March 9, 1996 in Nation/World

Nasa Ignores Computer Problem

Compiled From Wire Services

NASA officials set aside one of their own flight rules Friday, keeping the space shuttle Columbia aloft an additional day despite a failure in one of the vehicle’s four flight control computers.

Columbia was scheduled to land at 4:24 a.m. PST today at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, relying on three backup computers to control its wing flaps, rudder and brake system.

Under National Aeronautics and Space Administration flight rules, the failure of one computer is supposed to require a landing as soon as possible, but in a controversial decision NASA officials waived that rule Friday.

Weather conditions did not permit a landing at Kennedy on Friday. A landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California would have cost the budget-strapped agency about $1 million.

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