NASA Space Shuttle’s Return to Flight: The Untold Electromagnetic Backstory

The 2003 Columbia re-entry accident was caused by a piece of liberated external tank foam that struck and damaged the left leading edge during powered ascent. Computational and experimental electromagnetics were ultimately applied to foster the development of a new NASA Ascent Debris Radar (NDR) for the remaining 22 Shuttle missions. In the process, countless static and dynamic radar signature and EMI/EMC calculations and tests were completed to assure this safety-critical radar system was ready for the return to flight (RTF) missions.