News reports about Challenger
The Washington Post, Jul 18, 1986:
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced yesterday that
intercom voice recordings from the Challenger crew cabin,
restored by IBM engineers, indicate the seven crew members never knew anything
was wrong before the space shuttle... broke apart....
The agency has not decided whether to release transcripts of the crew
conversations... "We've never before released crew transcripts, because they are
viewed as note-taking for the crew... ...[the tapes are] not perfectly clear,
and some segments require additional review."
The tapes [were] recovered from the Atlantic more than six weeks after the
carried five operational recorders containing both voice and computer data....
In response to a Washington Post request for information from the tapes under
the Freedom of Information Act, NASA responded on May 20, "There are no
transcripts of the voice tape recordings recovered from the crew compartment....
The data was nonrecoverable."
Time magazine, Jul 28, 1986:NASA... claimed that preliminary analysis
of cabin voice recordings shows that "the crew was unaware of the events
associated with the tragedy." Said one NASA technician: "The tape ends just like
the lights going out." But NASA would not reveal the contents of the taped
conversations and said that reporters would have to file freedom-of-information
requests to acquire transcripts.
The Washington Post, Jul 29, 1986:In response to a Washington Post
request for information from the crew intercom tapes under the Freedom of
Information Act, NASA responded on May 20 that the data was "nonrecoverable."
NASA officials later said they believed that to be true at the time, adding that
the restoration by IBM engineers was a "minor miracle."
Los Angeles Times, Aug 2, 1986:NASA officials have said that
investigators... could not initially make out the sound on the
recording. After further examination, they determined it was the voice of Smith.
"Uh-oh," Smith said...
Time magazine, Dec 24, 1990:Several news organizations
(including Time) sued NASA under the Freedom of Information Act... the New York
Times has continued to petition for tapes to back up a NASA transcript of cabin
conversation. In the official version, the final comment is Michael
Smith's "uh-oh"... A federal appeals court agreed with NASA that releasing the
voice material would constitute an invasion of privacy... A NASA investigator
has confirmed suspicions that the astronauts were conscious of their fate, and
that among the last words from the craft were those of one astronaut saying to
another, "Give me your hand."
Ft Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Dec 10, 1994:After the explosion in 1986 of
the space shuttle Challenger... the government
fought to prevent the release of the cockpit tapes. They said that the
survivors' privacy would be invaded if the public heard the sound of the
victims' voices in the moments before their death.
The New York Times sued for the release of the tapes after the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration released only transcripts... A federal
judge ordered the release, but the Justice Department appealed and won.
Cecil Adams, 'The Straight Dope,' Chicago Reader, March 31,
1995:Recently what purports to be a radio transcript of the Challenger crew's last minutes
has been showing up
on computer bulletin boards.... This is said to have originated in the
supermarket tabloid Weekly World News. NASA says it's a hoax
but the agency's credibility in this regard is about zero. After insisting the
astronauts never knew what hit them, NASA conceded months after the disaster
that they not only survived the explosion, they tried to save themselves and may
even have been alive when the cabin smashed into the sea at 200 MPH.
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