Challenger Tragedy: Presidential Report Continued
By Marty McDowell/NASA
Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident
William P. Rogers, Chairman Former Secretary of State under
President Nixon (1969-1973), and Attorney General under President
Eisenhower (1957-1961), currently a practicing attorney and senior partner
in the law firm of Rogers & Wells. Born in Norfolk, New York, he was
awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1973. He holds a J.D. from Cornell
University (1937) and served as LCDR, U.S. Navy (1942-1946).
Neil A. Armstrong, Vice Chairman Former astronaut, currently
Chairman of the Board of Computing Technologies for Aviation, Inc. Born in
Wapakoneta, Ohio, Mr. Armstrong was spacecraft commander for Apollo 11,
July 16-24, 1969, the first manned lunar landing mission. He was Professor
of Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati from 1971 to
1980 and was appointed to the National Commission on Space in 1985.
David C. Acheson Former Senior Vice President and General
Counsel, Communications Satellite Corporation (1967-1974), currently a
partner in the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath. Born in Washington,
DC, he previously served as an attorney with the U.S. Atomic Energy
Commission (1948-1950) and was U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia
(1961-1965). He holds an LL.B. from Harvard University (1948) and served
as LT, U.S. Navy (1942-1946).
Dr. Eugene E. Covert Educator and engineer. Born in Rapid City,
South Dakota, he is currently Professor and Head, Department of
Aeronautics and Astronautics, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Member of the National Academy of Engineering, he was a recipient of the
Exceptional Civilian Service Award, USAF, in 1973 and the NASA Public
Service Award in 1980. He holds a Doctorate in Science from Massachusetts
Institute of Technology.
Dr. Richard P. Feynman Physicist. Born in New York City, he is
Professor of Theoretical Physics at California Institute of Technology.
Nobel Prize winner in Physics, 1965, he also received the Einstein Award
in 1954, the Oersted Medal in 1972 and the Niels Bohr International Gold
Medal in 1973. He holds a Doctorate in Physics from Princeton (1942).
Robert B. Hotz Editor, publisher. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
He is a graduate of Northwestern University. He was the editor-in-chief of
Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine (1953-1980). He served in
the Air Force in World War II and was awarded the Air Medal with Oak Leaf
Cluster. Since 1982, he has been a member of the General Advisory
Committee to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
Major General Donald J. Kutyna, USAF Director of Space Systems
and Command, Control, Communications. Born in Chicago, Illinois, and
graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, he holds a Master of Science degree
from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1965). A command pilot with
over 4,000 flight hours, he is a recipient of the Distinguished Service
Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit and nine air medals.
Dr. Sally K. Ride Astronaut. Born in Los Angeles, California,
she was a mission specialist on STS-7, launched on June 18, 1983, becoming
the first American woman in space. She also flew on mission 41-G launched
October 5, 1984. She holds a Doctorate in Physics from Stanford University
(1978) and is still an active astronaut.
Robert W. Rummel Space expert and aerospace engineer. Born in
Dakota, Illinois, and former Vice President of Trans World Airlines, he is
currently President of Robert W. Rummel Associates, Inc., of Mesa,
Arizona. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and is
holder of the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal.
Joseph F. Sutter Aeronautical engineer. Currently Executive Vice
President of the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company. Born in Seattle, he
has been with Boeing since 1945 and was a principal figure in the
development of three generations of jet aircraft. In 1984, he was elected
to the National Academy of Engineering. In 1985, President Reagan
conferred on him the U.S. National Medal of Technology.
Dr. Arthur B. C. Walker, Jr. Astronomer. Born in Cleveland,
Ohio, he is currently Professor of Applied Physics and was formerly
Associate Dean of the Graduate Division at Stanford University. Consultant
to Aerospace Corporation, Rand Corporation and the National Science
Foundation, he is a member of the American Physical Society, American
Geophysical Union, and the American Astronomy Society. He holds a
Doctorate in Physics from the University of Illinois (1962).
Dr. Albert D. Wheelon Physicist. Born in Moline, Illinois, he is
currently Executive Vice President, Hughes Aircraft Company. Also a member
of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, he served as a
consultant to the President's Science Advisory Council from 1961 to 1974.
He holds a Doctorate in Physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Brigadier General Charles Yeager, USAF (Retired) Former
experimental test pilot. Born in Myra, West Virginia, he was appointed in
1985 as a member of the National Commission on Space. He was the first
person to penetrate the sound barrier and the first to fly at a speed of
more than 1,600 miles an hour.
Dr. Alton G. Keel, Jr., Executive Director Detailed to the
Commission from his position in the Executive Office of the President,
Office of Management and Budget, as Associate Director for National
Security and International Affairs; formerly Assistant Secretary of the
Air Force for Research, Development and Logistics; and Senate Staff. Born
in Newport News, Virginia, he holds a Doctorate in Engineering Physics
from the University of Virginia (1970).
