Columbia Anniversary Don't Give Up

February 1, 2013 - 10:32 AM
FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2007, file photo, Space shuttle program manager Wayne Hale listens to a question from members of the media during a launch readiness news conference for the Space Shuttle Endeavour at Kennedy Space Center. Hale wrestled with what he thought was a hypothetical question: What do you tell the astronauts of a doomed space shuttle Columbia? When the NASA official raised the question in 2003 just days before the accident that claimed seven astronauts' lives, managers thought _ wrongly _ that Columbia's heat shield was fine. They told astronauts they weren't worried about launch damage. But after a managers meeting, mission operations chief Jon Harpold told flight director Hale that if something was wrong it was hopeless and maybe they shouldn't tell the crew. Hale wrote about the conversation ten years later, saying NASA would have tried to save the crew had it realized the problem's true severity. He said the lesson from Columbia is: Don't give up. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)