Welcome to SPACE.com's complete archive of stories related to NASA's efforts to return to flight following the STS-107 Shuttle Columbia Disaster.

The stories archived here cover the period from the release of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board report on Aug. 26, 2003 to the present. The stories are presented in reverse chronological order. This page was last updated Nov. 6, 2003.

Look here for an archive of stories covering the period from the loss of Columbia on Feb. 1, 2003 to the release of the CAIB report on Aug. 26, 2003. Our STS-107 mission coverage from pre-launch to the day before the scheduled landing is here. Follow this link to get back to the main Shuttle Return to Flight Report page.

Return to Flight Stories Since Aug. 26, 2003 In Reverse Chronological Order

Public Attitudes Towards Space Exploration Surveyed
In the post-Columbia shuttle era, public support for NASA remains high. But the tragedy prompted vagueness as to the direction and intensity of piloted missions in the U.S. space-related research and development effort.

Wisconsin Students Test NASA Curriculum
Students at a local elementary school have spent the past year collecting data to help NASA field test a satellite device to be used by astronauts on the International Space Station.

For President's Moon-to-Mars Commission, Now Comes the Hard Part
The commission tasked with fleshing out President George W. Bush's vision of pushing human space exploration beyond Earth orbit will layout a broad set of objectives for NASA when it reports back to the president.

Space Advocacy Groups Unite to Back Moon, Mars and Beyond Vision
NASA's vision of revisiting the Moon, stepping onto Mars and trekking to other destinations received a major boost today from leading civilian space support groups.

Space Advocacy Groups Unite to Back Moon, Mars and Beyond Vision
NASA's vision of revisiting the Moon, stepping onto Mars and trekking to other destinations received a major boost today from leading civilian space support groups.

NASA Chief Says Agency Must Revamp Organization to Reach Moon, Mars
NASA must undergo a fundamental transformation in how it approaches future space science and human exploration missions, the space agency's top official told a presidential commission Tuesday.

Space Experts Say International Cooperation is Key for NASA's Space Vision
NASA should not limit itself to merely seeking support from the American public to push forward its vision of the human exploration of space, according to the foreign space agency directors, scientists and space enthusiasts addressing a presidential commission Monday.

NASA Releases Shuttle Return to Flight Plan
NASA released today a status report on safely returning space shuttles to flight. Presently, the space agency has a shuttle liftoff slated for no earlier than March 2005.

Commentary: Is Bush's Moon-to-Mars Vision Dimming?
Like his father's proposal to go to Mars, President George W. Bush's grand space exploration vision appears to be on the verge of being scuttled well before launch. Despite its goal of refocusing NASA, the vision's potential to inspire dreams and garner new funds is largely evaporating.

Shuttle Contractor Adapting To Post-Columbia Operations
Managers at United Space Alliance (USA) are contemplating the creation of an independent safety authority that would be similar in purpose to the Independent Technical Authority NASA is forming.

Changing Priorities on Road to Shuttle Return to Flight
HOUSTON -- While NASA is pushing forward to once again launch shuttles into space, the agency still has a long way to go in order to complete the International Space Station (ISS) by the end of the decade.

NASA Safety Review Uncovers Poor Records
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- NASA is doing a poor job keeping track of breakdowns and other problems aboard the International Space Station, an internal audit released Friday found.

New Plans for Keeping Astronauts Safe
GALVESTON, Texas -- NASA engineers are developing a new crew escape system that would ensure the survival of humans aboard manned space vehicles.

Shuttle Might Not Launch Until March 2005
GALVESTON, Texas -- NASA will most likely not fly a space shuttle until early 2005, delaying plans for a fall launch to allow additional studies into the foam insulation coating on the craft's external fuel tank.

NASA Chief: Fall Shuttle Launch Unlikely
WASHINGTON -- NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said it is looking increasingly unlikely the space shuttle will be cleared to launch in the September through October window the space agency had been targeting.

NASA's Revamped Mission Management Team Prepares for the Future
HOUSTON -- When the next space shuttle flies again, the voyage will be carefully monitored each day by a new group of senior program officials determined to avoid another tragedy like the one that befell Columbia.

Shifts in Political Winds Biggest Challenge to Bush's Space Vision Team
WASHINGTON - The chairman of President George W. Bush's Commission on Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy said the panel's main challenge is charting a course back to the Moon and points beyond that is affordable and capable of weathering shifts in the political winds.

Prominent Business Leaders, Scientists on Bush's Mars-Moon Commission
President George W. Bush announced Friday the business leaders, scientists and other spaceflight experts who will advise him on how to carry out the specifics of his new vision for putting humans back on the Moon and eventually on Mars.

Vision Team Meets Today: Inside Bush's Space Committee
Neil deGrasse Tyson was appointed in late January to serve on a nine-member commission that will report back to the White House in four months on how NASA should go about getting astronauts back on the Moon by 2020 and then sending them on to Mars.

FAQ: Bush's New Space Vision
President Bush's Jan. 14 speech painted broad brushstrokes of his plan to put humans back on the Moon and send them to Mars. He will depend on NASA and a new commission to sketch in the details.

