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Freeper Breaks Foam Problem Story at FR First!!!
Freerepublic ^ | 4/1/03 | Freepers

Posted on 02/04/2003 9:32:29 PM PST by Jael

Freeper Enlightiator broke the foam story here on Freerepublic many long hous before the media ever touched it. Please read his gracious post regarding his scoop.

Also hat's off to leadpenny for the original Columbia observation thread.

In Memory of The COlumbia

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#368: Astronauts doomed from the start  ^
To: Jael; Prov1322; Lancey Howard; McGruff; kattracks

All the credit goes to the guy who found out first!!! Enlightiator!!! I just did a few more google searches and got a tad more information. The original link at the NASA site no longer works. (The one that documents the problems with the foam breaking off and hitting the tiles.)

Thanks for the credit Jael, that was admirable on your part to take the time to link to my original post, but you did the most thorough job. Giving credit for "first source" isn't something the mass media often does, especially when they get their story ideas from sites like FreeRepublic!

I consider the Greg Katnik NASA article finding a group effort, starting with Prov1322's initial post Very close-up, slo-mo of the Columbia launch debris. which caught my attention and started my initial research (flash video no longer up unfortunately), through the far more excellent detailed posts you have made in this thread. [By the way, I have discovered that the reason you couldn't reach my link to NASA engineer Greg Katnick's article "Working on a Tile Damage Mystery (in which significant tile damage due to external tank insulation debris was found on Columbia's flight STS-87 in late 1997) was because I accidently linked to his bio instead of the article, which you fortunately managed to find again yourself and post in this thread. Interestingly, I first found the alternate link you posted in this thread,, but searched a little more to find the "official" nasa link. We must both use Google.]

So, WE Freepers broke this story about Katnick's NASA article first, on 2/1/2003 on Freerepublic at

As best as I can tell, this did not make the major news until the following two articles:

* Orlando Sentinel's Bob Shaw and Michael Cabbage wrote the article Foam chunks a problem since 1981. This was posted at on Monday, 2/3/2003, however the same article with the title Fuel-tank insulation capable of causing `incredible damage' is at, a PA newspaper, with the post date 2/2/2003.

* John Kelly's 2/3/2003 Florida Today article NASA's debris experts have been working on foam issue for years . This was posted at Freerepublic by McGruff at

Since that time, a Google news search shows Katnik's name all over the place, this story is really spreading. On 2/4/2003, The NY Times James Glanz and Edward Wong's article " '97 Report Warned of Foam Damaging Tiles-Absence of Freon Led to Detachment of Foam" also fell in line to make Greg Katnik a bit famous, as kattracks posted a link to at

But remember, we posted it here at FreeRepublic first!.

In my original post, I noted that Katnick had written an article. It was on a NASA educational site for students, and its obvious its the same source the big guys used -did they get it from FreeRepublic, or did they do their own search?; The news guys turned it into a "report," and the Orlando Sentinel provided this clarification just yesterday, 1/4/2003:

NASA worker: '97 damage report was 'embellished' by writer, By Anthony Colarossi, Sentinel Staff Writer. Posted February 4, 2003

The NASA engineer credited with writing a sharply critical 1997 report about damage to heat-resistant tiles on the space shuttle Columbia said Monday that the report had actually been ghostwritten by another NASA writer.

But Greg Katnik, a shuttle engineer who led the team that inspected the Columbia in December 1997, stood by the accuracy of the report. The report said more than 300 of the shuttle's fragile tiles had been damaged by foam insulation that fell off its external fuel tank during liftoff from Kennedy Space Center.

The report, which summarized a formal 76-page inspection analysis that Katnik had submitted to NASA, also said that more than 100 of Columbia's tiles had to be replaced and called the damage to the shuttle "significant."

But Katnik, a 20-year employee of Kennedy Space Center, said his formal analysis had been summarized and "embellished" by a NASA writer for NASA Quest, an agency-run Web site aimed at schoolchildren.

"I don't write that way either for kids or adults," he said. "I think he [the writer] was trying to make it dramatic for the kids.

"It wasn't meant to sound that dire," he added.

Katnik pointed to passages on the Web site describing a "massive" loss of insulating foam from the external fuel tank.

He said the NASA ghostwriter had accurately summarized the facts in his report -- which was not filed until February 1998 -- but had made the language more conversational. For example, his conclusion that the number of damaged tiles was "out of family" was changed to read, "the extent of the damage at the conclusion of this mission was not 'normal.' "

He said the NASA writer had turned his customarily "dry" technical language into something "that is more or less a detective story." It was intended to be an example of "how engineering is used to detect and fix a problem," he said.

The report was first cited in a story in Monday's Orlando Sentinel. The newspaper's attempts to reach him for comment Sunday had been unsuccessful.

On Monday, after receiving numerous calls from reporters, Katnik was given clearance by his NASA supervisors to answer questions.

Anthony Colarossi can be reached at or 407-420-6218

368 posted on 02/04/2003 10:35 PM CST by Enlightiator (Still researching....)

TOPICS: Announcements; Culture/Society; Free Republic; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: columbia; foam; frscoop; michaeldobbs; sts107
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
That's the beauty of this. NOBODY is "responsible," because the EPA regs FORCED the manufacturer of the foam to comply with EPA, and NASA was under no obligation to appeal the EPA regs as they applied to the foam.

