Thursday, March 24, 2011

NASA: No Foul Play In Launch-Pad Fatality

An investigation into a March 14 launch pad fatality at Kennedy Space Center has uncovered no evidence of foul play or any problems with safety tethers and other fall-protection equipment, a senior NASA official said today.

NASA Shuttle Program Manager John Shannon called the death of United Space Alliance swing arm engineer James Vanover "a tragic event." Vanover, 53, of Titusville, fell to his death off at launch pad 39A, where shuttle Endeavour is being prepped for a planned April 19 launch on its 25th and final flight. Medics rushed to the pad but were unable to revive him.

NASA suspended work at the pad for a day and sent grief counselors to talk with workers there. Launch preparations picked up the following day.

"There was a strong desire to resume work," Shannon said. "We kept the counselors out there for the entire week just in case anybody wanted to talk or any issues can up, and that I think was very effective."

NASA officials said the incident was the first fatality at a shuttle launch pad since an incident a few weeks before the NASA's first shuttle flight in April 1981.

NASA safety and security officials are investigating Vanover's death along with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office and the Brevard County Medical Examiner.

Shannon said he expected the investigation to be complete with the next few weeks.

No comments: