques meetings and things like that; where we can work them at low levels, we do.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Do you have any recommendation for changes in the structure?

MR. YOUNG: I have one that we will talk about later, yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Do you want to wait until later, or do you want to do it now?

MR. YOUNG: No, sir, I would rather wait until Mr. Abbey sets me up for it.


CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Any way you want is fine with us.





MR. WEITZ: I would like to address a couple of concerns we have, and as a demonstration of the fact that John and I did not rehearse and compare notes, he has kind of spiked my guns a little bit on the first one. We do have some concerns aver the considerations that have been [1455] given to the possibility of executing a TAL, a transatlantic abort landing, which by our approach to the rules under which we decide whether the conditions are acceptable for a TAL are somewhat modified and flavored by consideration of the probability of occurrence. By that I mean that-and of course, we have gotten new data recently which I think only serves to underscore our concerns. One is that we have in the past launched flights that required a waiver over the maximum allowable TAL weight at Dakar, and I am referring primarily to Dakar, because the bulk of our missions do go out at 28-1/2 degree inclination launch, and therefore Dakar is the prime TAL site.

As John alluded to, we have serious reservations about the nosewheel steering system and the capability of the brakes to stop this vehicle, and we also accept lower weather minimum at Dakar in light of or in the regime of visibility requirements. The ceiling requirements are the same, the visibility




requirements there are five miles rather than eight, or six rather than eight, but it is on the order of something less. What we do not want to do is run an airplane, an orbiter, off the end. We only have one suitable runway at Dakar since the wind is primarily from the northeast quadrant there, and the prevailing wind runway. Dakar often has visibility problems caused by the winds that blow across the northwestern African deserts and pick up dust and sand and keep it in the area, and I lose track of our numbers, but I know that we did delay for several days on one mission because of poor visibility at Dakar.

So basically we do have a concern with the approach to how we systematically approach the requirements for the conditions at Dakar when it is a primary TAL site.

Another concern that we have is night landings. We have demonstrated more than once, twice now, that we do in fact have the capability to safely land the orbiter at night. However, a night landing is not quite the same as a day landing, principally because it is at night, which I will get into a little bit, but in those cases where the conduct of the mission absolutely requires it, then we will accept the responsibility to go and either launch at night or land




at night or do both, if required. It is just that sometimes there have been instances in the past when the hard, firm, absolute requirements of the mission did not in fact mandate the conditions which resulted in a night launch or a night landing. It was more to maximize, either to increase by some percentage the scientific return on a mission or to have a wider launch window to take advantage of on launch morning.

The reasons we don't like night landings are, as I said, because it is at night. In fact, your landing the orbiter is like landing any other airplane in which you primarily use your outside scene as the cues on which to get down once you get in close to the ground. Once you get past the preflare point and get within that last couple of hundred feet of the ground, at night those cues just aren't there. You must rely on the guidance and navigation system which is resident within the orbiter, and you basically use electronic displays in order to get you down. You don't perceive-if you have a cross wind, for example, it is much more difficult to perceive drift across the runway at night than it is in the morning.

We have a principal example of that by the fact that a very highly experienced pilot of ours landed at night on a wet runway at Ellington, experienced




hydroplaning which he did not recognize the fact that he was drifting off the runway and wound up leaving the runway and nearly destroying the airplane. Fortunately he was not injured, but [1456] had that occurred in the daytime, he would have recognized the drift, the condition, much earlier, and been able to do something about it.

So it basically is not suppression but the lack of outside environment visual cues which you experience in the night landings that we would like to avoid then to the maximum extent possible.

Another consideration along those lines is that just as the pilot is deprived of his ability to discern what is going on around him, so are the folks involved in weather observing and forecasting. In fact, we had one mission that would have been a night TAL at Dakar, and even after the fact-was that Dakar or Morone? Anyway, I think it was Dakar where there was some dispute as to whether the ceiling was on the order of 3,000 or 4,000 feet or whether it was up around 8,000 or 9,000 feet. And so the weathermen are making the observations, and therefore, that is going to influence the validity of their forecast and also obviously influence the launch director's decision whether to go or not.




Another thing we cannot overlook is that training to do a night landing requires a significant amount of crew time. Our nearest training site using the Shuttle Training Airplane is at the White Sands Space Harbor in El Paso which, if you go out there to fly at night, you basically have shot nearly a whole day and a half. By the time you get out you observe crew rest requirements from a pilot freshness standpoint, and it is very hard on the crew when they are trying to get out to come up to the level of proficiency that we feel is required for a planned night landing.

We do train every crew to be capable of performing a night landing, but if we know that folks are in fact going to be required to perform one, then it does require-we do expose those folks, require that they do get more training.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Weitz.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: I understand that Casablanca is a potential alternate TAL, and is there significant performance penalty in terms of the inclination to successfully utilize that?

MR. WEITZ: Well, it's on order. We would have to go up to about 31, 31 1/2 degrees, and what number are we using now, 600 pounds a degree or a 1000 pounds a degree? So you are talking on the order of




2,000 to 3,000 pounds performance penalty. But in those cases where we have that performance, we would like to consider shaping to go do it, which requires more resources. Another reason we have locked in on a standard 28 1/2 degree inclination is there are a lot of things in trajectory planning and analysis we don't have to do over and over when you start picking difference launch azimuths.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: How many night landings have there been?


CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Who was the commander?

MR. WEITZ: Admiral Truly made the first one, and he complained bitterly. He stayed up all night and went to bed during the day, but no one else did.


MR. WEITZ: And the second one was Hoot Gibson landed at Edwards about an hour before sunrise, I think.


Any other questions?

[1457] GENERAL KUTYNA: John, let me ask you, if you go into Dakar on a TAL with some of the heavyweight payloads that we have planned, and the brakes you have now, can you stop?




MR. YOUNG: It depends upon what brake energy margin and what kind of a head wind or tail wind you've got. I think the latest Ames Sim showed that. It was really touch and go. You have to put the brakes on with 5,000 feet to go in a no-wind situation when you are doing 165 knots, and I think that would be really, you know, you are putting those brakes on so darned fast that you use the energy up just like nothing flat, and if they don't hold up, if they don't give you the full brake amount, which is 55 million foot pounds, if they fail at 40 million foot pounds, like 44 million foot pounds per brake, as we have had happen, or maybe at 34 million foot pounds, like happened on Hoot Gibson's flight, which we still don't understand the reason for that failure, I know you would be in real trouble on stopping.

GENERAL KUTYNA: And what's at the end of the runway?

MR. YOUNG: Well, there's a block house and a cliff.


MR. HOTZ: John, what kind of an engineering effort is ongoing on the brake problem, and is it a matter of technology or money to fix it?

MR. YOUNG: It is a matter, I believe, of




money, yes, sir.

MR. HOTZ: Thank you.

MR. YOUNG: But I can't tell you where that stands right now. That is one of the issues that we are carrying on right now with the program office.

MR. HOTZ: But is there any kind of an engineering program under way?

MR. YOUNG: They are looking at carbon brakes. I saw the spec on them the other day, and some of those were rated at up to 100 million foot pounds per brake, an I've seen others with 70 million foot pounds per brake. And there are four brakes, two on each tire.

MR. CRIPPEN: John, if I could interrupt, probably Mr. Aldrich can give you more data on this, but there is an ongoing program for improving the brakes, and there has been for some time.

MR. YOUNG: But it takes a long time to build a set of new brakes.

MR. HOTZ: But is it a question of technology? Do you have to go into another order of brake technology?

MR. YOUNG: These are carbon brakes.

MR. HOTZ: Are they the same kind they use on the Concord?




MR. CRIPPEN: They do have carbon brakes on the Concord and several other aircraft. It is not so much developing new technology, but we have discovered that the making of aircraft brakes is more of an art than it is a science, and especially on airplanes, you have the opportunity to take them out and do ground runs and make adjustments for them, and we really don't have that kind of a facility available to us. Consequently, we are also developing a new lab at Wright Pat to help us do some of those kinds of tests so that we can improve the brakes.

MR. HOTZ: Thank you.

MR. HARTSFIELD: I would like to talk about a couple of items that we are concerned about that relate-they are training items, really, but they are things starting to concern us, and what PJ and John have been talking about lead right into it. One is handling qualities. The orbiter is [1458] a really nice flying machine up and away, but when you get it down close to the runway where it becomes important to have good handling qualities, it has some very strange characteristics. Neil will understand this, I know, but the pilot is located at or slightly aft of the apparent center of rotation, which is kind of a bad place for the pilot to be. It is just the nature of the airplane because of




the large percentage of the wing area that is in the elevons themselves, and the end result is what John talks about, when the pilot makes an input, he doesn't get any physical feedback that he has done something, and so you have to learn to fly the orbiter pretty much open loop. You make small inputs and then wait and see what happens, and that is not a natural pilot instinct. So we spend a lot of time training the pilots in the training airplane.

Further aggravating this problem of sensing what is happening is the eye height. You are about 33 feet, your eyeballs are, above the ground when you touch down, and that is in the same ballpark as, say, like a 747 or something, and of course they have perception problems, too, and I have talked to those guys on how they land those things, and they pretty much set up a steady rate of descent and just fly them on.

Our problem is aggravated by the fact that we are decelerating rather rapidly and losing over 5 knots a second. We are just a glider, and so we have to set it up and get it on the ground. As John says, we learn not to make inputs close to the ground because anything you do is wrong.

