Lufkin, TX -- In keeping with the plan to transition the full Columbia Shuttle Recovery operation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to NASA, all East Texas ground search and air search operations are projected to conclude on April 30. Specific searches in selected areas of Utah, Nevada and New Mexico will continue beyond April 30.
FEMA will turn over the reins of the recovery operation to NASA on April 30. NASA will open the Columbia Recovery Operation (CRO) office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston on that date. FEMA closes the Disaster Field Office in Lufkin on May 10.
The first projected ground search base camp operation closing takes place on Monday, April 21 and concludes with the last projected base camp closing on Monday, May 5. All air operations, both fixed wing and helicopter, are projected to conclude on Wednesday, April 30. Water operations have already terminated.
Facts concerning the Columbia Recovery effort as of April 17, 2003.
- After eleven weeks, ground crews have searched over 83% of the 704,000 assigned acres.
- Air operations have searched 577 (92%) of the 629 grids (2 by 2 mile) assigned areas.
- Water operations have concluded. A total of 3,100 targets were cleared in Toledo Bend and Lake Nacogdoches. The water search covered nearly 18 square nautical miles.
- More than 79,900 pounds of shuttle material has been shipped to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. That represents approximately 37% of the weight of the craft.
- All reported debris in Louisiana has been picked up.
- No debris has been confirmed farther west than Littlefield, Texas or farther east than Fort Polk, La.
- Under the FEMA Public Assistance Program, Texas has been obligated $2.6 million and Louisiana has been obligated $395,000 for approved county/parish shuttle debris recovery related activities.
The 866-446-6603 toll-free Columbia Shuttle Material reporting number will remain active and should be used by anyone finding suspected shuttle material.