Ex-employee: NASA knew about possible problem on Columbia

Published On: Jan 31 2013 05:11:46 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 31 2013 05:48:07 PM CST

Jan. 31, 2013: As the 10-year anniversary of the space shuttle Columbia disaster approaches, a new report claims NASA knew there was a problem. Ryan Korsgard reports.

HOUSTON -

As the 10-year anniversary of the space shuttle Columbia disaster approaches, a shocking new report has been released.

According to a blog from former NASA program manager Wayne Hale, Mission Control debated and decided not to tell the Columbia crew about the possible problem with re-entry.

The blog states: "After one of the MMTs (Mission Management Team) when possible damage to the orbiter was discussed, the (flight director) gave me his opinion: 'You know there is nothing we can do about damage to the Thermal Protection System. If it has been damaged, it's probably better not to know. I think the crew would rather not know. Don't you think it would be better for them to have a happy successful flight and die unexpectedly during entry than to stay on orbit, knowing there was nothing to be done until the air ran out?'"

Former NASA worker, now NBC space analyst, Jim Oberg disagrees with Hale's blog and said NASA did not know the shuttle was doomed and missed several opportunities to discover the suitcase-sized hole in the wing.

"The idea of not telling the crew is preposterous," said Oberg. "Some people were saying that in a facetious way. I never knew anyone was seriously saying we'll let them die in ignorance."

On his blog, Hale wrote that we should never say there is nothing that can be done to save the crew. Oberg said there were options.

"There were things you could have done. If not, you could have gone down swinging," said Oberg.

NASA has not responded to the claims.

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