Space Surveillance Contributions to the STS 107 Accident Investigation

AAS 04-128

Kelso, T.S., R.F. Morris, G.T. DeVere, J.C. Randolph, B.R. Bowman, R.A. Racca, N.L. Ericson, and R.G. Thurston, "Space Surveillance Contributions to the STS 107 Accident Investigation," presented at the 2004 AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Conference, Maui, HI, 2004 February 9.


This paper addresses the analyses conducted by the AFSPC Space Analysis Center in support of the Columbia accident investigation. The analyses covered a range of space surveillance issues—from examining the breakup of a rocket body during the STS 107 mission, reviewing results of the recent NASA debris campaign, and assessing a "close approach" reported by the crew on Flight Day 5. Most notably, this paper will show how the Flight Day 2 piece discovered by the 1st Space Control Squadron was analyzed to determine its ballistic and radar characteristics and how this effort helped NASA determine whether this piece was from Columbia and, if so, what it might have been.

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