NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe today announced the
appointment of three additional members to the task group
assigned to perform an independent assessment of the agency’s
implementation of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board’s

The new voting members of the Stafford-Covey Task Group
include an astronaut who helped restore the Hubble Space
Telescope in 1993, a member of one of the first expeditions to
the International Space Station, and an expert in the field of
military mission operations.

“I’ve asked both General Stafford and Dick Covey to continue
to seek out the best and brightest minds to assist them and
the entire group with their important assessment objectives,”
said Administrator O’Keefe. “I am confident that this
distinguished panel, with its rich and diverse experience
base, will help give our Return to Flight efforts focus and
keep us on track.”

Joining the group is Dr. Kathryn C. Thornton, a former
astronaut who today is a physicist on the faulty of the
University of Virginia. A veteran of three Space Shuttle
flights, she helped repair a satellite in space as part of the
maiden flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. During STS-61 in
1993, she was a vital member of the spacewalking team that
captured and repaired the crippled Hubble Space Telescope.

U.S. Air Force Colonel Susan J. Helms, Chief of the Space
Control Division, Requirements Directorate at Air Force Space
Command, joins Thornton. She was a member of five Space
Shuttle crews and served in a variety of roles, including
mission specialist, flight engineer, and payload commander.
Helms also spent a total of 163 days living and working aboard
the International Space Station as part of the Expedition 2

Rounding out these latest appointments is Christine H. Fox,
Vice President and Director the Operations Evaluation Group at
the Center for Naval Analyses, a federally funded research and
development center based in Alexandria, Va. Fox has spent her
career as a systems analyst, assisting complex organizations
like the Defense Department assess challenges and define

“To effectively fulfill our charter, task group membership
must include multifold perspectives and experience,” said
Richard O. Covey, co-chairman of the task group. “Today’s
appointments of Ms. Fox, Col. Helms, and Dr. Thornton,
significantly enhance our capabilities by bringing to the task
group additional expertise in the area of operations.”

Today’s appointments bring to 30 the total number of task
group members from industry, academia, and government. The
members are divided among three panels established to look at
the management, technical and operational aspects of NASA’s
return to flight effort. The members include 29 voting
members from outside of the agency and one NASA non-voting ex
officio member.

The task group, chartered by the NASA Administrator, is co-
chaired by Covey and retired Air Force Lieutenant General and
former Gemini and Apollo astronaut Thomas P. Stafford.

Additional information about the Stafford-Covey Task Group and
NASA’s Return to Flight effort is available in the Internet