Saturday, January 24, 2004 - NASA docks contractor $45.2 million for Columbia - NASA docks contractor $45.2 million for Columbia: NASA penalized the contractor that maintains and operates the space shuttle fleet $45.2 million for its role in the shuttle Columbia accident, according to a letter NASA released Thursday.

The United Space Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, had to forfeit the money even though NASA said the contractor did nothing specific to cause the accident.

But a letter from a NASA official said the contractor was "an integral member" of the "team that reached flawed conclusions about the relative safety of Columbia and crew before and during the flight." The letter from NASA deputy associate administrator Michael Kostelnik was sent Jan. 7 to United Space Alliance president Michael McCulley, a former astronaut.

The contract spells out performance bonuses based on safety, cost-effectiveness and other factors. For Oct. 1, 2002, through March 31, 2003, the alliance was eligible for $81.2 million in bonuses. Kostelnik's letter said the alliance will get only $36 million because there were two successful shuttle missions in the same period as the accident. The result is a penalty of $45.2 million."

jaynote: WTF??? why are they getting ANY safety related bonus??? The CAIB report showed that the SAME foam loss that happened on the Columbia flight happened on the previous filghts, thus by definition they were NOT sucessful from a safety standpoint. Heck, ALL previously awarded safety related bonuses should be refunded....

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