- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 9, 2003

NEW YORK, March 9 (UPI) — As space shuttle Columbia was breaking apart over Texas on Feb. 1, one of the pilots might have attempted to take control, ABC news reported. The network said Sunday that "sources working with investigators" cited recovered data from the last seconds of flight.

The shuttle is usually controlled by on-board computers during the re-entry phase, but ABC said the data "indicates that one of the pilots … may have attempted to disengage the auto pilot in what would have been a futile effort to regain control of Columbia."

If that's what actually happened, then it would be the first time a shuttle pilot ever tried such a maneuver during re-entry. It might also indicate that the seven-member crew, all of who died in the accident, was aware for a few seconds that Columbia was in trouble.

But, said ABC, "it is believed that no matter what either of the pilots attempted, nothing would have been able to save the shuttle and its seven astronauts."

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