Bush Vows to Expand 'Human Presence Across Our Solar System'
WASHINGTON -- U.S. President George W. Bush today set in motion the most dramatic changes in NASA's priorities since the dawn of the Apollo program more than 40 years ago and declared a new era in the age of space exploration.

Bush Policy to Retire Shuttle Begs Additional Details
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- President Bush's vision for the future of NASA, which centers on humans going back to the Moon and then on to Mars, could be the last thing anyone connected with the space shuttle program wants to hear. 

Interim Report: NASA Still a Long Way from Return to Flight
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA is long way from returning the shuttle to flight and has been less than forthcoming with detailed plans in response to recommendations made by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), the group assigned to oversee the agency's progress announced Tuesday.

Shuttles Will Return to Flight Upgraded With Added Technology
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- When the next space shuttle lifts off, perhaps as early as September, an upgraded model of the decades-old spaceship will be doing the flying.

Shuttle Wings to Include New Damage Detecting Sensors
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Sensors designed to pinpoint potential damage from falling debris or other objects will be installed into the wings of NASA's remaining shuttle fleet, officials overseeing the space agency's return to flight efforts said Thursday.

NASA Forms New Safety Panel Stressing Original Charter
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A revamped Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) more closely based on its original 1967 charter has been named by NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe according to a statement released late Tuesday.

Next Shuttle Launch 'Will Be When it Happens'
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA is hopeful that the space shuttle fleet will resume flying as early as Sept. 12, 2004, but time-consuming efforts to develop in-flight repair kits and solve other technical hurdles could alter those plans.

Worlds in Collision: NASA, White House Play Planetary Politics
For those hungering to move humanity beyond the confines of Earth orbit, the words from U.S. President George Bush are clear and decisive: "Back to the Moon; back to the future.

NASA's O'Keefe Tells Space Agency Denial Must End
WASHINGTON -- Eight months after the shuttle Columbia tragedy, some NASA employees have yet to accept that the federal agency must change, space agency administrator Sean O'Keefe said Thursday.

U.S. Senators Debate Scientific Value of Space Station
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A pair of U.S. senators sought answers Wednesday from NASA and others as to the true scientific value of the International Space Station, with one wondering why the United States -- among other examples -- is spending billions to learn how toys work differently in space.

CAIB's Gehman Tells Congress NASA Headed in Right Direction
WASHINGTON -- The head of the board that investigated the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster told a congressional panel  that NASA's response to concerns about deteriorating conditions aboard the international space station is a step in the right direction, but that the U.S. space agency has a long way to go to reform the way it manages risky programs.

O'Keefe Says OSP Plan Consistent With 2004 Budget Request
WASHINGTON -- NASA's schedule for the Orbital Space Plane does not move the program out ahead of the ongoing inter-agency space review being led by the White House, the agency's administrator Sean O'Keefe said Oct. 29 in response to recent Congressional concerns about the program.

Columbia Accident Board Report Complete with New Volumes
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Five additional volumes of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board report were released to the public Tuesday, offering additional insight into the panel's requirements for return to flight and repeating warnings about shuttle systems that need attention to avoid future disasters.

NASA: On the Road to Ruin ... or Recovery?

NASA has taken on the look of a lost-in-space agency. Its shuttle fleet is stuck on the ground. A multi-billion dollar international space station project seems to some observers more a pork barrel claptrap than a hoped-for "world class" research laboratory.

Congress Wants NASA To Explain Decision-Making Process
WASHINGTON -- NASA officials headed to Congress late today to brief the House Science Committee on the agency's decision making process in light of revelations that the most recent space station crew was launched Oct. 18 over the objections of two space agency doctors responsible for overseeing health and environmental conditions aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Russian Craft Fills U.S. Shuttle Void
MOSCOW (AP) -- A Russian spacecraft filled in for the second time since U.S. shuttle program was grounded this year after the Columbia disaster, delivering a three-man crew Monday to the International Space Station.

Damaged Shuttle to Dock at Space Station Under New Plan
CAPE CANAVERAL -- NASA could remotely ditch a damaged shuttle in the Pacific Ocean and rescue astronauts stranded at the International Space Station if a scenario like the one which doomed Columbia cropped up in the future.

Post-Columbia NASA Managers Are Sensitive Guys
SPACE CENTER, Houston (AP) -- In the land of rocket science, where numbers count for everything and hunches are scorned, two men are on a mission more difficult than plugging a hole in the space shuttle.

Best Shuttle Repair Tool: Wal-Mart Paint Brush
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A simple foam paint brush that costs only pennies at hardware stores could be an essential tool in returning the space shuttle to orbit, NASA's administrator said Wednesday.

Chase Planes Could Allow Night Shuttle Launches
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A pair of WB-57F chase planes equipped with sophisticated imaging systems might be the ticket for NASA to resume launching space shuttles at night, agency officials said Wednesday.