For example, the sink rate, if you sense the sink rate is a little bit too high, the instinct is




to put in a little backstick. As soon as you do that, you move the elevons. One degree of elevon at 200 knots is worth 6,000 pounds of lift, so you move them 3 or 4 degrees, and you've really dumped a lot of lift, and the thing really drops in on you.

So it takes a lot of time to learn this technique.

Now, the STA, our training airplane, the modified Gulfstream II, is the essential link in this training, and that is where we really learn to fly the orbiter and learn to land it, and we can't do this in a simulator. We need the real flight environment, and you need this training airplane to learn how to land.

Now, all the pilots who have flown the orbiter come back and sing the praise of the training airplane. I know it has been my case and everybody that has ever flown it, that you come back after six or seven days in space and the first time you do this, I guess almost every time you are a little apprehensive that, you know, gee, I haven't flown in a long while, I've been up there for six or seven days and my reflexes maybe aren't what they should be. You take over the machine, and you feel it out, but as soon as you start around the heading alignment circle, all of a sudden it clicks and you say I've been here before, and the reason you have is that training airplane.




Well, what I'm leading up to is we are beginning to get in a lifetime problem with those airplanes, and that is starting to worry us. Let me give you an example. A pilot that starts into the flow, by the time he becomes a commander and lands the orbiter for the first time, he will have made in the vicinity of 900 approaches with that training airplane, and we find this, that this is about right. In fact, some pilots will tell you they would like to have a little more, but that is about what we are getting.

[1459] For 12 flights a year, to support that sort of program, I am just giving you a rough number, we need about 1400 hours of training time a year in the training airplanes. At optimum, we can get about 750 hours on each airplane, and you figure, we find that we get roughly a 70 percent effectiveness factor. In other words, a lot of the flying time on an airplane is not dedicated totally to training. You are moving the airplane back and forth to Ellington or to the factory for inspections, you know, there is overhead. So three airplanes can give you, if you could get 750 a year, which we had last year, you could get 575 hours, so roughly three airplanes will support 12 flights a year, which is what we were approaching when we had the accident.




Two of those airplanes now have over 5,000 hours on them, and the predicted fatigue life of some of the components, like basic wing structure and things like that, were under that number, 4,800. So we have reached a point where we are having to be very careful on our inspection programs and we are reaching the point where we can expect to start having failures in major structure or cracks. The airplane is failsafe, let me point that out. You're not going to have a catastrophic failure, but when you do detect the crack or whatever indication of a failure you see, of a fatigue life problem, you've got to fix it, and if it is a major structure, you are going to be down for a while.

So one of the concerns we have had in the office is we see ourselves reaching a point where we may not be able to support the crew training, and we have in the mill right now a push to get a fourth STA to carry us through. Our third STA doesn't have that much time on it, but we need another airplane. Otherwise, I am afraid that we won't be able to support the flight rate.




VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Is that fatigue life at that level because you are highly loading the airplane during practice approaches?


VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: So it wouldn't be comparable with the normal G-II?

MR. HARTSFIELD: No. Every approach we cycle the gear. Well, you know, we've probably got more gear cycles in those airplanes than any G-II that's flying.

MR. ABBEY: It's about a factor of four.

MR. HARTSFIELD: The other training item that is causing us a little concern now that I want to mention and I told you earlier I would is the SMS-our shuttle mission simulator.

What we have is two training simulators. One of them is a fixed based-in other words, it doesn't move. A full cockpit mock-up; the other one is a moving base and I think you've been to Houston and looked at that and those have an aft station in that part of the cockpit that doesn't move attached to it.

Those two bases are essential to our training, and it's a very complex machine. And it has a heck of a lot of fidelity that all of the crews brag about.

At the time of the accident we were getting a hundred and 48 hours a week on the shuttle mission




simulators; that is total for the two bases, out of a possible, of course, 24 hours a day, seven days a week out of a possible 336 hours. We were planning to ramp up to about 160 hours a week. Our best estimate is that the two bases at best could only support about a 180 hours a week.

There is an awful lot of time that can't go directly into training for reconfigurations for new training loads and just the maintenance on the simulator itself.

[1460] And so we're talking about optimally there may be somewhere between 50 and 55 percent utilization rate on those bases. That is what has been predicted for them.

Well, 180 hours a week will support somewhere around 12 or 14 flights a year, based on the templates we have. In other words, at the time that we had the accident, we were already facing up to-we were getting them into a crunch on crew training. And eventually that leads into worries.

Now we complicate. that a little bit, and that's obsolescence. It's a bad word, but it's true. We've got 1970 technology in both mission control and in the shuttle mission simulators and we have budget-line items to start upgrading these facilities. As an example, the




computers that are being used in the mission simulator are no longer being made. And the vendor says he won't make parts for them in three more years.

So we know we are going to have to remachine the simulators. And we have already got that going. But in addition to this, we have problems with the simulators, known deficiencies. We have a pretty lousy visual system; we know that and we're trying to get something on line to improve it.

We have a large number of the models in the simulator that are not what they ought to be. As an example, the main engine model-in other words, the interaction between the crew and the simulation of the shuttle main engines is so bad that in some cases we get negative training, and it is one of our high priority items to fix.

And we have now finally turned on some efforts to get some of these problems fixed. The word we had was that with the flights rate as it was, and the limitation of the simulator and the growing list of problems, of which there is something close to 600 of them, and a lot of these are little nits, but they've documented over 600 discrepancies against the simulator and it got us worried about maintaining our training.

And what we really needed, I think, is another




at least one more SMS base in order to support a flight rate of a dozen or more and do it comfortably.

Some other things that we needed and we are stepping out on this now is a guidance and navigation trainer. Right now if we want to teach a pilot, a commander flight techniques or teach him how to do the nav, we have to tie up the whole base to do that, and we shouldn't do that. We should have a part-task trainer. And we've been trying to get one of those for a long time. It looks like right now that we may very well be able to do that. We have got the thing rolling.

And the only reason I bring this up is to show you that we have concerns and we still do; but there is still a lot of work to do to make the training side of the house with our airplanes and our mission simulators match up to the flight schedule.

MR. WEITZ: If I might add, Henry, the inadequacies in the SMS affect the level of the training of the flight control teams also in that they get significant amounts of training while they're running integrated simulations with the flight crew in the simulator.

MR. ABBEY: I think those covered at least all of the major specific concerns we were going to talk about. I don't know whether there were any other




questions or not that you might want to ask us.

[1461] MR. ACHESON: I have a question on internal agency safety, particularly the way the safety function is organized in the agency.

I would be interested in the reactions of any of you gentlemen to the question whether the internal safety function is set up in a way that you think makes the optimum contribution to flight safety. And if not, why not, and in what way you would like to see it changed.

MR. ABBEY: Well, that was really the next topic that we were going to touch on, and we can get into that now.

MR. ACHESON: Very good.

MR. ABBEY: Both John and I were very much involved in the activities after the Apollo fire in 1967.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Would you move your microphone a little closer.

MR. ABBEY: Both John and I were very much involved in the activities following the Apollo fire in 1967 and at that point there was considerable strengthening of the reliability and quality assurance and the safety organization within NASA. We established a safety office within the office of space flight. We also had an independent reliability and quality




assurance and safety organization at each of the centers reporting to the directors.

And Dr. Gilruth and George Lowe, who was the Apollo spacecraft program manager, were very insistent upon having that be an independent function that didn't get into the programmatic considerations.

We had, at that point in time, a lot of flight anomalies from Apollo 7 to Apollo 11. We had a period probably of about six weeks in between flights where we had to resolve all the flight anomalies.

George Lowe, I think more than any individual I've ever met, put a lot of emphasis on identifying all of those anomalies, right up to the top level up through NASA headquarters, and they were reported and acted upon and satisfactorily resolved,

Even with that six-week time period, in between seven and eleven, I think that only happened because of a lot of painstaking attention to detail and I think dedication to get the job done well by all levels within the Apollo program.

I think that same attitude exists within the shuttle program. I think we were successful on the flights before 51-L, to a large degree, by that same kind of attitude.

But I think as we tend to attempt to fly more




frequently, I think we probably need to look at a better check and balance of the system and John and I have talked quite a bit and we talked to other people about looking at establishing a more independent safety organization and activity within NASA and within the center.

We have, I think, a good system within our aviation program. We have an aviation safety officer that worries about our aircraft operations. John has an aviation safety officer within the astronaut office. They always aren't the most popular individuals because, I think, they don't always tell us what we would like to hear.

For example, we have got eight of our airplanes grounded now. But I think that is the kind of attitude and the kind of feeling you have to have in that kind of a program, and I think it is important to have.

And John, I think, could probably better express than I some thoughts in that regard.

MR. YOUNG: This is really the key to the reason that I'm glad to be here today because I have this feeling that the very biggest problem that must be solved before the space shuttle flies again is that one of communications. And that is communications with


[1462] 2514


respect to the early identification and proper appreciation of program-wide safety issues.

That NASA internal working paper on space shuttle program flight safety, the one that I wrote that was released-that, for the record, I didn't really release-covered several concerns that are safety issues and each of those concerns is being dealt with right now and change control boards and other reviews.

And prior to the accident, many of these safety issues were being worked and they were in the system. But they were not being worked and I was told mainly because we didn't have the money to deal with them.

Now that is a worrisome condition to me, and it needs to be corrected and it ought to be worrisome to everybody else. But by itself, it is kind of a communications problem because I didn't know some of those were in the system.

