NASA's Dittemore to resign as shuttle chief, report says

April 20, 2003|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

Ron Dittemore, director of NASA's space shuttle program, is expected to resign as early as this week and move to a new job in private industry, a government source said yesterday.

Immediately after the Columbia loss Feb. 1, Dittemore took the lead role in explaining what the National Aeronautics and Space Administration knew before the accident and whether there was anything it could have done to prevent it.

Dittemore said in the days after the accident, which killed seven astronauts, that he did not believe foam debris falling off the shuttle's external tank could have caused the tragedy.

Such an event now represents the leading theory of what happened. Dittemore, 51, has not been faulted publicly for his role in the program or the Columbia mission by members of Congress, the space agency leadership or independent investigators.

Nonetheless, his departure does not come as a complete surprise.

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