Presidential Commission Staff
Dr. Alton G. Keel, Jr. Executive Director White House
Thomas T. Reinhardt Executive Secretary MAJ, USA/OMB
Marie C. Hunter Executive Assistant Rogers & Wells
to the Chairman
M. M. Black Personal Secretary OMB
to Vice Chairman &
Mark D. Weinberg Media Relations White House
Herb Hetu Media Relations Consultant
John T. Shepherd NASA Tasking CAPT, USN(Ret)/Atty.
Steven B. Hyle Administrative Officer LTC, USAF
Patt Sullivan Administrative Assistant NASA
Marilyn Stumpf Travel Coordination NASA
Joleen A. B. Bottalico Travel Coordination NASA
Jane M. Green Secretary NASA
Lorraine K. Walton Secretary NASA
Vera A. Barnes Secretary NASA
Virginia A. James Receptionist Contract Support
William G. Dupree Investigator, Development DOD IG
John B. Hungerford, Jr. Investigator, Development LTC, USAF
John P. Chase Investigator, MAJ, USMC/DOD IG
Brewster Shaw Investigator, LTC, USAF/NASA
Pre-Launch Activities Astronaut
John C. Macidull Investigator, Accident FAA/CDR, USNR-R
Ron Waite Investigator, Accident Engineering
John Fabian Investigator Mission COL, USAF/Former
Planning & Operations Astronaut
Emily M. Trapnell Coordinator, General FAA Atty.
Randy R. Kehrli Evidence Analysis DOJ Atty.
E. Thomas Almon Investigator Special Agent, FBI
Patrick J. Maley Investigator Special Agent, FBI
John R. Molesworth, Jr. Investigator Special Agent, FBI
Robert C. Thompson Investigator Special Agent, FBI
Dr. R. Curtis Graeber Human Factors Specialist LTC, USA/NASA
Michael L. Marx Metallurgist NTSB
Woods Hansen Editor Free Lance
James Haggerty Writer Free Lance
Anthony E. Hartle Writer COL, USA/USMA
William Bauman Writer CAPT, USAF/USAFA
Frank Gillen Word Processing Supervisor Contract Support
Lawrence J. Herb Art Layout Free Lance
Willis Rickert Printer NASA
Lynne Komai Design Contract Support
Clarisse Abramidis Case Manager DOJ
Fritz Geurtsen Project Manager DOJ
John Dunbar Contract Representative Contract Support
Valarie Lease Support Center Supervisor Contract Support
Stephen M. Croll Correspondence Support Contract Support
Independent Test Observers
Eugene G. Haberman Rocket Propulsion Lab USAF
Wilbur W. Wells Rocket Propulsion Lab USAF
Don E. Kennedy TRW Ballistic Missile Office Pro Bono
Laddie E.Dufka Aerospace Corp Pro Bono
Mohan Aswani Aerospace Corp Pro Bono
Michael L. Marx Metallurgist NTSB
An Overview President Reagan, seeking to ensure a thorough and unbiased
investigation of the Challenger accident, announced the formation of the
Commission on February 3, 1986. The mandate given by the President,
contained in Executive Order 12546, required Commission members to: (1)
Review the circumstances surrounding the accident to establish the
probable cause or causes of the accident; and, (2) Develop recommendations
for corrective or other action based upon the Commission's findings and
The Commission itself divided into four investigative panels:
1. Development and Production, responsible for investigating the
acquisition and test and evaluation processes for the Space Shuttle
2. Pre-Launch Activities, responsible for assessing the Shuttle system
processing, launch readiness process and pre-launch security;
3. Mission Planning and Operations, responsible for investigating
mission planning and operations, schedule pressures and crew safety areas;
4. Accident Analysis, charged with analyzing the accident data and
developing both an anomaly tree and accident scenarios.
More than 160 individuals were interviewed and more than 35 formal
panel investigative sessions were held generating almost 12,000 pages of
transcript. Almost 6,300 documents, totaling more than 122,000 pages, and
hundreds of photographs were examined and made a part of the Commission's
permanent data base and archives. These sessions and all the data gathered
added to the 2,800 pages of hearing transcript generated by the Commission
in both closed and open sessions.
In addition to the work of the Commission and the Commission staff,
NASA personnel expended a vast effort in the investigation. More than
1,300 employees from all NASA facilities were involved and were supported
by more than 1,600 people from other government agencies and over 3,100
from NASA's contractor organizations. Particularly significant were the
activities of the military, the Coast Guard and the NTSB in the salvage
and analysis of the Shuttle wreckage.