This whole thing shows you why bureaucrats are generally bad news. Congress doesn't have to take responsibility for bureaucrat's decisions; the President won't take responsibility; and NOBODY can successfully appeal without enormous expense.

So you just give up and plod on.
41 posted on 02/05/2003 9:50:23 AM PST by ninenot
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To: isthisnickcool
Would you ping me if you hear or see anything regarding that?
42 posted on 02/05/2003 9:52:55 AM PST by Jael
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To: Jael; isthisnickcool
Ping me too. Jael, did you watch the news conference this morning on NASA TV and the reporter from Huntsville's question about the foam and EPA requirements and the weasely way it was answered? Apparently the 'answer' re: EPA regs and this foam breakoff is going to be...'that's old news, let's move on'. Amazing. The guy actually said that it was a long time ago, there had been no problems since that had impacted the shuttle or its safety in this particular manner.

I'm sure the Watergate(tm) class shredders are working overtime at Michoud and NASA today.

43 posted on 02/05/2003 10:00:41 AM PST by Black Agnes
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To: Jael
NASA was probably pressured by the EPA to do it. (Just a guess.)

It may be simpler than that. It may have been a matter of compliance with regulatory law. Even if the regs entertained exemptions (and I assume that an exception could have been made under the regs), we would need more info as to what NASA knew about the adhesion problems.

44 posted on 02/05/2003 10:30:33 AM PST by the_doc
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To: Black Agnes; Jael; fooman
I just heard a little more from inside.

I heard that on STS-105 they had a chunk come off of the external tank and wack one of the SRB's. After they recovered the SRB they found a very large dent at the point of impact.

45 posted on 02/05/2003 10:30:47 AM PST by isthisnickcool
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To: isthisnickcool

Did you hear during the news conference that one of the astronauts (David Hall?) emailed his brother about their taking pics of the underside of the left wing during the mission. If this is true then NASA/AF did try to take pics of the damage. What did they know and when did they know it? Wonder how many bird cages will be lined with the shredded papers when they're done...

46 posted on 02/05/2003 10:33:15 AM PST by Black Agnes
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To: ninenot
uh huh
47 posted on 02/05/2003 10:35:27 AM PST by fooman (PC Kills!)
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To: isthisnickcool
With the tape of stuff falling off over cali, we should get some info soon
48 posted on 02/05/2003 10:39:32 AM PST by fooman (PC Kills!)
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To: Chad Fairbanks
Who are you, and how did I end up on your ping list?

Let's just hope he didn't ping Arthur McGowan. :)

49 posted on 02/05/2003 10:40:14 AM PST by Constitution Day
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To: isthisnickcool
YOU are doing an EXCELLENT JOB!!!!!
50 posted on 02/05/2003 10:43:05 AM PST by Jael
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To: Black Agnes
Wonder how many bird cages will be lined with the shredded papers when they're done...

There are too many straight up and honest taggers at NASA for any coverup to work. Especially the older ex-military types near retirement. Some of them are having fits right now.

FYI, I understand that there was supposed to be an announcement Monday of who the next major shuttle contractor was supposed to be. I understsand that is on hold. It was supposed to be some contractor with a "hispanic name". I suppose that might be Hernandez Engineering or someone else.

51 posted on 02/05/2003 10:44:49 AM PST by isthisnickcool
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To: Jael
IMHO the title should read: "Simpleton whacknut jumps to conclusions before all shuttle debris is collected for analysis"
52 posted on 02/05/2003 10:49:53 AM PST by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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To: isthisnickcool
Ah. I wasn't implying that the engineers would do any shredding. Unless they lied outright about experimental outcomes. The administrators and bureaucratic pencil pushers might IMHO. Wonder how many administrators aren't ex-mil types. Hmmm.
53 posted on 02/05/2003 10:50:18 AM PST by Black Agnes
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To: Willie Green
54 posted on 02/05/2003 10:50:28 AM PST by katnip
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To: davisfh
It's doubtful that you'll ever see anything about this on the evening news.

Just as we never heard a word about the fact that they stopped spraying asbestos based insulation on all girders above the 55th floor of the WTC during construction in the '70's due to EPA regulations.

I blame the Muslims for destroying the WTC...I blame the deaths of thousands that day and the deaths of the Columbia 7 on this type of piss poor thinking

55 posted on 02/05/2003 10:51:02 AM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts ()
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To: Constitution Day
56 posted on 02/05/2003 10:52:05 AM PST by Chad Fairbanks ('I WISH, at some point, that you would address those damned armadillos in your trousers." - JustShe)
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To: Black Agnes
What? YOu are kidding me?? Someone finally asks and they blow it off???

I must find the transcripts to that briefing!!!
57 posted on 02/05/2003 10:54:44 AM PST by Jael
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To: Jael
Yup, blew him off. Although, IMHO strictly, the Huntsville reporter didn't do a very good job of wording the question. I'd have worded it so that weasel word answers would be difficult to give. He seemed nervous though so I'll give him a break :).
58 posted on 02/05/2003 10:57:46 AM PST by Black Agnes
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To: Jael
When we were young, we had a saying when one was being a bit arrogant..."So what do you want, a medal, or a chest to pin it on?"
59 posted on 02/05/2003 10:59:42 AM PST by Hildy
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To: backhoe
Thanks for posting that!
60 posted on 02/05/2003 11:00:30 AM PST by Jael
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