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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 (1952).

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
Special Assistants
Marie C. Hunter         Executive Assistant       Rogers & Wells
                        to the Chairman
M. M. Black             Personal Secretary        OMB
                        to Vice Chairman &
                        Executive Director
Mark D. Weinberg        Media Relations           White House
Herb Hetu               Media Relations           Consultant
John T. Shepherd        NASA Tasking        CAPT, USN(Ret)/Atty.
Administrative Staff
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
Investigative Staff
William G. Dupree         Investigator, Development     DOD IG
                          and Production
John B. Hungerford, Jr.   Investigator, Development     LTC, USAF
                          and Production
John P. Chase             Investigator,            MAJ, USMC/DOD IG
                          Pre-Launch Activities
Brewster Shaw             Investigator,            LTC, USAF/NASA
                          Pre-Launch Activities    Astronaut
John C. Macidull          Investigator, Accident   FAA/CDR, USNR-R
Ron Waite                 Investigator, Accident   Engineering
                          Analysis                 Consultant
John Fabian               Investigator Mission     COL, USAF/Former
                          Planning & Operations     Astronaut
Emily M. Trapnell         Coordinator, General     FAA Atty.
                          Investigative Activities
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
Writing Support
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
Documentation 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

Commission Activities

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 determinations.

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 elements;

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; and

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.

Next page

Source: NASA.


Share Your Memories!

What do you remember about Challenger Presidential Report? Have you any compelling stories to share? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"I find it VERY hard to believe that the shuttle launch decision-making party was unaware of the problems that made the launch of Challenger so very dangerous. Was there no communication between NASA officials and engineers and experts screaming for a launch postponement? It became well known, through the extreme coverage of this event, that NASA was under pressure to meet a deadline to justify its enormous spending before the US Government. It does not take a lot of brains to see that the findings of their UNAWARENESS of the then recent Challenger history were no more than a big COVERUP. I rest assured that the persons who disregarded the safety of those seven souls aboard Challenger will meet their justice some day."

--Tom in Florida

Space References (Books):
Dickinson, Terence. Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe. Firefly Books, 1998.
Greene, Brian. Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. Vintage, 2000.
Hawking, Stephen. Illustrated Brief History of Time, Updated and Expanded Edition. Bantam, 1996.
Hawking, Stephen. Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe. New Millenium, 2002.
Hawking, Stephen. The Universe in a Nutshell. Bantam, 2001.
Kaku, Michio. Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps and the Tenth Dimension.
Kranz, Gene. Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond. Berkley Pub Group, 2001.
Sagan, Carl; Druyan, Ann. Comet, Revised Edition. Ballantine, 1997
Sagan, Carl. Cosmos, Reissue Edition. Ballantine, 1993
Sagan, Carl. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Ballantine, 1997

Space References (Videos):
Cosmos. PBS, 2000.
Stephen Hawking's Universe. PBS, 1997.
Hyperspace. BBC, 2002.
Life Beyond Earth PBS, 1999.
The Planets
. BBC, 1999.
Understanding The Universe. A&E, 1996.



The Presidential commission investigating the Challenger accident at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). William Rogers, Sally Ride and other members of the Presidential commission examine the propellant contained in a solid rocket booster segment stored at one of the KSC ordinance facilities.

Courtesy of NASA

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