Shuttle Crew in Florida for Launch

Jun 27, 2006
Space shuttle crew arrives in Florida for dress rehearsals

(AP) -- Space shuttle Discovery's crew of seven arrived at the Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday for this weekend's launch, a day after a top NASA engineer who praised his colleagues for voicing doubts about the wisdom of going ahead with the flight was removed from his job.

Charlie Camarda said in an e-mail to colleagues Monday that he was forced out as chief of the engineering directorate at the Johnson Space Center and that he had been offered another position working for NASA's Engineering and Safety Center.

He did not offer a specific reason for his removal, and a NASA spokesman would not comment on Camarda's departure.

Discovery is scheduled to lift off on Saturday. At a high-level flight-readiness meeting earlier this month, NASA's top safety and engineering officers recommended against a launch until further design changes are made to the external fuel tank to prevent foam from breaking off and hitting the shuttle - the very problem that doomed Columbia in 2003.

But the two officials were overruled by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, who said that there was no risk to the crew members since they could use the international space station as a safe haven if Discovery were damaged by foam during liftoff.

The Discovery mission would be just the second shuttle flight since the Columbia disaster that killed seven astronauts.

In the e-mail, Camarda praised his colleagues for voicing their opposition to launching Discovery without further changes, though he did not say precisely where he stood on the question.

"I cannot be a party to rumor, innuendo, gossip and/or manipulation to make or break someone's career and/or good name," Camarda said in the e-mail. "I refused to abandon my position on the (mission management team), and asked that if I would not be allowed to work this mission that I would have to be fired from my position and I was."

The e-mail was first reported by Florida Today and the Houston Chronicle. Camarda did not respond to a request for an interview Tuesday, and nobody answered the phone at his Houston home.

NASA spokesman James Hartsfield said he could not comment on Camarda's departure but added that open communication on safety was encouraged during the flight-readiness meeting.

Camarda's replacement was Steve Altemus, former deputy director of the engineering directorate, which provides engineering design, development and testing for space flight programs in Houston.

Discovery's seven-member crew, led by Steve Lindsey, arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in five T-38 training jets Tuesday morning. Lindsey said he was optimistic the shuttle would get off the ground as scheduled on Saturday.

"We've been training for an awfully long time," he said. "We're as prepared as we're ever going to be."

By MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Cassini sees sunny seas on Titan

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rocket failure casts spotlight on risks of space flight

Oct 29, 2014

The explosion of a privately owned rocket on its way toward the International Space Station cast a spotlight on the risks involved with NASA's reliance on the fledgling commercial space industry, experts ...

Russian rocket engines suspected in launch blast

Oct 29, 2014

Crews searched for scorched wreckage along the Virginia coast Wednesday in hopes of determining why an unmanned commercial rocket exploded in a blow to NASA's strategy of using private companies to send supplies ...

Supply rocket headed to space station explodes (Update)

Oct 28, 2014

An unmanned commercial supply rocket bound for the International Space Station exploded moments after liftoff Tuesday evening, with debris falling in flames over the launch site in Virginia. No injuries were ...

'Silicon Beach' brings tech boom to Los Angeles

Oct 22, 2014

So long Silicon Valley. These days entrepreneurs and engineers are flocking to a place better known for surfing waves than the Web. Amid the palm trees and purple sunsets of the Southern California coastline, ...

Recommended for you

Cassini sees sunny seas on Titan

14 hours ago

(Phys.org) —As it soared past Saturn's large moon Titan recently, NASA's Cassini spacecraft caught a glimpse of bright sunlight reflecting off hydrocarbon seas.

Is space tourism safe or do civilians risk health effects?

17 hours ago

Several companies are developing spacecraft designed to take ordinary citizens, not astronauts, on short trips into space. "Space tourism" and short periods of weightlessness appear to be safe for most individuals ...

An unmanned rocket exploded. So what?

20 hours ago

Sputnik was launched more than 50 years ago. Since then we have seen missions launched to Mercury, Mars and to all the planets within the solar system. We have sent a dozen men to the moon and many more to ...

NASA image: Sunrise from the International Space Station

21 hours ago

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman posted this image of a sunrise, captured from the International Space Station, to social media on Oct. 29, 2014. Wiseman wrote, "Not every day is easy. Yesterday was a tough one. ...

Copernicus operations secured until 2021

21 hours ago

In a landmark agreement for Europe's Copernicus programme, the European Commission and ESA have signed an Agreement of over €3 billion to manage and implement the Copernicus 'space component' between 2014 ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.