This line of inquiry did not begin until earlier this month - more than three months after the accident - because there were "too many emotions, too many egos," said retired Adm. Harold Gehman, chairman of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.
Testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee, Gehman said this part of his inquiry was in its earliest stages, starting just 10 days ago. But Gehman said he already has concluded it is "inconceivable" that NASA would have been unable or unwilling to attempt a rescue for astronauts in orbit if senior shuttle managers and administrators had known there was fatal damage to Columbia's left wing.
Gehman told reporters after the hearing that answers to these important questions could have enormous impact, since they could place in a different context NASA's decisions against more aggressively checking possible wing damage in the days before Columbia's fatal return.
Investigators believe breakaway insulating foam damaged part of Columbia's wing shortly after lift-off, allowing superheated air to penetrate the wing during its fiery re-entry on Feb.1, melt it from inside.
Among those decisions was the choice by NASA's senior shuttle managers and administrators to reject offers of satellite images of possible damage to Columbia's left wing before the accident. The subject dominated the early part of Wednesday's hearing.
Gehman complained managers and administrators "missed signals" when they rejected those offers for images, a pointedly harsh assessment of the space agency's inaction during the 16-day shuttle mission.
"We will attempt to pin this issue down in our report, but there were a number of bureaucratic and administrative missed signals here," Gehman told senators. "We're not quite so happy with the process."
The investigative board already had recommended that NASA push for better coordination between the space agency and military offices in charge of satellites and telescopes. The U.S. National Imagery and Mapping Agency in March agreed to regularly capture detailed satellite images of space shuttles in orbit.
Still, Gehman said it was unclear whether even images from America's most sophisticated spy satellites might have detected on Columbia's wing any damage, which Gehman said could have been as small as two inches square. The precise capabilities of such satellites proved to be a sensitive topic during the Senate hearing.
31.This text is most probably taken from an article entitled "____________".
[A] Gehman's Comments on Columbia Accident.
[B] An Inquiry into Columbia Accident.
[C] Shedding Light on Shuttle's Safety.
[D] NASA's Problems Being Exposed.
32.The word "they" in the sentence "since they could place" (Para.3) denotes
33.According to the writer, what may chiefly be responsible for the Columbia accident?
[A] A supposed damage to the left wing of the spacecraft.
[B] The deliberate rejection of satellite images.
[C] A sense of sentiment and arrogance involved.
[D] The space agency's inaction during its mission.
34.As mentioned in the text, the Wednesday's hearing revolved around
[A] the precise capabilities of spy satellites in orbit.
[B] NASA's indecisions against checking upon the Columbia.
[C] NASA's rejection of satellite images offered.
[D] the coordination between NASA and military offices.
35.Which of the following can best describe Gehman's attitude towards satellite images?