Wednesday, August 27, 2003

The Report is Out - NASA's Broken Safety Culture

NASA's Underlying Woes: Fading Support and Science

Those two problems -- a slow starvation of public support and a failure within NASA to maintain its scientific attitude and edge -- dragged NASA down for a decade or more, the report found, and ultimately pulled Columbia to its fiery end.

Failings as transcendent as those will require not just technical fixes but profound changes in expectations and behaviors within the space agency, the White House and both chambers of Congress -- and among the millions of citizens they represent, who may feel the primal tug of the stars but who, over the years, have asked more and more of the U.S. space program even as they offered it less and less.

Report Blames Flawed NASA Culture for Tragedy

The shuttle Columbia and a crew of seven were lost on Feb. 1 because NASA, for the second time in its recent history, allowed its engineering to grow careless, its safety system to wither, its communications to become muddled and prudent professional curiosity to become stunted.

NYTimes - Inertia and Indecision at NASA

The bitter bottom line of the Columbia disaster comes down to this: NASA never absorbed the lessons of the Challenger explosion in 1986, and four successive American presidents never decided where America's space program should head after the cold war — and what it would cost in dollars and risk to human life to get there.

Those were the brutal conclusions of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, issued yesterday six and a half months after a sunny Saturday morning when Americans awoke to the horror of another space shuttle disintegrating in the sky. What is striking in the 248-page report, however, is how little had changed in the 17 years between the disasters.

Columbia accident board casts wide net of blame

The Houston Chronicle underplays the story. You cannot find it on the front page of its website, the "top stories." You have to know to go to their Space section.

"NASA had conflicting goals of cost, schedule and safety," said U.S. Air Force Gen. John Barry, the Columbia board's executive director. "Unfortunately, safety lost."

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