New NASA site withstands barrage

NASA home page

NASA launched a revamped version of its Web site at midnight Feb. 1, just nine hours before the high-altitude disintegration of space shuttle Columbia.

Without the upgrades, the popular site (www.nasa.gov) would been overwhelmed by the sudden spike in traffic from visitors seeking news about the shuttle's breakup, said Brian Dunbar, the agency's Internet services manager.

The NASA site, whose system and design dated to 1997, had been running on one server, housed in the basement of the agency's headquarters. AT&T is hosting it now.

"It would have been extremely difficult for anyone to get to us," Dunbar said. "It was an accident of timing."

The redesign had been in the works since the summer as part of NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe's goal to inspire the next generation of space explorers by making the agency's images and stories more accessible.

Following the loss of communication with Columbia, NASA put plain-text information about the breakup in front of its home page, which is now back up. Some visitors may have experienced trouble getting on the site, but it was not overloaded, Dunbar said.

Profiles of the seven crew members who were on-board the shuttle and updates on the investigation are among the information posted online.

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