Free Essay

Space Shuttle Disaster

In: Business and Management

Submitted By satangsusu
Words 613
Pages 3
On the 1st February 2003, a critical systems failure on the space shuttle Columbia on its re-entry to the earth’s atmosphere. This caused the disintegration of the shuttle leading to the death of all seven crew members.

1. Describe NASA's apparent approach to risk management after Challenger but before Columbia.

On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger broke apart in 76 seconds after launch, killing all of its 7 crew members. On the day of launch engineers were concerned that the temperature was too low to launch (-2.2 C lowest launch temperatures recorded) and that there was too much ice on the shuttle. O-rings would not perform correctly at this temperature. NASA management was told of this issue but it was deemed an acceptable risk and launch went ahead. After the incident, a new safety office was created to allow better communication and risk assessment. NASA’s apparent approach to risk management at this time was probable risk management1. For the space shuttle, linear analysis might be sufficient between probability, impact, and frequency2, with probability addressing how likely the risk event or condition is to occur, impact detailing the extent of what could happen if the risk materialized, and frequency meaning likelihood of occurrence of an event whose values lie between zero and one.

2. What additional risk measures would you recommend to NASA? Justify your recommendations?

Firstly, NASA may need to change the organizational attitude to approach to risks. They are more preoccupied with success by asking “Prove that it is unsafe” rather than being preoccupied with failure by asking “Prove that it is safe.” This kind of optimistic approach to risks is very dangerous because some risk with low probability and medium level of consequence might be overlooked. Secondly, NASA may need to concern the risk from management level. Even though this risk is not directly related to the risk impact, it can be very dangerous due to several reasons; Lack of technical knowledge from higher management level, Overconfidence, Position or job pressure to make the timeline, and low budget.

3. What lessons learned are common between the Columbia Disaster and the Challenger Disaster?

a. Communication Failure within the reporting structure: For both cases, engineers reported problems to their intermediate managers and this was supposed to be reported to the top-level management group to decide either launch or delay after engineers found technical faults. However, it didn’t happen.
b. Risks can very complex: Many variables such as weather, weight, speed, and dimensions are involved in the risk function. More study on risk needs to be developed and managers must recognize the risk management concepts as complex impact functions.

4. If these are common lessons learned, why weren't they sufficient to prevent the Columbia Disaster?

NASA’s optimistic culture and overconfidence of management made it difficult to look at failure or even acknowledge that it was a possibility. Failure was not an option for them even they had experienced. Management tended to wait for dissent rather than seek it, which was likely to shut off reports of failure and other tendencies to speak up. Furthermore, because NASA’s “can-do” bureaucracy was preoccupied with success, it was even more difficult for people to bring up possible issues. Secondly, safety had never been number one priority due to many aspects NASA had faced; sever time schedule pressure, budgetary constraints, personnel downsizing, communication problems within the hierarchy, and so forth. Lastly, at the organizational level, NASA was a very complex organization that maintained strict reporting systems, which constrained information flow to defined channels of communication. Especially, NASA’s structure did not facilitate fast information flow concerning unexpected events or possible critical issues.…...

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Space Shuttle Challenger

...Space Shuttle Challenger Case I have read and studied the Space Shutter Challenger Case thoroughly and I believe that the most important failure of the case study was due to many factors which include personality, communication and motivation among the members of the group. In terms of personality, I believe the part of the failure was due to the mix of strong and weak personalities among the group. The stronger personalities which included Mason and Wiggins used direct pressure to influence Lund in to agreeing with their decision. Mason told Lund to take off his engineering hat and to put on his management hat. I believe that Mason and Wiggins used their strong and domineering personalities to influence Lund. This is a contributing factor to the failure of the space shuttle launch. Another aspect of the failure of the case is due to the poor communication between the Thiokol engineers and management. The Thiokol engineers had expressed their concerns to management about the reliability of the O-Rings being used on the space shuttles but a review committee concluded that they were safe to use and if a problem did arise there were secondary O-rings in place. In the flights leading up to the challengers departure, there was evidence that there were serious problems with the O-rings. On the eve of the launch, the weather forecast was unusually cold for Florida weather, with temperatures in the low twenty’s. Thiokol expressed concern that the O-rings would not work properly...

