New Field Offices, NASA Consolidating Search Camps
The search for materials from the Space Shuttle
Columbia accident is entering a new phase.
NASA is consolidating two of the primary search coordination
field offices and establishing four incident command posts and base
Grid Technique: It's Working
The search is intensifying based on initial success with
grid-search techniques, and because spring vegetation growth is
expected to make recovery efforts more difficult.
Immediately after the accident, NASA established several
different local command and coordination field offices at Barksdale
Air Force Base at Shreveport, La., the Lufkin Emergency Operations
Center in Lufkin, Texas, and Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base
(Carswell Field), Fort Worth, Texas. The Lufkin, Barksdale and
Carswell operations will be consolidated at Lufkin this week.
The consolidation at Lufkin is designed for better
coordination of search and recovery operations. Barksdale will
continue to be the receiving and shipping point for Columbia
materials being sent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in
Florida for final identification.
Four interagency command posts and base camps are being
established in Corsicana, Hemphill, Nacogdoches and Palestine,
Texas, to direct intensified ground searches. Inter-agency
management teams are being deployed to the camps to conduct
searches. Up to 3,500 searchers, made up of personnel from a
variety of federal and state land management agencies, and fire
departments, will operate out of the camps under a management
structure typically used in support of wildfires. Teams of
approximately 20 trained wilderness firefighters will operate out
of the camps, and each team will conduct grid searches.
Navy, More Aircraft Join Search For Debris
In addition, air search assets are being increased
to 35 helicopters. The helicopters, provided by land management
agencies and the 3,500 searchers will be working in an area that is
240 miles long. The area runs from Ellis County, south of Dallas,
to Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Texas-Louisiana border. Air
searches will concentrate on a 10-mile-wide corridor five miles on
either side of that line. Ground searches will concentrate on a
four-mile-wide corridor two miles on either side of that line. Air
searches will be conducted from Lufkin and Palestine, Texas.
The U.S. Navy is continuing to manage water recovery operations
in East Texas reservoirs, including Lake Nacogdoches and Toledo
Bend Reservoir. The underwater search is using side-scanning sonar
and dive teams from the Navy and other organizations.