The space shuttle, after 24 missions, is exactly what we should expect from the first of its kind. It has certain risk associated with its normal operation, if you can call what it does normal. And it is a vehicle that we're all working very hard to make operational. And I think once you get it on orbit and start doing what people are supposed to do in space, it




really is what you can call an operational system.

And I wonder, though, sometimes why if the space shuttle is inherently risky; why we should accept additional avoidable risks in order to meet launch schedules and we do that sometime, or to reduce operating costs, and that has been proposed. Or to fly unsafe payloads. And I think sometimes that happens.

The problem is that we've got right now and I think everybody in the astronaut office appreciates it; we just can't afford to have another accident. We cannot.

But I maintain if we are very, very careful, we can still have an outstanding space shuttle program just like we did in 1985, and that doesn't mean that the program has to accept avoidable risks.

And one of the problems we have is to get a communications link and properly define those risks.

Furthermore, we need a fool-proof way to surface to the top and correct safety issues early so that we can prevent another accident.

There is a great bunch of engineering people at NASA, and I guarantee beyond any reasonable doubt that all the working troops right this minute know exactly what all the space shuttle issues are right this minute.




But what we have to worry about is five years from now, when "Joe Engineer" comes in to his boss and he says, "Hey, how about this data here that shows the framus keeps breaking and it's going to blow the side off the orbiter."

And somebody says-and his boss says, "That hasn't failed in 60 flights; get out of my office."

And so here's something that's bad that could happen; a single point that this guy has discovered by desk work or by qualification or by test and it doesn't get through the system because this boss has got a million things on his mind. He's worried about something else; he doesn't have the money to do anything about it and so forth and so forth, and it shouldn't happen.

[1463] And the way I think you can prevent that one way-and I sure hope it isn't the only way would be to get safety-wide and agency-wide flight safety organization, similar to those of many airplane programs.

If such a program were developed, the guidelines for that program might be the safety people in the organization would be independent of the cost and schedule concerns of their branches or divisions or directorates or centers.

And don't misunderstand me: The branch, the




division, the directors, center bosses would still be responsible for safety and their responsibility should be documented clearly for everybody to see. But the grass roots and pervasive safety people report to their organization heads and still pass the word on safety issues that are going on right there up the line through the independent safety organization.

Unless we take very positive steps to open safety communications and to identify and fix early-on safety problems, we are asking for another shuttle accident.

These flight safety people would be continuously involved in design, manufacture, qualification test and turn-around test and checkout and inspection. Flight safety people could have continuous involvement in launch mission entry and landing operations. What they would do would be to identify and report-in real time, if necessary-space shuttle program flight safety problems to their bosses-their boss in that division, and also up their independent chain of command in their safety organization.

And the sole purpose of this group of people would be like any other flight safety group to prevent program accidents.

This is offered only as a constructive




suggestion. If there is some other way to keep the lines of communication open and guarantee that they stay open for as long as we run this program-if there is a better and more foolproof way to do it, then we ought to do that.

And, needless to say, I go along with Crip: Without responsible people-the right kind of people, who are independent and safety conscious and oriented-such organization will be useless to NASA and wouldn't do anybody any good.

But it is requested that some reasonable system be added to checks and balances and added to the launch rate and cost reduction process because it is really important to being successful in this program. And I think we can be successful.

We proved it up to a point, and we want to continue to prove it; we just have to be very careful and we have to keep those lines of communications open. NASA doesn't do business without everybody knowing what everybody else is doing. You can't keep a secret anywhere in NASA; we never have been able to do it.

And so let's not start now. But let's make sure we don't do that anymore.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Captain Young, you know the Commission has been considering this suggestion for some




time now, and I think most of us agree with you. It would be helpful to us if each of you would give it a little thought to the desirability of that kind of safety-independent safety panel, and with specific suggestions about how it should be set up and how many people should be involved and so forth, because if that does turn out to be a major recommendation of this Commission, I [1464] think it will carry a lot of weight. And this is the time to do it between now and the time we make our report.

And so any suggestions that you have along those lines, we would appreciate them.

MR. WEITZ: I don't have any specific suggestion, Mr. Chairman, because the more we look into all of the aspects of what it takes to make flying the shuttle safe, it's a very complex operation. It starts, you have to control design-design changes, maintenance, turn-around inspection-the whole aspect of it.

Basically what we feel intuitive or what I feel intuitively is that what we need is some system very similar to what is used in aviation and throughout the Armed Services, and I'm confident in the airline world in which you need a functional safety organization in place, which must have the support and the very obvious




and visible support of command at every level within the organization.

That starts with the director of NASA right on down, in which those folks must be heeded and certainly their concerns paid attention to, regardless of, as John said, an impact on schedule and cost.

MR. ACHESON: May I ask a question, going to Captain Young's recent statement?

I assume that independent safety functions of the kind you described would have to work really at the project level; otherwise, they wouldn't be likely to see the work in enough detail, and yet they couldn't-I don't suppose you would want to have their promotions and their salary reviews dependent on the project people with whom they work.

Would you comment on that?

MR. YOUNG: I view this as just the way you would do it in, I hate to say, a military program; but safety people in military programs are still working for the commanding officer of that outfit and they get promoted the same way everybody else does.

I'm not sure how much independence that safety person would have to have. My safety officer is an astronaut and he's going to fly spacecraft. I don't see why a safety person in a division who is a knowledgeable




person at the same working levels couldn't have knowledge of the safety issues that is going on in his division and be reasonably successful. And one of these days he could be the division chief.

I don't see anything wrong with that. And just because he reports these things off to the side, wouldn't necessarily keep him from going right up the same chain. And he could end up being the administrator of NASA. And I see nothing that. would be necessary to stop that

I think one of the things those kinds of people could do for the program properly oriented, they could educate everybody else in the division of the importance of safety; there may be people sitting down there with this problem that is ongoing that they're working that they don't really know whether it is a safety problem or not and once attuned to this kind of thing, they would be more likely to report it.

I think it is just as important to have those kind of people throughout the agency to keep the lines of communications open. I don't think you would get points taken off for keeping open your communication lines in NASA because that is the way we work. And we just want to make sure that those lines of communication never get closed again for whatever reason.




If there is a better way to do it, I would sure think that would be a good thing to do-a better, faster, a quicker way to do it; we ought to do that. I wish I knew what it was.

[1465] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Just before you leave, Captain Young, I just want to, for the record, indicate as I understand none of the memos that you've talked about were released to the press by you it happened some other way, right?

MR. YOUNG: I believe that is the case, yes, sir. I don't give out internal working papers because-shoot, you ought to see those other people's internal working papers.


MR. YOUNG: Because that is just what they are: They are structured to open up some ideas and avenues of thought to pursue to see if you're right or you're wrong. And you get your facts straight and then you work with it.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: So those memos you wrote were part of your job?

MR. YOUNG: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And that's the type of thing you're supposed to do is to point out problems and hope that they are corrected; is that right?




MR. YOUNG: I think they are part of my job, yes, sir. I feel responsible for a lot of things in this area. I feel very responsible to these people that fly this machinery, and I sure want that to be successful. And if there is something that is more risky than it needs to be, I think it is really important to get that up the chain and let people at least look at it.

There may be good reasons for not doing everything; of course, I never think of that, but other people might. But I sure think it is important to get the word around.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And I gather you're very satisfied with the way Admiral Truly is proceeding with improving the program and taking into account some of the concerns you've expressed in the past?

MR. YOUNG: Yes, sir. I think that the word that he put out in his memorandum is really outstanding and everybody in the astronaut office believes that is a safe way to go, considering the problem that we just encountered. And it will help us get back on the track and the program will be much stronger and much better, if we do those things.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Well, thank you, gentlemen, very much. We appreciate this and I think it's been




very constructive and helpful. Thank you.

DR. KEEL: Admiral Truly, Mr. Aldrich, and Mr. Charlesworth, please.

(Witnesses sworn.)


[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]
1466] [Ref. 4/3-1] Johnson Space Center Organization Chart. [Ref. 4/3-2 1 of 3] Flight Crew Operations Directorate Chart.

[1467] [Ref. 4/3-2 2 of 3] Astronaut Management Positions. [Ref. 4/3-2 3 of 3] Astronaut Management Positions (continued).

[1468] [Ref. 4/3-3] What do Astronauts do?

[1469] [Ref. 4/3-4] Current Astronaut Activity.

[1470] [Ref. 4/3-5] Current Astronaut Activity (continued). [Ref. 4/3-6] Current Astronaut Activity (continued).

[1471] [Ref. 4/3-7] Reviews, Panels, Boards, Working Groups, and Team Participation.

[1472] [Ref. 4/3-8 1 of 2] Reviews, Panels, Boards, Working Groups, and Team Participation (?continued).

[1473] [Ref. 4/3-8 2 of 2] Reviews, Panels, Boards, Working Groups, and Team Participation (?continued).

[1474] [Ref. 4/3-9] Flight Readiness Review.

[1475] [Ref. 4/3-10] Launch Minus One Day Review.

[1476] [Ref. 4/3-11] Final Launch Count.

[1477] [Ref. 4/3-12] Mission Management Team Meetings.

[1478] [Ref. 4/3-13] Entry Preparation.

[1479] [Ref. 4/3-14] Unresolved Issues or What Must Be Done To Achieve a Viable STS Program. H. Hartsfield, April 2, 1986. [Ref. 4/3-15] Unresolved Issues or What Must Be Done To Achieve a Viable STS Program (continued).

