Columbia Review to Produce Scathing Critique; Probe Details Mechanical Failures, Management Flaws

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 25, 2003 | Go to article overview

Columbia Review to Produce Scathing Critique; Probe Details Mechanical Failures, Management Flaws


Byline: William Glanz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Investigators will conclude their inquiry into the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegration tomorrow when they issue an exhaustive review of NASA's shuttle program and a scathing critique of agency officials.

The long-awaited report from the Columbia Accident Investigation Board will provide much more than an explanation of the mechanical issues behind the Feb. 1 breakup of the space shuttle and the deaths of the seven astronauts aboard.

Investigators have outlined in detail the mechanical failures that led to Columbia's fiery disintegration during re-entry. They know a piece of foam insulation dropped from the external fuel tank almost 82 seconds after launch Jan. 16 and pierced a hole in the shuttle's left wing that let scorching gases penetrate Columbia.

But near the end of the inquiry, the head of the accident investigation board said management errors at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration were as responsible as mechanical problems for causing the Columbia disaster.

About half of the report will delve into the management issues that contributed to the accident, which occurred on NASA's 113th shuttle mission.

"Absolutely it's going to say NASA is not organized to [operate the shuttle program], and it needs to restructure completely," said Mike Wiskerchen, associate director of the Space Institute at the University of California and a former NASA scientist who was a member of the team charged with improving shuttle safety after the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.

The 250-page report is the product of nearly seven months of work by the 13-member independent panel. They interviewed more than 200 people, relied on the findings of 120 investigators and sifted through more than 30,000 documents, said Laura Brown, spokeswoman for the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

The longest chapter in the landmark report will be a 37-page section on NASA's handling of e-mails. NASA engineers warned in e-mails about potential damage to carbon panels along the leading edge of Columbia's left wing from the foam that hit the shuttle. In other e-mails, written as late as the day before the shuttle's return, engineers warned that Columbia could have difficulty landing because of damage during liftoff.

A Jan. 27 e-mail suggested NASA officials ask the Defense Department to photograph Columbia with a spy satellite to help diagnose the extent of damage to its left wing.

NASA engineer Rodney Rocha pursued a similar request, and he sent an e-mail to colleagues Jan. 21 that said "without better images it will be difficult to even bound the problem."

Top NASA officials have said they never saw the e-mails, and lawmakers have criticized the space agency for the way warnings and requests from lower-level engineers were handled.

Investigators have uncovered other examples of communication breakdowns.

Linda Ham, chairman of the mission management team at Johnson Space Center, said July 22 that she heard informally about requests for images of Columbia. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Columbia Review to Produce Scathing Critique; Probe Details Mechanical Failures, Management Flaws
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.