Parts of shuttle Columbia's engines found

April 2, 2003 at 10:35 AM
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PICKERING, La., April 2 (UPI) -- NASA officials said Wednesday they have found additional pieces from space shuttle Columbia's engines in two craters on the grounds of Fort Polk in western Louisiana.

Kelly Humphries, a NASA spokesman, said an engine power head was found in one crater and a turbo pump and power head in the second. The area is at the easternmost end of the debris field that begins in the Texas Panhandle.

Columbia broke up Feb. 1 over Texas on its final approach for a landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Seven astronauts died in the event. More than 42,000 pieces of shuttle debris have been found since the accident.

Humphries said experts at the Kennedy Space Center would have to determine which of the shuttle's three engines the parts came from. They are attempting to reconstruct the shuttle as part of the investigation.

Humphries said NASA used data collected from previous finds to pinpoint the area for new search at Fort Polk.

"We correlated some data from previous finds of shuttle material in that area with some aircraft control radar hits and we used those to predict where some of these other pieces might be found," he said.

The heavier pieces of hardware have been recovered in the area along the Texas-Louisiana border. A total of six craters have been found on the Army post, including a large engine mounting bracket and other turbo pumps and power heads.

One of the new craters was 6-feet wide, a U.S. Forest Service ranger told the Alexandria Town Talk. One of the parts of was found 6 feet deep inside the hole on a small arms training range at the Army post.

More than 10,000 personnel have searched fields and deep forests in Texas and Louisiana since the shuttle accident, according to federal officials. Two people were killed last week when a search aircraft crashed in southeast Texas.

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