[1480] [Ref. 4/3-16] Unresolved Issues or What Must Be Done To Achieve a Viable STS Program: Revalidate the Design. [Ref. 4/3-17] Unresolved Issues or What Must Be Done To Achieve a Viable STS Program: Review High Criticality Items.

[1481] [Ref. 4/3-18] Unresolved Issues or What Must Be Done To Achieve a Viable STS Program: Review Maintenance. [Ref. 4/3-19] Unresolved Issues or What Must Be Done To Achieve a Viable STS Program: Review Operations.

[1482] [Ref. 4/3-20] Unresolved Issues or What Must Be Done To Achieve a Viable STS Program: Review Operations (continued).

[1483] [Ref. 4/3-21] Unresolved Issues or What Must Be Done To Achieve a Viable STS Program: Establish Flight Rate.

[1484] [Ref. 4/3-22] Unresolved Issues or What Must Be Done To Achieve a Viable STS Program: Summary. [Ref. 4/3-23] Unresolved Issues or What Must Be Done To Achieve a Viable STS Program: Final Thoughts.




CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Admiral Truly, will you identify yourself, and for the record explain what your present duties are. We've had Mr. Aldrich, and so you might all do that briefly.

ADMIRAL TRULY: Yes, sir. I'm Richard Truly, and I'm associate administrator for space flight at NASA Headquarters.

My background is that I am a Georgia Tech graduate with a bachelors degree in aeronautical engineering; I was commissioned in the Navy from Georgia Tech and am still in the Navy; I was selected first in the astronaut program for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory in 1965; when that program was canceled in 1969, 1 went to NASA.

My experience at NASA was that I was on the support crew for the three Skylab missions; also for the




Apollo Soyuz mission.

I flew with Joe Henry Engle on the Enterprise on the approach and landing test in 1977. 1 was a back-up crewman on STS-1, backing up Bob Crippen. I flew again with Joe Engle on the STS-II, commanded STS-VIII.

Immediately after that flight, I was asked by the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Watkins, if I would consider returning to the Navy to be the first commander of the Naval Space Command about two and a half years ago, which I did.

After the accident-a few weeks after the accident, I was again asked if I would consider coming back again under these unfortunate circumstances to this job, and here I am.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Charlesworth?

MR. CHARLESWORTH: My name is Cliff Charlesworth. I joined NASA in 1962. 1 started out in the flight control world, the ground flight control world, working as a flight controller during the Mercury, the end of Mercury and the Gemini program.

During the second half of the Gemini program, I was appointed a flight director and I did that job up through Apollo 12. From that point on I moved into program office work for a number of years, both in the world of




applications and in the world of-some of the early shuttle work on the payload part of the business.

I spent a tour as the deputy director of the center, and now I am currently director of space operations.

[1486] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Aldrich, I don't see any sense in going through your background. You can say anything you want to, but we have had the advantage of having you here before. And so I think we are quite familiar with the work you do.

How did you want to proceed, Admiral? Did you want to start or Mr. Aldrich?

ADMIRAL TRULY: It is your call, sir. This has been an interesting day for me. I might with your permission, I might make a couple of remarks and then proceed anyway you would care to go. I found it interesting today to listen to this morning's testimony because I feel like, in a sense, that I can bridge the gap from the points of view that you have heard in the testimony of the guys in the crew office and yet also see the same problems with the responsibility of having to make the decisions required, along with particularly with, Arnie, to solve those that we must and those that we can within the constraints that we have.

As you have seen this morning, the astronaut




office is filled with a number of individuals with individual views and that has not changed from the way I remember it.

I think you have also seen that they are extremely supportive of the program that they are in and the people that are solving that problem and following the accident. They obviously and necessarily and quite appropriately are very concerned that we identify and fix those problems that have turned up.

Flight safety must always be balanced, in any real program between the real programmatic problems of cost and schedule and performance. Nothing is different in this situation than it is in airplane safety or airplane programs; nor was it different in Mercury or Gemini or Apollo or Skylab or Apollo Soyuz and now the shuttle.

I would, however, point out that the strategy that I issued of-I forget when; a week or so ago-which is a strategy to try to lead us back into operation of the space shuttle was not based on the inputs of just the astronauts, although I did discuss it with many of them. But I also discussed it in great detail with a lot of other people.

And it is a strategy; it is not, as we would say in the Navy, rudder orders. It does leave the




response-the primary responsibility and accountability for us getting back to flying to the proper place in the organization, which is led by Arnie at our Level II for most of the actions that I outlined.


You heard this morning suggestions that we undoubtedly do not have the funds available to correct each and every one; and I think that is appropriate. As a matter of fact, there are some that I agree with more than others, but we do intend to take on each and every one of those suggestions and those concerns. And I think they are extremely important.

Interestingly enough-and I jot it down as George and John and the other crewmen talked this morning, each of the specific suggestions that they made-and I did not hear a single one that was new to me-these are concerns that in the shuttle program up to now have been argued, and I think that they must be now re-looked at on the basis of our experience, and that is what I intend to make sure that we do. And I know that I have their support.

But it is not only their support that we have. Everybody in NASA could not be more attuned to starting from today and getting back to safe, sustainable flight.




As usual, I'm afraid I may have run on too long, but those were the only comments that I had on the basis of this morning, sir.

[1487] CHAIRMAN ROGERS: I think all of the Commission appreciated very much the strategy you have worked out. We appreciated the fact that you consulted with us ahead of time and we had a chance to make comments although I must say that we accepted readily the suggestions you made and we think that what you're doing is exactly right.

It is particularly important, I think, for the Commission because it would have been a mistake if people had come to the conclusion for 120 days because that is our mandate that we were going to report it after 120 days and NASA was going to stop everything for 120 days and do nothing but to look at the cause of the accident.

And I think the fact that you have taken the lead with the support of NASA generally to make corrections already, you are moving ahead as quickly as you can to correct some of these things that are quite apparent as a result of this investigation.

And so we compliment you for that. And we also appreciate the fact that our staff has been working very diligently and has had full cooperation from you and your people and the Subcommittees of this Commission that




have been working with you and your people, I think, have coordinated very well, and we appreciate that, too.

Mr. Aldrich, did you want to make some comments about the testimony this morning and what Admiral Truly has said?

MR. ALDRICH: I found the testimony this morning to be interesting, but also very familiar. And this space shuttle system is, as was pointed out, the most complicated, technically sophisticated machine and vehicle in the world today. And when it was built, it required some very significant technology application and developments and breakthroughs-specifically the space shuttle main engines and the characteristics they run with.

The fly-by-wire fault-tolerant software and avionics system that controls the vehicle, the thermal protection system that goes over a standard aircraft skin and stringer system to allow it to fly the unique environments of the shuttle and the very configuration that it is in for flying the ascent flight and the entry flight regime and the demanding characteristics of those regimes make it an extremely technologically impressive technological development.

And sitting here this morning were two men who probably did what I think is one of the most technically




demanding and courageous things in the history of man's space flight in that they piloted the space shuttle system for the first time.

And you can't but be impressed with these men. And the discussions here this morning were about their concerns. And in the jobs I've had before the shuttle program and in the shuttle program, I've spent many hours working technical concerns and issues and understanding them and attempting them-either to work them or to bring them forward.

And it was a very familiar discussion. And as Admiral Truly pointed out, the issues discussed this morning, are ones that I am familiar with and that we have dealt with previously and we certainly had stirred up a large amount of activity to be certain that they all are reheard and re-thought and re-assessed again.

And I have started on an activity to do that, prior to the time that Admiral Truly put his plan in place for the strategy for the next few months and year.

In mid-February I asked each of the projects and division level organizations that support the program to come forward with those critical areas that I knew had been of concern to them [1488] in the past or that might be potential for concern and change in the future because, again, I agree with the earlier discussion that




a very high percentage of areas where we have potential for critical risk or where judgments have been made that ought to be reassessed are well known to the members of the shuttle team across the program.

And I felt it was important to bring this information forward and to start on it both to get an early lead on understanding it for corrective actions that we would want to make in parallel with the fixes that might be required related to the 51-L tragedy and also to understand upfront the budget structure that we may be dealing with in terms of some of the things we will now say we feel we want to do or we must do.

So I initiated that activity; it is very consistent with several of the items in the directive that Admiral Truly passed down from myself and my office also to integrate and to coordinate and bring forward and that is well underway. I have already had two meetings of detailed technical review on systems and operational issues of that kind. I have five more scheduled within the next 10 days. And we are proceeding as well as we can but in an orderly way to understand all aspects of each issue and treat it uniquely and understand how we want to deal with it, as we move forward.

DR. COVERT: Mr. Aldrich, would you clarify




for me the role of-I think it is called the Aerospace Safety Board in terms of how they interact with the safety needs of your program.

MR. ALDRICH: The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel is a panel that was created early in the man-space program before the shuttle, but I can't recall exactly at what point. It is a panel that has been formed, I believe, by the NASA administrator and reports to the NASA administrator, and it is a standing panel of external experts to the agency, primarily in the field of aerospace.

And they have each year they prepare an annual agenda of areas of interest or perhaps critical concern that they choose to review, and that takes them across the breadth of the program in the same manner the Presidential Commission has been operating in the last few weeks and months, and they key on both the known issues they're aware of in the program that they want to access and provide independent recommendations on. And as they do this work, they often uncover other things that are going on and will also highlight them. And their prime emphasis in the program is seeking safety concerns and safety issues and providing high-level recommendations on the thrust NASA ought to take in that regard.




