Sunday, February 2, 2003

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

Tristaters shocked, seek answers
Terrace Park man loses friend on Columbia
Tristate Jews stunned by Israeli's death
India natives offer special prayers
KIESEWETTER: Another tragedy unfolds on TV
PULFER: Flight: a routine miracle
Enquirer seeking local connections
Disaster evokes Challenger image at Wright-Pat
School superintendent's hometown in debris path
Local woman witnessed 'perfect' launch
Ohio astronaut: `Oh, my God'
List of Ohio astronauts
Space program must go on, scientists say
DeWine: NASA funding will be rexamined
Reading firm makes shuttle fuel tanks

Archived video & special coverage from WCPO

Did NASA underestimate left-wing damage?
Body parts reportedly found
Columbia, crew of 7 lost
Families' pride turns to anguish
Texans saw trails in sky, heard booms
Final words: Astronauts gave no warning of disaster
Americans gasp, cry at news
Americans have taken space flights for granted
Bush consoles shuttle families, country
Text of Bush's remarks
Terrorism ruled out
Crew biographies: First Israeli aboard
Independent board to investigate
Landings were early safety concern
Challenger explosion recalled
Painful memories for teacher's hometown
Deadly accidents in space exploration
Former astronauts search for explanation
Space station crew won't be stranded
Timeline of Columbia flight
Columbia was NASA's oldest shuttle
Key dates in space program
New NASA administrator faces big task