Research and Preservation Office

The Columbia Research and Preservation area is a nearly 7,000-square-foot room located on the 16th floor of the “A” Tower of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center. The room contains over 80,000 pieces, weighing in at about 80,000 pounds, representing approximately 40 percent of Columbia’s dry weight that was brought home to Kennedy Space Center.

The Columbia Research and Preservation Office (CR&P Office) is led by Michael Ciannilli and supported by Billy Heidtman. Michael Ciannilli serves as the Project Manager of the Columbia Research and Preservation Office and as the Project Manager of the Space Shuttle Challenger Office. CR&P Office performs all the activities related to the research, recovery and preservation of Columbia debris. The office seeks to simplify research and location of debris items, prevent further damage to debris while in storage, make the database as accurate and comprehensive as possible, receive, evaluate, document, inventory, store, ship and track all Columbia debris hardware whether located at Kennedy Space Center or elsewhere. Tasks involved with these goals are:

  • Locate previously received debris into respective location;
  • Ensure that all debris is physically located according to the database;
  • Receive debris from the field, JSC or other sites to which debris has been loaned; log these parts into the database and pack and place them according to system/sub-system and/or orbiter location;
  • Receive and fulfill requests for loans, which require the group to photograph, document, pack, and ship the requested debris pieces.

Just as significant as organization and storage of the debris, is the office’s aid in the advancement of safety, reliability, and maintenance of future missions. Extensive research and analysis has been and will continue to be conducted on Columbia debris by United Space Alliance, NASA, and other organizations and groups.

The CR&P Office uses a database that was developed for use by the Columbia Reconstruction Team in the KSC Shuttle Landing Facility (RLV) Hangar during the Columbia recovery effort performed in 2003. This database called the Columbia Reconstruction Database System or CRDS is an extensive database and includes the recovered location (lat/long), photos and engineering descriptions of all Columbia debris received starting in February 2003 to the present.

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Research and Preservation Office