NASA Seeks Ways to Inspect Shuttle Wing Panels at KSC
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Extensive factory inspections of wing panels between flights could add as much as three months to the time it takes to prepare a space shuttle orbiter for launch, NASA and contractor engineers said Friday.

Safety Panel Resignations Seen as Inevitable
WASHINGTON -- The sudden resignation of all nine members of NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) this week caught NASA off guard and garnered national headlines.

Dangerous Space Station Events Suggest Serious Accident Waiting to Happen
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A serious accident is waiting to happen on the International Space Station due to poor communications between American and Russian engineers, says one of the nine members of a NASA safety panel who resigned Tuesday.

Nine NASA Safety Panel Members Resign
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nine experts on a NASA space safety advisory panel have resigned in the wake of sharp criticism from the Columbia accident investigation board and by Congress, the space agency said Tuesday.

NASA Says Safety Rule Will Lead to Delays
SPACE CENTER, Houston (AP) -- A new NASA safety rule restricting shuttle launches to daylight hours will lead to more and longer flight delays and, unless the space agency is strong enough to resist, deadline pressures similar to those that contributed to the Columbia disaster, officials warned Wednesday.

NASA Engineer Doubts Repair Kit's Value
SPACE CENTER, Houston (AP) -- A top NASA engineer says future astronauts venturing out on spacewalks may not be able to fix the kind of damage that doomed Columbia, despite accident investigators' recommendations.

Return to Flight Task Force Wraps Up Human Spaceflight Fact-Finding Trip
A special NASA-convened watchdog group is coming up to speed in judging the agency's readiness in restarting space shuttle missions -- now not likely to occur any earlier than March 11. What remains a sticky issue, however, is how best NASA can maintain a constant vigil in assuring safe shuttle flights in the future

Shuttle Team at Kennedy Space Center Kept Busy
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Even as NASA carefully lays out its plan to return the space shuttle to flight, workers at the Kennedy Space Center are busy with a list of things to do on each of the surviving spaceplanes.

'Smarter, Stronger, Safer' NASA Targets March or April Launch
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- "Smarter, stronger, safer" is NASA's new mantra, according to an introductory statement in the space agency's Return to Flight Implementation Plan released Monday.

NASA to Release Return to Flight Plan on Monday
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's formal response in writing to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) report will be released to the public on Monday, space agency officials said Thursday.

Lawmakers Press O'Keefe For Cost Figures
WASHINGTON -- U.S. lawmakers had plenty of questions, criticisms and support for NASA Wednesday during the opener of what promises to be a long season of hearings into the causes and consequences of the Feb. 1 Space Shuttle Columbia accident.

First of Many Space Shuttle Hearings Begin Wednesday
WASHINGTON -- The first of what could be a series of weekly congressional hearings on NASA begins Wednesday when the Senate Commerce Committee calls NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe and Columbia Accident Investigation Board chairman Harold Gehman to testify.

NASA Finally Looks to Sociologist
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The first time Diane Vaughan heard from anyone at NASA was in April, two months after the Columbia tragedy and seven years after the publication of her book, ''The Challenger Launch Decision.''

NASA Worker Proposed 'Scrub' of Safety Web Site
WASHINGTON (AP) -- NASA braced quickly for the intense investigation into the Columbia disaster, according to newly disclosed e-mails that include one proposal by a midlevel employee at headquarters for a ''complete scrub'' of the agency's safety office Web site to remove outdated or wrong information.

Marshall External Tank Manager to Leave NASA
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama (AP) -- The NASA manager who oversaw space shuttle Columbia's faulty external tank has been removed in the continuing fallout from the shuttle disaster.

Columbia Board Investigator Wants More Changes in NASA
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Columbia accident investigator who is skeptical that NASA will make all the required safety changes says even more, tougher recommendations are needed and has issued a supplemental report to highlight his concerns about space shuttle inspections and mechanical breakdowns.

Florida Launch Site Workers Encouraged to Speak Up for Safety
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Kennedy Space Center workers are encouraged to speak up about safety concerns and can do so without fear of retribution, the shuttle launch and landing site's top boss said Wednesday.

NASA's O'Keefe Vows to Follow Columbia Investigation Recommendations
WASHINGTON -- NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe vowed Wednesday to pursue all the recommendations the Columbia Accident Investigation Board issued in its 248-page final report.

NASA's Character to be Tested in Coming Months
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Its management culture indicted by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), NASA leaders now will learn something about their character.

Columbia Timeline: Seven Months from Tragedy to Final Report
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Nearly seven months after Columbia broke apart over Texas skies the formal investigation is complete and the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) report was released today in Washington.

Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report Excerpts
WASHINGTON -- Here are selected excerpts -- presented by topics -- from the Columbia Accident Investigation Board final report.

Columbia Report Faults NASA Culture, Government Oversight
WASHINGTON -- Politics, budgets, schedule pressure and managerial complacency all played roles in causing the Feb. 1 Columbia tragedy, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) said in its final report released today.

STS-107 Columbia Mission Archive | Columbia Disaster Report | Shuttle Return to Flight Report