The space shuttle Columbia's loss particularly touched a handful of employees of General Tool Co. in Reading Saturday.
The high-tech metal-cutting company employs about 250 and produces components used on the shuttle's launch fuel tanks and fixtures used to make the huge fuel tanks themselves.
"Oh, my goodness,'' Jim Stewart, General Tool quality manager, said when a friend called him about 10 a.m. to tell him of the tragedy. He said he immediately flashed back to the Challenger explosion in 1986.
A number of Cincinnati-area companies have done work for NASA in the past.
For example, Metcut Research Associates, an Oakley metal testing lab and a sister company, Cincinnati Testing Laboratories, which does composite testing, have done testing work for NASA.
John P. Kahles, Metcut president, said he didn't have data Saturday on its current NASA projects.
"A lot of the time we do testing for them, and we have no idea what it's for. We just provide the data,'' he said.
CTL Aerospace, a West Chester maker of composite structures, also has done work for NASA in the past, but has no current contracts, James C. Irwin, company president, said.
- Mike Boyer
(Complete Columbia coverage at Cincinnati.com)
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