Lufkin, TX -- Ground searches continue at full strength across a wide swath of East Texas where material from the Space Shuttle Columbia fell as it broke apart over the state on Feb. 1.
"We are continually amazed as we hear daily reports of confirmed debris finds of what a fantastic part the ground, air and water teams have played in the recovery success that has been accomplished. They have been a tremendous help in this process," said NASA Oversight Manager Dave King.
Air operations resumed April 9, after being temporarily suspended due to a helicopter accident in late March. The U.S. Navy is expected to finish dive operations this weekend.
"The search effort has been massive. Water, ground and air support personnel have done a great job but we still have a way to go," said Federal Coordinating Officer Scott Wells. "Everyone continues to be focused, everyone seems to have a strong desire to do the best they can, because they all realize that we have been assigned a very important job."
Facts concerning the Columbia Recovery effort as of April 9, 2003.
- After ten weeks, in excess of 13,000-ground recovery team personnel have recovered more than 60,200 confirmed shuttle debris items. Ground crews have searched over (76%) of the 621,000 assigned acres.
- Ground and air personnel have searched more than 2.1 million acres.
- Searches have also been conducted in New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and California for suspected debris.
- More than 70,700 pounds of shuttle material has been shipped to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. That represents approximately 32% of the weight of the craft.
- The Texas primary search field has been narrowed to 19 counties in East Texas. All known debris in Louisiana has been picked up.
- No debris has been confirmed farther west than Littlefield, Texas or farther east than Fort Polk, La.
- More than 90 federal, state and local agencies have participated in the recovery effort.
- The main debris search corridor is a 10-mile wide by 240-mile long area, extending from Ellis County, Texas to Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Texas, Louisiana border.
- National Guard, DPS State Troopers, local fire, police and volunteers conducted early search efforts.
- The main Disaster Field Office is in Lufkin, Texas. Base Camps have been established at Nacogdoches, Palestine, Hemphill and Corsicana, Texas. The Base Camp mobilization facility is in Longview, Texas. Satellite DFO's have been located at Fort Worth Naval Air Station and Barksdale Air Force Base, Bossier City, Louisiana.
- Estimated completion time for search operations is 3 to 5 weeks (April 30 to May 14).
The 866-446-6603 toll-free Columbia Shuttle Material reporting number will remain active and should be used by anyone finding suspected shuttle material.