- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 2, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 (UPI) — The board that will investigate the disintegration of the space shuttle Columbia and the death of seven astronauts will be led by retired Navy Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr., NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe announced Sunday.

O'Keefe said the Space Shuttle Mishap Interagency Investigation Board would provide an independent review of the tragedy.

NASA said the board planned to meet Monday at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

Gehman co-chaired the independent commission that investigated the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Aden, Yemen, Oct. 12, 2000, and once served as the commander-in-chief of U.S. Joint Forces Command.

"While the NASA family and the entire world mourn the loss of our colleagues, we have a responsibility to quickly move forward with an external assessment to determine exactly what happened and why," Gehman said in a statement on NASA's Web site (www.nasa.gov). "We're honored to have such a distinguished panel of experts, led by Admiral Gehman."

Other members of the investigative board:

—Rear Adm. Stephen Turcotte, commander, U.S. Naval Safety Center, Norfolk, Va.

—Maj. Gen. John L. Barry, director, Plans and Programs, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

—Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Hess, commander, U.S. Air Force Chief of Safety, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

—James N. Hallock, Aviation Safety Division Chief, U.S. Department of Transportation, Cambridge, Mass.

—Steven B. Wallace, director of Accident Investigation, Federal Aviation Administration, Washington.

—Brig. Gen. Duane Deal, commander 21st Space Wing, Peterson Air Foce Base, Colo.

Several senior NASA leaders also will be a part of the panel, including:

—G. Scott Hubbard, director, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

—Bryan D. O'Connor, NASA associate administrator and former astronaut, Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, Headquarters, will serve as ex-officio member.

—Theron Bradley, Jr., NASA chief engineer, NASA Headquarters, Washington, will be executive secretary.

"We need to be responsible, accountable, and extremely thorough in this investigation," O'Keefe said. "This panel is charged with a most difficult task, but I am confident in their ability, their integrity, and their dedication to doing what's right. Their findings will help push America's space program successfully into the future."




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