Wayne Hale is retired from NASA after 32 years. In his career he was the Space Shuttle Program Manager or Deputy for 5 years and a Space Shuttle Flight Director for 40 missions. On his blog, he writes that he will start posting more about his time at NASA:
Look for installments at irregular intervals over the next several months. Comment, critique, and question all you want. The facts should not be new, they were widely disseminated. My conclusions are my own.
In a previous must-read entry, “How We Nearly Lost Discovery,” Wayne writes about how NASA dodged a huge bullet. He describes the worst call of his life:
John Muratore, my good friend, fellow flight director, and then the head of the shuttle program Systems Engineering and Integration office informed me in very flat terms that he was in the JSC video lab with head photo interpreter Cindy Evans who had uncovered evidence of a large foam liberation during the critical mach number regime which appeared to have impacted the left wing of Discovery. Just like Columbia.
I was numb.
I made an illegal U-turn in the middle of NASA Road 1 and definitely exceeded the posted speed limit heading back to JSC and the photo lab. Here is one still frame from the video they showed me: A very large piece of foam coming off the tank heading for the wing.
It’s always interesting to get a unique perspective of historical events (i.e., rather than reading Wikipedia entries, for example). So I’ve put Wayne’s blog on my to-read list.