Shuttle Columbia Investigation: Report Released

Discussion Questions

Aired August 27, 2003

After months of investigation, a report is released about what caused space shuttle Columbia to break up during its re-entry to Earth's atmosphere on February 1, 2003, killing seven astronauts. According to the report, a bureaucratic NASA culture compromised by lax safety standards, slipshod management and dwindling funds was as much to blame as the chunk of foam that hit the shuttle soon after it launched.

1. What happened to the space shuttle Columbia when it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on February 1, 2003? What is NASA? How did NASA respond to the Columbia accident?

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2. According to NASA's recently released report, what factors contributed to the Columbia accident? Why did concerns by lower-level NASA engineers never make it to upper management?

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TODAY'S SHOW

3. How has NASA responded to the report's findings? What do you think NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe meant when he said, "We have to...exercise an overabundance of diligence" during the next shuttle launch?

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4. Based on the information in the video and what you know about NASA, what action do you think NASA administrators should take to improve the organization's culture?

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Related Links

CNN.com: Panel criticizes NASA culture for shuttle loss (http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/space/08/26/sprj.colu.shuttle.report/index.html)

CNN.com Special: Lost: Space Shuttle Columbia (http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2003/shuttle/)

CNNstudentnews.com: Shuttle investigators look for answers (http://www2.cnn.com/2003/fyi/news/02/03/columbia.investigation/)

NASA: Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report (http://www.nasa.gov/columbia/home/index.html)

Keywords

space shuttle Columbia, disintegrate, NASA, investigation, human nature, diligence


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