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$87.7 million claim filed over Columbia loss

Spacehab  filed an $87.7 million formal claim against NASA Tuesday for equipment destroyed in the Columbia disaster.
A photo taken during the preparations for Columbia's last flight shows the Spacehab research module nestled within the space shuttle's cargo bay.
A photo taken during the preparations for Columbia's last flight shows the Spacehab research module nestled within the space shuttle's cargo bay.NASA file
/ Source: Reuters

Spacehab, a maker of onboard research modules for the space shuttle, filed an $87.7 million formal claim against NASA Tuesday for equipment destroyed in the Columbia disaster.

It is the largest equipment-related claim to date for the space agency.

Spacehab, which had filed a draft claim in July, said the newest claim incorporated the findings of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board report released in August. The company is seeking compensation for its research module and related gear destroyed during last February’s loss of the space shuttle.

The investigative board said NASA officials missed eight chances to address concerns that falling insulation foam may have damaged the shuttle, which broke apart over Texas last Feb. 1, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

The foam that tumbled from the ship’s external fuel tank just after takeoff was ultimately found to be the accident’s likely cause.

The Houston-based company, which also trains astronauts, said its contract with NASA included a provision that accounted for loss or damage to its flight hardware up to $8 million. Spacehab’s final claim also included millions of dollars for ”losses in addition to those contractually specified.”

NASA’s legal office had reviewed and rejected Spacehab’s earlier claim and will take the newest one under advisement, spokesman Doc Mirelson said in an e-mail to Reuters.

Mirelson said Spacehab had claimed about $50 million in its original inquiry, while Spacehab said its earlier claim had been $87 million. The most recent claim is for $58 million, according to NASA.

Spacehab representative Kimberly Campbell and NASA’s Mirelson were not able to provide explanations for the claim discrepancies. Despite the differences, it is the largest claim against NASA related to equipment loss to date, Mirelson said.