They are presented in an annual report, but concerns that they develop as they go are also relayed to us, and we will certainly give them immediate consideration.

DR. COVERT: Would you feel, in terms of the discussions we have had earlier today, that that might be, a suitable steering committee for an independent safety review organization within the agency or do you think that there is a need for separation between two such organizations?

MR. ALDRICH: Well, I'm not probably broad enough in my knowledge to recommend to you what I think an optimum safety organization structure should be for the program. I firmly agree with the recommendations you've heard here today that the system and structure in place in the [1489] shuttle program today needs to be strengthened significantly and how it would be done and exactly the scope and the involvement I haven't collected my thoughts on.

I think the nature of the gentleman in the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel and the opportunity they have to participate while it is broad in its coverage, it is not the day-to-day kind of augmentation I think is important in terms of the kind of business we have discussed a little bit earlier.




DR. COVERT: Thank you.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Perhaps by way of background, could you clarify for the Commission how the program office and the operations directorate divide their respective responsibilities and what the difference is between those and how you coordinate your activities?

MR. ALDRICH: Well, I can talk a lot about that. I want to be sure that I talk about it in a way that relates directly to your intent.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: With regard to what responsibilities fall into the program office and what falls under the directorate of operations generally and then see how you coordinate those activities and respond to concerns from either side?

MR. CHARLESWORTH: Arnie, why don't you let me try to start on that.

MR. ALDRICH: All right.

MR. CHARLESWORTH: In my job as Director of Space Operations, I am responsible to the center director, as Mr. Abbey pointed out this morning. I have three major elements. You heard from one of them this morning. I have another major element, which the best way to describe is the ground control function.

These people do the ground flight




controllers' job; they do the-maintain all of our facilities, like the control center, the simulator that Mr. Hartsfield talked about. They do the training of the astronauts themselves. It is a very large, complex organization under Mr. Gene Kranz.

Then I have a third group, which is principally development that develop new facilities or upgrade facilities. They do things like the software development and that sort of thing.

So it is the three major-line institutional organizations which I oversee. We report-I report to the center director. I also, in effect, report to Mr. Aldrich because I take his programmatic direction and go implement it. For example, if a manifest is baselined-, we're going to fly flight X and we're going to put these payloads on it, that comes out of the program office.

But my organization, from our point of view, then go implement that. We go do the flight design, we go do whatever is required in our area of responsibility to fly the mission.

So, in effect, I work for the program office. But I maintain the institutional organization to effect that work.

Now as far as coordination, I think one of the




questions that I saw and Mr. Abbey touched on it-how do I handle issues that are brought to me? And they come to me in a variety of ways.

In my weekly staff meeting, for example, which I hold with Mr. Abbey and Mr. Kranz and Mr. Berry-my three directorates-issues are brought to me; they may be brought to me on an ad hoc basis; they may be brought to me outside of Mr. Abbey.

For example, recently I had a meeting with the Centaur Commanders over some issues that they wanted to talk about. I address these in a number of ways. Normally when they come to [1490] me, they have already been integrated between the Gene Kranz ground control systems people and the flight crew people.

They work together and come to me with an integrated suggestion. If I agree with it, which usually I do, I will take it to Mr. Aldrich. Depending on the urgency, I will take it right away or, if necessary, I will schedule a meeting to discuss it with him.

If necessary, I certainly feel free, if I don't feel like we're satisfied from the program office, I will go to the center director, if that's required. I can't think of an occasion we've had to do that other than informational. But that is the process we follow.




Do you want to add to that, Arnie?

DR. FEYNMAN: You said you haven't collected your thoughts yet on what kind of a safety organization would be a good one. But have you collected your thoughts yet on what you think is the cause-I wouldn't call it of the accident but the lack of communication which we have seen and which everybody is worried about from one level to another?

Do you understand why? And, therefore, that helps of course in the first step in trying to figure out what to do.

MR. ALDRICH: Well, there were two specific breakdowns at least, in my impression, about that situation: One is the situation that occurred the night before the launch and leading up to the launch where there was a significant review that has been characterized in a number of ways before the Commission and the Commission's Subpanels and the fact that that was not passed forward.

And I can only conclude what has been reported, and that is that the people responsible for that work in the solid rocket booster project at Marshall believed that the concern was not of a significance that would be required to be brought




forward because clearly the program requirements specify that critical problems should be brought forward to Level II and not only to Level II but through myself to Level 1.

The second breakdown in communications, however, and one that I personally am concerned about is the situation of the variety of reviews that were conducted last summer between the NASA Headquarters Organization and the Marshall Organization on the same technical area and the fact that that was not brought through my office in either direction-that is, it was not worked through by the NASA Headquarters Organization nor when the Marshall Organization brought these concerns to be reported were we involved.

And I believe that is a critical breakdown in process and I think it is also against the documented. reporting channels that the program is supposed to operate to.

Now, it in fact did occur in that manner. In fact, there is a third area of concern to me in the way the program has operated. There is yet one other way that could have come to me, given a different program structure. I'm sure you've had it reported to you as it has been reported to me that in August I think or at least at some time late in the summer or early fall the




Marshall SRB project went forward to procure some additional solid rocket motor casings to be machined to new configurations for testing of the joints.

Now it turns out that the budget for that kind of work does not come through my Level II office. It is worked directly between the Marshal Center and NASA Headquarters and there again had I been responsible for the budget for that sort of work, it would have to come through me, and it would have been clear that something was going on here that I ought to know about.

[1491] And so there are three areas of breakdown, and I haven't exactly answered your question. But I have explained it in the way that I best know it and-well, I can say a fourth thing.

There was some discussion earlier about the amount of material that was or was not reported on O-ring erosion in the FRRs and I researched the FRR back reports and also the flight anomaly reports that were forwarded to my center-to my office-by the SRB project and as was indicated, there is a treatment of the solid rocket motor O-ring erosion, I believe, for the STS 41C FRR, which quantifies it and indicates some limited amount of concern.

The next time that is mentioned, I believe is in the STS 51-E, FRR in January 1985 or early in




February, and that indicates, again, a reference to it but refers back to the 41-C as the only technical data.

And then from there forward the comment on O-ring erosion only is that there was another instance and it is not of concern.

Clearly the amount of reporting in the FRR is of concern to me, but in parallel with that, each of the flight anomalies in the STS program are required to be logged and reviewed by each of the projects and then submitted through the Level II system for formal close-out.

And in looking back and reviewing the anomaly close-outs that were submitted to Level II from the SRB project, you find that O-ring erosion was not considered to be an anomaly and, therefore, it was not logged and, therefore, there are not anomaly reports that progress from one flight to the other.

Yet, that is another way that that information could have flagged the system, and the system is set up to use that technique for flagging.

But if the erosion is classified as not an anomaly, it then is in some other category and the system did not force it in that direction. None of those are very focused answers, but they are all factors.




DR. FEYNMAN: Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: There is one other consideration that should be mentioned in the flight readiness review on 51-D, where it refers to evidence of hot gas passing the primary O-ring.

The resolution says acceptable risk because of limited exposure and redundancy. And yet, under the critical items list, it was decided there was no redundancy. And it seems to me that the Marshall people seem to proceed on the basis that they had a redundancy when the system had determined there was no redundancy.

Am I correct on that?

MR. ALDRICH: Your understanding of that information and mine come from the same postevent review and that is the way I understand it, yes.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And one other, I guess, while we're on the subject. And that is the uncertainty about the position that Rockwell took as to the weather conditions.

MR. ALDRICH: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And that seems to me to be you understood it and I would say based on the testimony, understandably so, that there was expressed a minor concern but not a no-go vote, whereas they in their testimony indicated that they were recommending against




the launch or at least they thought they were.

[1492] That certainly is a flaw in the system that can be corrected easily and that is if you are going to count on the contractors opinion, they should vote either go or no-go and it should be clear how they voted so there is no ambiguity about it later on.

MR. ALDRICH: It is clear to me, sir, after the fact, that that was not crisp enough dealing with that discussion, I can assure you that aspect of my forward work and the projects define procedures which will take that into full account and correct it.


VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: I would like to have you comment, if you will, on a few of the comments that we have heard in earlier testimony today. We heard today and we've heard from other sources on other occasions of the matter of cannibalization in spares and the potential problem that that might create in the future, had the accident not occurred.

Would you just comment on that consideration as you saw it from the program office point of view?

MR. ALDRICH: Yes, I can comment on that fairly assertively because prior to my current assignment as the NSTS program manager this past summer for the prior three years I was manager of the orbiter project at JSC and




dealt directly with issues with the orbiter and, in particular, that one.


And the situation on the spare parts for the orbiter project or program is that there had been fund contentions in the program for a number of years, at least starting in the mid-seventies and running through into the early to mid-eighties. And with that fund contention over a number of years toward the end of the 1970s and early in the eighties, intentional decisions were made to defer the heavy build-up of spare parts procurements in the program so that the funds could be devoted to other more pressing activities in the program.

And I can't sit here and recall what they were; but it was a regular occurrence for several annual budget cycles. And once the flight rate really began to rise and it was really clear that spare parts were going to be a problem, significant attention was placed on that problem by all levels of NASA and efforts had been made to catch up. But it has been a catch-up problem and it has put us in a problem of several years that we're right in the middle of now when our parts availability is well behind the flight need and through cannibalization the flight rate has been and can be maintained.