Words: 662 - Pages: 3

Free Essay


...Space is the final frontier 1. space: -outer space = region beyond earth 2. final: -last, ultimate, no more frontier beyond this 3. frontier: -an outer limit, especially one in which the opportunities for research and development have not been exploited 4. History of space exploration: simple overview of western countries – includes China’s endeavors – 5. Can space be considered an unexplored region if… a. man has been observing the sky since before recorded history? b. man has been thinking of exploring it since the 17th century?啟動螢幕閱讀器 共用設定 • yuanshangkwong c. the first man-made vehicle flew 100 km outside earth in 1942? d. the first human space flight in 1961? e. the Voyager I and II space craft were launched? f. man put a space station into orbit? g. even ordinary people like singer Sarah Brightman can pay to fly into space? h. we can be buried in space? 6. Consider: -What do we know about space? -What don’t we know about it? -Is it our next or our final frontier? -Is Antarctica the final frontier? Are the oceans our final frontier? Is the earth’s core our final frontier? Is time our final frontier? Is death our final frontier? I don’t think the opposition needs to say what is the final frontier, only that space isn’t. Negative side arguments 1st speaker 1) Definition on final, frontier, tangible or intangible......

Words: 1482 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay


...HOW America feel about Space Exploration Research Methods SS3150 May 08, 2013 How America feel about Space Exploration The space exploration has been a huge program for research and human knowledge. It has brought so many concerns, questions and suggestions which has engaged and, affected American’s in their everyday lives. Some of the research questions that I came up with which are appropriate for qualitative research are for example first, how does the earth interact with the neighboring planets? Second, how does space exploration help in securing our planet? And the third question is how does the exploration improve our lives economically? The explanation as to why these three questions are appropriate for qualitative research is that for one, the question of how does the earth interact with the neighboring planets, is a question which does not require any thought of numbers when answering because, one can simply answer that the earth interacts with the neighboring planets by how they all get the light from the sun. The target population on this question can be young or old and questionnaires would be the best sample to the participants for this research. The second question on how does space exploration help in securing our planet is also appropriate for qualitative research and, it shows or it can bring suggestions for example, that the technology used in space exploration is very highly advanced and that people feel safe because it sends signals of anything......

Words: 541 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster

...Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster happened on February 1st, 2003, which broke on the way back to the Earth. All the astronauts, including two women died in this disaster. The reason why this disaster happened was a piece of foam insulation broke off from the Space Shuttle external tank which damaged the left wing of the shuttle. Even though some engineers of NASA had doubted that the left wing of shuttle had been damaged, the administration staffs restricted to do advanced research. The engineers of NASA found that the foam shedding and debris strikes could not be avoided and solved, even though the previous design of space shuttle required that the external tank was not to shed foam or other debris. However, this situation was not account for security threat and regarded as the acceptable risk. Thus, the launch was given the go-head. Due to the broken left wing which caused the damage of Space Shuttle thermal protection system, hot gases penetrated and destroyed the internal wing structure which led to the disintegrate of the shuttle immediately over the area of south Dallas. Ignore the Feedback Control Even though the similar situation happened in the prior mission (in the 13th and 16th mission of Columbia, the foam went undetected as well), the administration department of NASA were getting used to those situation which did not cause the serious damage to the shuttle that led to the disaster of the 28th mission of Columbia. Just like...

Words: 752 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Challenger Disaster

...Challenger case study analysis Facts 1. Space shuttle challenger disaster leads to the death of its crew members 7. 2. NASA’S organizational culture and decision making process is a key contributing factor of the accident. 3. NASA managers had known contractor Morton Thiokol’s design of the SRB contained a potentially catastrophic flaw in the o-rings since 1977. 4. NASA disregarded warnings from engineers about the dangers of launching posted by the low temperature of that morning. 5. The ROGER”S commission offered NASA 9 recommendations that were to be implemented before shuttle flight resumed. 6. The o-rings had no test data to support any expectation of successful launch in such conditions. 7. Challenger was originally set to launch from Kennedy space center in Florida at 2:42 EST Jan 22. 8. Launch was delayed 1st to Jan 23 then 2nd to Jan 24, 3rd to Jan 25 due the bad weather at the TAL site in Senegal. NASA decided to use Casablanca as TAL site but it wasn’t equipped for night landings so they had to move it to the morning to Florida. 4th to Jan 27 9:37 as of unaccepted weather at Kennedy space center and5th to Jan 28 as by problems with the exterior access hatch. 9. Delayed 5 times shows lack of good decision making and management of NASA’s managers. 10. Morton Thiokol is the contractor responsible for the construction and maintenance of the shuttle’s SRBs. 11. Rockwell international is the shuttle’s prime contractor. ...

