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Possible Shuttle Sabotage or Over-Active Imaginations?

Shuttle workers attempt to figure out the cause of the hydrogen leak. Credit: NASA

Shuttle workers attempt to figure out the cause of the hydrogen leak. Credit: NASA


A couple of news stories showed up yesterday suggesting the hydrogen leak that has kept space shuttle Endeavour grounded could possibly be the work of sabotage. Not by foreign operatives, but by the people who work on the shuttles themselves, in an attempt to extend the shuttle program — and their jobs — for a longer period of time. Understandably, shuttle workers and NASA leaders were outraged at suggestions of sabotage, and several of the articles were later edited to add the following: “This story was updated to reflect additional statements from NASA. Contrary to the previous report, NASA denies it is undertaking any effort to look specifically for sabotage.”

LeRoy Cain, deputy manager of the space shuttle program said no one at NASA suspects any intentional damage to Endeavour at the launch pad, but they do have steps to monitor people who have access to the shuttle — a policy that has always been in place.

“We have talked a great deal about those kinds of potential issues,” he said. “But we’ve got a highly professional workforce here, and to a person, at least when I talk to them, they’re in this business because they love the work that they do.”

No cause has been found for the leaking fuel line that has twice delayed Endeavour’s launch, as well as delaying and an earlier shuttle mission that eventually launched in March. And NASA has no reason to suspect it was intentional.

Engineers said they strongly believe that the problem will turn out to be an explainable flaw — not sabotage.

As of Thursday, NASA has no formal sabotage investigation under way.

Of course, in 2007 a worker for a NASA subcontractor tried to sabotage computers heading to the International Space Station by cutting wires inside the computers, but the damage was discovered and fixed before they were launched.

Here’s a new report from Orlando’s WESH TV. Investigative reporting or over-active imagination?

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Sources: Space.com, WESH TV,

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jake Tringali June 19, 2009, 10:25 AM

    I read 5 different articles about this story on other news sites, and they were all hyping up the story with over-active imaginations. None of the 5 stories had any evidence of sabotage, yet all 5 had ‘sabotage’ somewhere in the title.

  • simon June 19, 2009, 11:06 AM

    I would say that claiming that there has been an incidence of sabotage is much more sinister than simply having an over-active imagination.

  • Spoodle58 June 20, 2009, 2:59 AM

    I love the image at the top of this article, it shows the size of the external tank and SRB really well.

  • Jon Hanford June 20, 2009, 2:27 PM

    That is a pretty cool picture of the nose cone section of the SRB and the Shuttle’s External Tank :)

  • Astrofiend June 23, 2009, 4:48 PM

    Well, that’s the media for you. If there isn’t any proper news stories on the day, then they just go and make one the hell up…

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