The National Aeronautics and Space Administration knew about the problem aboard the space shuttle Columbia and did not notify the crew according to a NASA official, cited Thursday by the American Broadcasting Company in a special investigation to mark the 10th anniversary of its disintegration upon re-entry. The flight carried Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut.
Wayne Hale, who later became manager of the space shuttle program, recently wrote on his blog that Flight Direct John Harpold told him, "You know there is nothing we can do about damage to the TPS (Thermal Protection System). If it has been damaged it's probably better not to know. I think the crew would rather not know. Don't you think it would be better for them to have a happy successful flight and die unexpectedly during entry than to stay on orbit, knowing that there was nothing to be done, until the air ran out?"