But that was strictly a funding priorities issue that was created quite some time ago and that we are still dealing with.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Is the cannibalization problem a concern about the future of flight safety, as far as the three orbiters are concerned now?

MR. ALDRICH: Well, there certainly was a good point made this morning about the more you work on a vehicle and climb around in it, the more likely you are to do something that you inadvertently create and don't find.

On the other hand, some parts are readily interchangeable between vehicles. And so it is probably a mixed kind of an issue with respect to safety. And the plans are in place in the program to buy the parts we need. It is just strung out over a number of years now, probably through the late 1980s before the total parts inventory for the whole orbiter system would be in place. That is not an insignificant cost. The cost of a full inventory of spare parts for a four orbiter fleet is roughly the cost of another orbiter. So it is a significant workload in manpower and funding issue to deal with.

And that is a thing that I have been describing that has been difficult for the program to


[1493] 2546


maintain current with some of the other progress.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: We have been told by some that in fact the 1986 launch schedule would have been impossible because of spare parts shortages and I wonder if you share that conviction or whether you believe that cannibalization and other techniques might have been able to keep you going.

MR. ALDRICH: I think that unless we ran into one or two unique areas where the system had really trapped itself with work around strategies that the parts program would have been consistent with a flight rate, given a robust willingness for cannibalization.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Any other questions?

MR. ACHESON: Yes. I have a question relating to the flight readiness procedure in confirmation of remarks you made earlier.

I was struck by the fact that the certification of flight readiness of 51-L by the contractors including Thiokol and the forward certification by Level III to Level II did not make any mention of the previous program of testing the heightened concerns of both the Marshall staff and the Thiokol staff of the gas seal and the joint.

My question is: had that been appreciated by




Level III to be a serious problem? Is that the sort of thing you would have expected to find in those certification documents?

MR. ALDRICH: Well, I'm not sure I've had the opportunity to review the whole certification history of the solid rocket booster, particularly the field joints through the Marshall Center and through them to their contractor.

I would have expected such a review as it may have or may well do to show that they were fully certified. And that was the basis that we were approving 51-L launch and any other launch on with that understanding across the board for the flight systems.

MR. ACHESON: But I guess my specific question is: had Level III appreciated the seriousness of the problem, would you not have had a notation to that effect to have appeared in the flight readiness document reporting which would have served as the flag to you that the system called for? And that is what I'm reaching for.

MR. ALDRICH: I really would have expected that if the Level III organization had realized that they had a critical problem there that they would have immediately called in and have led to special meetings and special activities and they would have been taken right out of the sequence for STS-51-L and would




have been a major program activity.

And that appears what might have been underway last summer. But if it was, it did not follow through in any manner that caused the whole program to get involved.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Again, following the earlier testimony today, it was the view of the earlier witnesses that the brake programs were in work and they may or may not be technology limited but resource limited and I wanted to add the view of the program office on the brakes.

MR. ALDRICH: I'm really glad you asked me about brakes because that is a subject that has had a lot of attention earlier and deserves it and has also had a lot of effort and I would like to try to give you a feel for the effort that has gone along in parallel with the frustration of a problem we have had a very difficult time solving.

[1494] That problem is probably most frustrated by a comment made earlier that we only get one landing per flight and there is no way to have a real flight break test program; so whatever fix you make, you have to fly on the next shuttle mission and then you have to land it and see how well you did.

And sometimes you don't get any answer and




sometimes you get a negative answer. But you have to repeat the process. We started having brake problems initially in the program. During OFT there were minor problems with some of the components in the brake. OFT was the first four flights. Columbia flew again on the fifth flight.

On the first four flights there were only minor wear and chipping problems on some of the internal parts; but on STS V we had a major failure of the brakes and a heavy landing. And from that point forward, we have had some degree of problem on the brakes on almost every landing.

And the problems have been of two kinds. They are the kind that indicate the system is energy-limited and when you put high energy into the brakes and stop, you do damage to the stators in the system and can run the risk of a wheel lock-up. And I would like to come back to that.

We have had that happen on two occasions; we have had the stator damage and heavy landing loads on STS-V and on STS-IX and we also had a fairly high energy landing, as Captain Young pointed out on STS-61-C and did some stator damage.

And so you can really say we have had three landings with stator damage, and those are of concern




for damage to the vehicle and for wheel lock-up. On almost all the other flights we've had the kind of damage that is post-flight rework-cracking of carbon pads, chipping, clips bending, all of which appear to have relation to a vibration or an oscillatory condition in the brakes when you apply them or when you use them, which have made everyone very nervous about the brakes, but which have not directly led to a critical problem on the flights where those have occurred. You just have to repair the brakes.

Since the early time in the program, the late OFT time period, we have had a series of repairs and corrections that have been attempted to find the cause of the brake problems and find solutions, and we have been frustrated by this limited amount of time to test them and no really excellent ground facility for a real test.

We also have called a panel of independent experts from the braking industry for brakes for large aircraft on two occasions: In January of 1984 and again in June of 1985 we assembled this panel and had them look at all of our flight data, the fixes we've tried, where we were in the program then and asked for recommendations.

And we have implemented or are in the process of




implementing all of the recommendations made in the two reviews. However, as witnessed by the last landing in January, we are still frustrated and have not solved the problem.


[1495] 2552


The last time we landed at Kennedy Space Center was April 12 of last year, and that was, in fact-let's see, I think I gave you the wrong flight for the second stator damage. It was 51-D, and it was last April. It wasn't STS-9, but anyway, that one landed in April of 1985 at Kennedy runway, and we had a cross wind and therefore a high braking requirement, and we had stator damage, and wheel lock-up before stop, and it caused the tire to blow, and that gave us great concern. We have not landed at Kennedy Space Center since that time and we did not plan to until we implemented a nosewheel steering system that was failsafe, and we worked on that all last year. From that event, the 51-D landing, we worked to put a failsafe nosewheel steering system in to take the steering load off the brakes so that they could be applied for only braking load. And the plan was to land the 61-C flight again back at the Kennedy Space Center.

As Captain Young pointed out, concerns for landing at Kennedy relate directly to these brakes. They also relate to weather, and on 61-C we tried three mornings in a row to come into Kennedy, assuming our nosewheel steering and our brake system would perform in a satisfactory manner, and we were not able to solve the problem of variable weather just before daybreak, and




waved off and landed at Edwards. Of course, we had damage again on that flight, and we now I am sure are in a position regardless of a firm decision for the long term, are in a position where we will not want to land at Kennedy again until we see some more significant improvement in the braking system.

We have instituted last summer, in parallel with this, a complete redesign of the system which is long term and expensive, but we have decided the various fixes we have tried to the beryllium-carbon brake system that we have been using throughout the program to date, may never give an adequate solution that will satisfy all of the program requirements. And so we implemented a detailed design phase for a carbon, all-carbon brake, and that is now ready for implementation. It will take about two years to implement this system, but the design reviews have been held, and it is ready to go, and I am certain the program will be implementing it within the next several months.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: I am glad you answered the question that way because that leads also into the question of the landing at Edwards that we heard about this morning, and I would like both program office and the operations directorate to comment, if they would. We heard a persuasive argument on behalf of




the crews, and I would like to hear what the operations directorate, how they have supported or rejected that, and how the program office has supported or rejected that proposal.

MR. CHARLESWORTH: Let me say that following 51-D, the instance that Mr. Aldrich described where we wound up blowing the tire, one of the first things I did was go talk to then program manager, Mr. Lunney, and say we don't want to try that again until we understand that, which he completely agreed with, and we launched into this nosewheel steering development. We thought with the development of failsafe nosewheel steering and close control of the environment landing conditions, and that means very conservative, that once we got that nosewheel steering system to failsafe, that it was probably reasonable to go back and try the Cape again. And that was the basis for 61-C, and I was satisfied with that.

[1496] As Mr. Aldrich described, the weather bug got us on that flight. We do play that very conservatively. Sometimes we are not completely popular, but we have held our ground on playing those games conservatively relative to landing at the Cape.

Given the problem that has come up now with the brakes, I think that whole question still needs some




more work before I would be satisfied that yes, we should go back and try to land at the Cape.

MR. ALDRICH: Two points on that. One, I certainly would not propose to attempt to land at is Kennedy again until we think we have a brake solution that is satisfactory and we have tried it enough times to have some level of confidence in it beyond one or two flights.

Over the last six months, it seems to me, in being involved directly in the program and comparing it to what I've been with in the program prior to that time, which was also directly involved with the launches at Kennedy, we have had an extremely significant run of variable weather at Cape Kennedy, and a number of the launch days that I have had to deal with since last July. We have had weather that came right down the middle of the ground rules, which we write very clear, very good ground rules. They are as definable as you can define on paper, and we have the best weather forecasting and assessment people and equipment that you can have, and we have our crewmen in airplanes up in the weather assessing it, and even yet we have had multiple days of very marginal calls. That is, yes, it just barely meets the ground rules, but it may not stay that way, or the other way around, it doesn't but we're sure it's going




to clear within a short period of time.

And we have had repeated events like that at a much higher degree than I can really feel we had during the earlier several years in the program. And I don't know why that is, but it has become very frustrating. And it occurred to us three times in the landing phase for 61-C.