Words: 1586 - Pages: 7

Free Essay

The Flying Shuttle

...The Flying Shuttle The industrial revolution was a turning point for new inventions. People were finding ways to make life easier, by using machinery. A huge turning point for the industrial revolution was in cloth weaving. But cloth weaving could get difficult for people, for that they could only weave clothes and such only to the length of the weavers armspan. But one man, John Kay created this little device that was given man the power to weave wider cloths and at a faster rate (The “Flying Shuttle” 1). The device that John kay Invented is called the “Flying Shuttle.” The newly invented shuttle could be thrown across the weaving bed by a lever pulled by a single person. Originally if a designer wanted a wider cloth, it would have to be thrown and weaved by two or more people (Flying Shuttle 1). How John Kay came up with this creation is because when he was a kid, he worked in his fathers wool manufacturing mills, and soon became the manager for one of these mills. In May 1733, the Flying Shuttle was patented for use (The “Flying Shuttle” 2). Angered by the new competition, weavers wrecked Kay’s house, and destroyed his weaving machines, also known as a “Loom.” Costs of operating this new machine halved labor costs so this brought in great curiosity from other industries as well. People were quick to adopt Kay’s new invention (The “ Flying Shuttle” 2). This invention brought up a new way for mechanical looms, but in about thirty years, a power loom would be......

Words: 694 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Space Shuttle

...The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger (mission STS-51-L) broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida at 11:38 EST (16:38 UTC). Disintegration of the vehicle began after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed at liftoff. The O-ring failure caused a breach in the SRB joint it sealed, allowing pressurized hot gas from within the solid rocket motor to reach the outside and impinge upon the adjacent SRB attachment hardware and external fuel tank. This led to the separation of the right-hand SRB's aft attachment and the structural failure of the external tank. Aerodynamic forces broke up the orbiter. The crew compartment and many other vehicle fragments were eventually recovered from the ocean floor after a lengthy search and recovery operation. The exact timing of the death of the crew is unknown; several crew members are known to have survived the initial breakup of the spacecraft. The shuttle had no escape system, and the impact of the crew compartment with the ocean surface was too violent to be survivable. The disaster resulted in a 32-month hiatus in the shuttle program and the formation of the Rogers Commission, a special commission appointed byUnited States President Ronald Reagan to investigate the accident. The Rogers Commission......

Words: 2145 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Columbia Space Shuttle Mission Simulation Paper

...Columbia Space Shuttle Simulation (LINDA HAM) 1. How would you characterize the culture of NASA? What are its strengths and weaknesses? NASA was created in 1958 to give the United States of America a position in the “space race” after the Soviet Union launched the satellite “Sputnik” into orbit. The goal of NASA was to put a man into orbit before any other country and shortly after that was completed, the new goal was to put a man on the moon. NASA gained recognition from all over the world for it’s success in space exploration but soon, the pressure from the government caused changes would lead to major problems. Culture can be defined as, “a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization.” During the time of the Columbia Mission I believe NASA’s culture was very static meaning it hadn’t changed in a long time. NASA’s culture focused on major values such as, safety, schedule efficiency, integrity, and communication. But out of these values, schedule efficiency took precedence over the others, which led to disaster. There are many strengths and weaknesses of NASA’s culture but the weaknesses caused the organization to become counterproductive in the long run. The strengths of NASA’s culture are that the organization has a very “can-do” attitude when it comes to task achievement, they have a legacy of excellence and technological advancement, the organization is bureaucratic, and there is a strong sense of pride and teamwork at NASA. There...

Words: 3056 - Pages: 13

Premium Essay

Challenger Disaster

...Classification System, which was a qualitative system rather than a quantitative system. This was due to the high cost associated with gathering enough data to be able to use a quantitative system. A quantitative system would also have created additional paperwork due to the technical requirements for a space shuttle. However, a quantitative system should have been developed and utilized. The risk classification system NASA used consisted of five levels, as seen below. 8. What was NASA’s risk response plan? NASA was able to transfer and reduce some of its risk, however, due to the scope of the program, they were also forced to retain some of the risk. One key aspect to this approach to risk response is the need for a solid control plan. NASA did not have a complete control plan, which cased a lot of issues as the shuttle development program progressed. They did use their risk classification system (as discussed in question 7) and waivers (as discussed in question 11) as part of their risk response plan, but it wasn’t nearly as developed as it should have been. 9. How should they have handled risks that weren’t quantified? As NASA conducted more and more space flights, they were gathering data that could have been used in future flights to quantify their decisions. By performing quantitative risk management, NASA would have gained valuable information to support decision making in order to reduce project uncertainty. Instead, they maintained their......

