A little over 11 years ago, Shuttle Columbia burned up on re-entry. I want more info than the official reports reveal.
The Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) issued a report
in 2003 detailing what was known by then about the accident. Several years later, in 2008, NASA issued another report
, with the results of multi-year analysis of the debris and remains.
For anyone interested in the details of failure analysis and the piecing together of a plausible timeline from what is essentially dust, these documents are a mine of info. The costs of the original STS-107 mission were probably less than the costs of these reports.
And therein lies the rub.... for me, at least.
Section 3.4 of the second report (Crew Analysis, starting on page 3-71) is redacted in several places, presumably to protect the sensibilities of the surviving families. Certainly, that's a worthy sentiment and I can understand it.
What I can't understand, and would like some input on, is under what administrative authority public access to a publicly funded enterprise is restricted on emotional grounds? We did pay for those shuttles, paid for the missions, paid for ground assets and flight costs, paid for the recovery, the inspection, the analysis and the reports themselves. Where's the content behind redacted paragraphs sprinkled throughout section 3.4? As a taxpayer, I'm curious.
I find, after reading several hundred pages of these documents, that there's some pretty nasty stuff in there already. We are, however, adults (many of us, anyway.) I know people were torn apart, burned, and generally not in good shape. It was a plane crash. I get it. I've also seen a plane crash. I don't need the government screening for MY sensibilities. It's science, not porn, and we sponsored it.
At great expense, it was painstakingly assessed. And yet, it's hidden?
What's the rationale? Specifically, if there are any NASA folks here. Where and who are the custodians of these pages, are they subject to FOIA requests, and if anyone has seen them, are they any worse than stuff seen on Game of Thrones? Are they available somewhere for inspection and review, if not distribution?
The conclusions and resulting action items are listed, and the specific injuries sustained are implied, but the evidence for the conclusions is missing. Why? The people were part of the system, the system failed, the system failed those people. Are we not adult enough to confront the reality, whatever the hell it is?
I can see a veil is required for national security and legit defense needs. Embarrassment of NASA folks who might have to confront some bad decision implications? Not so much. Commercial TV sort of rules out protecting us from gore and horror. That horse is loose.
And IF this info is hidden due to executive order or some other machination, when/who and why? Is there an expiration for the concealment?
Really, any info shed on this at all is greatly appreciated. NASA types... speak up, won't you?