On the other hand, the runway at Kennedy Space Center was built, that was one of the first things built in the Space Shuttle program, was built with the intent of landing there. I think it was built to all of the known specifications that were put on the table at the time. That is, there were no constraints on it. It is as wide as a football field. It is 15,000 feet long. We have to train there because we have to land there for RTLS, and so one day in the future when our brakes really do work, there periodically are days like the one outside here today where you know you can count on the weather, you know it is good, and I think there should be consideration to sometime later in the program that we use the Kennedy runway in some manner. I would think it would be wrong to draw a finite conclusion at this point other than that we have problems today, and a long period of working brakes before I would want to readdress them.




MR. CHARLESWORTH: And Mr. Armstrong, I would like to say I agree with that because, you know, we even have runs of days in Houston where it is CAVU, as they call it, and I don't think it is unreasonable to expect that you can pick up runs of weather like that. And given we can figure out a situation with the brakes and be satisfied with that, to go back into Kennedy, but I think you've got to meet all these conditions.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Was it possible that just the characterization of a so called operational vehicle in some ways influenced the desire or pressures or inclination or whatever to land at KSC?

[1497] MR. CHARLESWORTH: I think it started out as a program goal, and I think we were trying to do it, and I think in my judgment we ran into problems. And as we saw the problems, we began to back away.

And until we are satisfied we've got a solution to those problems, I don't think we ought to try it again. Once we do, and if we can make the weather cooperate for a reasonable period of time, I don't see anything wrong with it.

MR. ALDRICH: There is one other factor. It is not a major factor, but in the way our resources are deployed in the program today, it takes about six extra days and about $1 million extra for landing at Edwards versus landing at Kennedy, and those are certainly parameters that are easily dealt with, but they are





CHAIRMAN ROGERS: But you have to offset that with the fact that with weather conditions being so chancy in Kennedy, every time you have to scrub or change your plans because of the weather, that is costly, too.

MR. ALDRICH: Yes, sir, it is.

MR. HOTZ: Mr. Aldrich, with the advantage of hindsight, this Commission has been accumulating a lot of evidence over the past two months on trends in the Shuttle program which are basically a greatly increased fight schedule in 1986, plus several exotic payloads such as Centaur, balanced against a series of trends, including an increasing number of launch scrubs and increasing shortage of parts and cannibalization, and crew training load that was only able to keep up with the schedule because of the launch scrubs, and a very demanding mission software program that was difficult to maintain, and I just wonder if in any of the meetings that you sat in during the last year or so, that anybody in NASA management was plotting these trends and putting them all together and wondering about where they were leading the Shuttle program.

MR. ALDRICH: Well, I can say yes to all of that except maybe assessing where it was leading the Shuttle program. I think it was leading the Shuttle




program where we were trying to go.

I have in my organization in Houston a fairly large organization that is responsible for implementing the manifest that is requested by the Agency, and in doing that, we do the detailed flight planning for laying out all of the parameters you mentioned and assessing what is realistic and what is doable and what is achievable and where it is not, and all of the constraints you mentioned are well known, and each is worked with the organizations involved, and within the understood boundaries and parameters we were attempting to meet what the program could achieve in terms of the requirements it was asked to achieve.

MR. HOTZ: And you felt that in a realistic analysis this was achievable?

MR. ALDRICH: Do you mean the manifest for 1986?

MR. HOTZ: Yes.

MR. ALDRICH: I believe it was a good goal, and by setting that goal we would achieve as much of it as was real as we move forward. I think we discussed in other testimony that we set an ambitious manifest and plan, and we work each day to meet it, and we deal with each day's problems as they come. We did not meet the goal we set for 1985, even though Captain Young said


[1498] 2560


that it was a fine performance; it did not meet the plan that was laid out. We did not achieve the number of flights that were on the books. And that quite likely could have happened in 1986 also.

Some of the most important things that we believe were on the agenda were the flights with the Centaur early in the summer, and the flight from Vandenberg later in the summer. Those were both very high priority activities in the program and still are not for those same schedules. And they were receiving extensive attention and review, and had great concern about them.

There are a number of safety issues with the Centaur that were a concern before the 51-L that were in work in the program, and those are still in work today, and others are on our books as a result of our re-review.

MR. HOTZ: But nobody expressed any concern that the system faced an overload in 1986.

MR. ALDRICH: Each of the areas you mentioned expressed concerns, and those concerns were worked in detail. Specifically, the ones with crew training and with the software deliveries were worked directly with Mr. Charlesworth, and we attempt to understand what the program would like to do and understand what is believed by the implementing organizations can be done, and we




put on paper what we believe is an achievable plan.

Granted, the longer you project it downstream, perhaps the more likely it is you will not be able to achieve it.

MR. ACHESON: So I take it you do not agree with the comment that was made at some point earlier today that the impact of spare parts shortages would really have begun to slow the program very seriously by the middle of 1986?

MR. ALDRICH: It was impacting the program seriously. I am not sure that it would have slowed the program. For instance, our plan for 1985 was to land each of the flights at Kennedy Space Center, which saves five or six days per flight, and the manifest was built originally assuming that we would have each of those five or six day periods. After the blown tire accident I discussed, we diverted and delivered all of our orbiters to Edwards, and turned around and brought them to the Cape, and we found in fact even in doing that, that did not pose significant impact on our manifest, even though we would have predicted before the fact that it would have.

So, I believe the plan for 1986 was workable. It was packed as complete as it could be packed for an optimistic shot at the things the program




and the Agency would like to have done, and we would have clearly changed it as we crossed the line where something could not be continued in the manner it was structured.

DR. WHEELON: Mr. Chairman, I would like to invite the comments of Admiral Truly and his colleagues, on the following proposal.

If we take ourselves back to early January, the country had four orbiters, we had a base in Florida and were preparing a base in Vandenberg from which the Shuttle could be launched. It was due to go into operation in the summer of 1986. As we sit here today, we have three Shuttles and we are still proposing to bring into operation that base at Vandenberg. If we do so, the operations and maintenance costs for that base will be about $350 million to $400 million a year we will pay this price whether we launch or not, just in order to maintain the option to do so.

[1499] Now, with only three Shuttles left, why doesn't it make sense to concentrate those three at Kennedy and forgo the beginning of operations at Vandenberg for a number of years until the fourth orbiter is available?

I make that proposal because it is quite clear that there is no compelling reason to open Vandenberg.




All of the launches going out of there can be accommodated by the expendable launch vehicles or can be moved to Florida.

And in that connection I invite your comments on the following. One is the apparent problem in the design of the flame bucket at Vandenberg which will require correction anyway. The second is what risk you attach to the use of the new filament wound cases on the solid rocket boosters rather than the steel cases which are used from Florida?

That is a lot, but that is the essence of the proposal. In other words, why not delay Vandenberg, concentrate our Shuttle assets in Kennedy and save the O&M costs which are very significant in these days of tight budgets?

ADMIRAL TRULY: Let me make a couple of brief comments, and then I will turn it back over to Arnie.

There has been a tremendous expenditure of national funds to get the Vandenberg launch site into operation, and we have been working, and I know in the last few weeks since I have been back on board, have worked extremely hard with the Department of Defense to work these very issues that you bring up. And they are being considered.




I personally don't see an impediment to us getting Vandenberg into operation because we only now have three orbiters for the immediate time. Your point on expenditure of O&M costs is certainly a valid one, and as I said, we are working that with DOD.

As to the filament wound case issue, I view that as-well, let me back up. As to the launch facility issue, that also is being worked very diligently, primarily by the U.S. Air Force, and the use of that facility on the schedule that we can support it with a flight vehicle is dependent on those efforts being successful.

Again, with the filament wound case, to me that is clearly a development and qualification issue, and assuming that the design passes its development and qualification testing, I am personally comfortable with a flight, including the first flight off Vandenberg, using the filament wound case.

And so the bottom line from a strategy point of view is that as long as our discussions with the Department of Defense indicate that that is in the national interest to continue to use the Vandenberg launch site beginning or shortly after we come back into flight status, we will continue to support that.

MR. ALDRICH: I would second almost all of




what Admiral Truly said.

The filament wound case is a separate issue, and it needs to be understood, and the qualification needs to be understood, and when we understand it and feel we're confident with it, I think we should use it.

The flame bucket issue, the entrapped hydrogen in the main engine flame bucket at Vandenberg, I think we have several ways to solve that problem and can solve it consistent with the [1500] schedule we are on that would lead to a first flight out of Vandenberg following the resumption of the Shuttle flights.

In terms of whether we should do it, I personally believe in a two-coast launching system and a four orbiter fleet, and I believe some of the plans that have been expressed for the nation at the end of this decade and on into the next decade really require a four orbiter fleet.

DR. WHEELON: The suggestion was quite in line with that, but we don't have four orbiters now, we have three, and that will be our situation for several years. The question was simply to delay the beginning of operations at Vandenberg until that fourth is available. That was the proposal.

MR. ALDRICH: Well, and the amount of delay, of course, would be another question. There is some




advantage to the program uniquely in the Shuttle vehicle to continue to get a launch at Vandenberg as early as we can. The launch environment, the ascent environment going out of Vandenberg is different from Kennedy Space Center, and we specifically have instrumented the orbiters for their first flights out of Vandenberg to take measurements which will characterize that flight regime and give us an engineering indication of the performance of the vehicle on the west coast as a launching system.

So there are benefits not only bringing the launching system on line, but to completely round out the understanding of the Shuttle design requirements and its ability to meet them in continuing to fly.

