NASA plans to accept shuttle board's advice

Discovery lands
Discovery in space
STS-121 shuttle
Shuttle Discovery missions
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA will not challenge any of the recommendations to be issued by the board that investigated the loss of the space shuttle Columbia, the agency's deputy administrator said yesterday.

However, Deputy Administrator Fred Gregory and two other NASA officials were unwilling to talk publicly about what is likely to be the board's biggest recommendation: changing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's culture.

Gregory; Bill Readdy, associate administrator for space flight; and Bryan O'Connor, associate administrator for safety, spoke at a news conference yesterday while visiting the Kennedy Space Center for discussions about how NASA is preparing to return the space shuttle fleet to service.

The window for launching a shuttle is March 11 to April 6, they said for the first time.

"Is March ambitious? Probably," Readdy said.

They met with members of the Stafford-Covey Return to Flight Task Group, a 27-member body chartered to help the agency implement the final recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

The task group is scheduled to meet today with the accident board chairman, retired Navy Adm. Harold Gehman Jr., and hold its first public meeting tomorrow.

Columbia was destroyed during re-entry Feb. 1, killing all seven astronauts on board. The disaster has been blamed on a piece of foam insulation that broke off the external fuel tank during liftoff and caused a hole in the left wing.

The board's recommendations are expected to be issued at the end of the month.

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