DR. WHEELON: I missed what are the benefits of bringing the facility on line?

MR. ALDRICH: Well, I may not have said any benefits for bringing it on line except that I believe it is an advantage to continue through with the process of checking and verifying the facility and bringing it to the point of flight readiness to complete that work which as been in work and delayed for some lengthy period of time for a variety of reasons over the years.

DR. WHEELON: There is an old role that every accountant knows, it isn't how much money




you have paid out so far in the project, there is only how much is left to be paid. It is a hard theorem to accept, but it really is true, I submit that the $3 billion that we have invested thus far in Vandenberg is irrelevant to what we do from here on.

Do you agree with that?

MR. ALDRICH: I shouldn't think that would be a major priority in deciding what we should do forward.

DR. WHEELON: I thought I heard Admiral Truly make that argument. Maybe I was wrong.

ADMIRAL TRULY: No. The argument or the statement I meant to make was to point out that the nation has invested a great deal of its treasure in that facility and that we are responding to the Department of Defense in their wish to get the facility on line. The missions out of there are national security missions, and we are responding to that desire and are working it extremely diligently with them to look at the available options.

DR. WHEELON: Thank you very much.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Mr. Aldrich, since you were here last there have been certain comments made, public comments made that media criticism of NASA, some of it was very harsh and unfair, prior to launching 51-L, may have influenced you in your decision making, and I assume


[1501] 2568


that you and Mr. Jesse Moore really are the two key people in making that decision to launch 51-L.

Did the media criticism or comments influence you to vote go on that launch?

MR. ALDRICH: No, they did not. Media criticism would not have that effect of any of that variety on my actions officially within NASA.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: And that would also be true, I am sure, of Mr. Moore?

MR. ALDRICH: Well, I can't speak for him, but I would be amazed if he would answer in any other manner.


MR. ACHESON: I have a question relating to Orbiter 103. On any reasonable assumptions of funding and availability of spare parts and progress and repairs, what would be the earliest you think that Orbiter 103 would be, let's say, repaired of its cannibalization and could be ready to the point of being considered an available orbiter for the fleet?

MR. ALDRICH: 103 has three major classes of modification going into it. None of those have to be made to cause it to be an orbiter available for the fleet. In fact, if we were able to launch, we could launch any of our three orbiters within a few months,




depending on their current configuration today.

However, 103 has been delegated to receive the Centaur modification configuration, and that will be done over the spring and summer in Florida. We are also looking at an additional safety feature for the orbiters that will fly the Centaurs, and that is to take the Centaur hydrogen vent which currently comes out beside the vertical tail on the fuselage and move it to the tip of the vertical tail so that it will exhaust the hydrogen away from the rest of the vehicle. That is an extensive mod, and it is a new mod. It is starting on the drawing boards in this timeframe, but it will take ten months for that implementation to be able to begin, and then a down period on the orbiter to install it.

Both of those to 103 are only required to enable it to fly the Centaur. The third modification is the completion of a series of modifications to the orbiter wings and underbelly to strengthen the 103 and 104 configuration orbiters for the west coast environment, the west coast flight environment. That has been known as a requirement for approximately nine months to a year, but the parts had to be made, the kits had to be made, and then the work periods had to be scheduled, and they were going in incrementally in Florida because the Florida flights could proceed without them.

103 is scheduled to receive the remainder of those mods between now and the end of the summer. If, however, we had a requirement and a capability to fly in that timeframe, any of that work could be deferred, and 103 is flightworthy, as is 104 or 102.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Regarding the Centaur, I would like to ask Admiral Truly if it would be his intention to have the, in view of your recent memo directive and so on, to have the Centaur maintain the same standards of safety and flightworthiness as other payload packages in the past.

ADMIRAL TRULY: Yes. I wrote that portion of the memorandum very carefully after working with both Arnie and a number of other people, and what it says in that section, it has to do with some guidance for the first flight of the orbiter when we return and the first year of operations, and in the case of the first flight, I specifically laid on some guidance like a day launch [1502] and a day landing at Edwards, etc., in order to allow the Level 2 to do its normal job of looking at many options. The guidance for the remainder of the first year was much more general in nature but laid out some guidelines so that Level 2 could steer its course.

And what it says is that we intend in general




to fly the first year of operation within our flight experience. That is, if we have flown the engines at, say, 104 percent, we will remain within 104 percent unless whatever the new thing that we do, including classes of payloads, which includes Centaur, goes through the same sort of conservative scrutiny for flight safety as we are putting the rest of the system to.

So in a word, the answer is yes, if we fly Centaur or any other new class of payload, we will apply that rigor to it.

VICE CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Just one last quick note to that in the subject of Criticality 1 kinds of things. I think we heard this morning that it was the feeling by some at least that Criticality 1 items should deserve some special treatment as they proceeded through processing and flight readiness and inspection and so on. Other views apparently in the past have been that if you treat Category 1 specially, then the Category 2 kinds of things might get unduly slighted and you want to be cautious about that.

Do you have a feeling that there is a practical way to treat Criticality 1 items with some special care? Can that be done?

ADMIRAL TRULY: Well, I should let Arnie I




think expound a little bit on where he is because we haven't had a lot of opportunity in the last week or so to discuss it, and I know he has done the most detailed work and is closest to the CIL review, but in the guidance it clearly states that we will do two things in the time we have in there, the two most important things that I think that we should do.

First is to relook at each Criticality 1 and 1R item from the ground up, and that work was already in process and had been started by Level 2 prior to, as many other things had been, prior to my memorandum. As to Category 2, we intend to have a review to make sure that none are miscategorized and have somehow slipped through the crack and in fact should be categorized at a more critical level.

Beyond that level of detail, I might ask Arnie to comment.

MR. ALDRICH: Well, a lot of the things in the program that are Criticality 1 items have been defined and accepted, I think as you have been briefed, in a general category. That is, they are things that are structure or they are things that are vessels, and therefore they are not other than inspections for use or assessments of engineering use. They are basically static kinds of items, and they don't undergo a lot of




unique testing from one flight to another.

The situation with the SRB joint is quite different. That is a very dynamic and active set of components, and when it is called Criticality 1, it implies a whole lot more regular work and rework and activity, and one of the proposals that has been implemented in this review or re-review of our activity is that we tie all of the operations, maintenance instructions at KSC, all of the formal procedures for working and handling the equipment on Criticality 1 items directly back to the design centers for formal review and configuration control.

In the past in the program the operations and maintenance requirements documents have come from the design centers, have been maintained by the design centers and controlled by [1503] them. But the Kennedy Center has implemented those requirements through another set of documentation called the Operations and Maintenance instructions, and those have not been reviewed back through the rest of the program for formal concurrence and control.

And as part of this rereview, we are going to institute that kind of control on all OMI's that relate to Criticality 1 and Criticality 111 hardware. Specifically, the reviews I am talking about are the




FMEA CIL review which was started several weeks prior to the time Admiral Truly's memo asked us to start it. That is being headed by Bill McCarty out of the Level 2 safety office but involves all elements of the program across the projects and the contractors and up through myself, and then to the Level 1 organization.

There is also a complete rereview of all of the OMI's at KSC, and that is under the lead of Bob Sieck at Kennedy, and it is in that review where we will tie the CIL work and the OMI work into a new process that gives this additional assessment and control.

And then the OMRSD's are all being re-reviewed also by the various projects, and that is being led by Mr. Bill Fisher at my level office at JSC.

And so that is a very specific and finite answer to your question. Perhaps you had a broader implication as well. That is the most specific thing that comes to mind, and I think it is a very positive step in that regard.

GENERAL KUTYNA: Mr. Charlesworth, in your role as operations, this morning we talked about safety, and crew survivability quite a bit. As we have flown the Shuttle, the crews have varied in number anywhere from two in the early development days to eight recently. In his last chart, Hank Hartsfield said that




the STS is not operational in the traditional sense and the risks will always be high. In light of that and what we have learned recently, have you given any consideration to limiting the crew to the minimum essential size to do the job; and what would that size be for the various missions?

MR. CHARLESWORTH: The answer to your question is no, I haven't considered it a great deal to this point, but I think as we go back through reflections on where we are and what has happened, that will be a question we ask ourselves. I can't give you an answer as to what the minimum size is. We started out, clearly we have flown with as few as two, but that is a tremendous workload. It is very difficult to do. Three, four, we have debated on occasion because of space station, but I am sure we will address that as part of our reflection on where we go from here.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: If there are no other questions, I would like to close with an easy question to Admiral Truly.

First, I want to compliment you on the excellent work you have been doing, and we appreciate it very much, and ask you, do you agree with the testimony this morning that astronauts are a very important management resource?





ADMIRAL TRULY: Astronauts come in various varieties, and some of them I think would make outstanding managers in the Shuttle program, and in various parts of NASA, and some frankly would rather remain in the cockpit. As a matter of fact, most of them would rather remain in the cockpit, but I think there's a lot of men and women in the astronaut office that [1504] would serve very well in a number of areas, particularly in this next year or so as we get the system back on its feet. And we fully intend to provide that opportunity to selected people in selected positions.

CHAIRMAN ROGERS: Good. Good idea.

Thank you very much.

(Whereupon, at 3:45 o'clock p.m., the Commission recessed, to reconvene at the call of the Chair.)

March 21, 1986 Session (part 2) | Volume 5 index | May 2, 1986 Session (part 1)