Words: 1112 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Hotel in Space

...behind in the growing space tourism industry. Russian firms unveiled their plans at the country's premiere air show this week at Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, saying the race was on to build a new craft to take people into space following the retirement of NASA's space shuttle in April. RKK Energia unveiled plans for a replacement shuttle and Orbital Technologies said it hoped to build an orbiting hotel with room for seven guests by 2016. Other plans include flying tourists to the dark side of the moon and, by 2030, to Mars. "Space tourism is a real and fast-growing business," said Sergei Kostenko, head of Russian firm Orbital Technologies, said at the MAKS air show. "Whoever builds the first new spaceship now will reap big dividends." Although Russia currently holds a monopoly on rides to space aboard its Soviet-designed Soyuz, it starts at a disadvantage. Foreign experts say they doubt Russian firms can achieve their ambitious goals because they lack funding and even Russian officials said it would be hard to rival U.S. private sector firms now competing for contracts with NASA. Funding for the U.S. space program is much higher and NASA is expected to forge ahead with building a new generation of craft capable of traveling into deep space, with flights into low Earth orbit outsourced to private firms. "The U.S. has more possibilities than us right now," said Alexander Derechin, deputy chief designer for Russia's partly state-owned space contractor RKK......

Words: 781 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

The Columbia Disaster

...English 101: College Composition 14 May 2015 The Columbia STS-107 Disaster: Why Did It Happen and Why Wasn’t It Prevented? At 9 a.m. on February 1st 2003 NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Space Shuttle, Columbia STS-107 disintegrated over the southern United States upon re-entry. There was some controversy surrounded this disaster, mainly how the Mission Management Team (MMT) (leader, Linda Ham handled the entire situation. Could this disaster been prevented? NASA could have prevented the issue with all the new age technology that they posses. How are teams like Debris Assessment Team (DAT) and MMT prepared now to take action against problems that arise in the future? This disaster should not have occurred but it did, why did it? Who is responsible? Will it happen again? If more time was spend of trying to rectify the issue before it got out of hand, maybe the crew of the Columbia would have landed safely as it was supposed to. The space shuttle Columbia STS-107 launched on January 16, 2003 from Kennedy Space Center. During the launch a briefcase-size chunk of foam insulation fell away from a bi-pod ramp on the ships external tank 81.7 seconds after liftoff (Harwood). The foam chunk with velocity smashed a hole in one of the protective shields panels that make up the left wing leading edge. Photos and video shows this happening very clearly. What you cannot see is where the foam actually hit. The only thing that is visible is when the foam......

Words: 1942 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay


...There are two types of disasters: Natural and Manmade or Human Induced Disasters. Disasters that occur due to abrupt changes in the earth systems and weather conditions are called as natural disasters. These disasters have further been classified into – Planetary and Extra-Planetary Disasters. Disasters that occur on land and in atmosphere due to changes in earth systems or the geological conditions and atmosphere are called as Planetary Disasters. These disasters have further been classified into – Terrestrial and Atmospheric disasters. Disasters that remain confined to land and bottoms of oceans are called as terrestrial disasters. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides and mine disasters are some examples of terrestrial disasters. Atmospheric disasters are caused due to atmospheric events. Tropical cyclones, droughts, floods etc. are some examples of atmospheric disasters. Disasters occurring due to collisions between the earth and space bodies or due to physical forces between them are called as extra-planetary disasters. High tide waves, hurricanes, landslides, movements of rocks, changes in sea level, biological extinctions etc. are examples of extra- planetary disasters. Disasters that are caused due to human intervention in the natural processes or due to his activities related to development and war are called as man- made disasters. Occurrence of epidemics, nuclear hazards, industrial accidents, biological war fares, bioterrorism etc. are......

Words: 1273 - Pages: 6

Free Essay


...I. Introduction: The purpose of this paper is an overview about the current space tourism industry with advanced developments of space vehicles. Until now, seven tourists have ridden Soyuz spacecraft, a Russian spacecraft, to the International Space Station. Capturing the potential demand of space tourism, many private companies began to introduce their new and well-designed spacecraft promising to enable tourist to travel to space. From now to the next couple of years, we are expected to see many launches including testing and commercial flights into suborbital and low Earth orbit. There are also some private companies, who were awarded by NASA for their space programs to carry astronauts to the space station. II. Virgin Galactic – Scaled Composites (Suborbital): Virgin Galactic – Scaled Composites founded by Burt Rutan designed a unique type of spacecraft. Using a mothership aircraft, the space plane will be carried to midair and then be released to launch toward the edge of the atmosphere. Using carbon composite construction, the company has introduced two version of the space plane: SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo along with two model of the mothership aircraft: WhiteKnightOne and WhiteKnightTwo. (Ref 1,3) A. Spaceship: a. SpaceshipOne – WhiteKnightOne: Scaled Composites first launched the SpaceShipOne to the suborbital in 2004 while the first of WhiteKnightOne was in 2002. Overall, the WhiteKnightOne’s features are carriage and launch of payloads up to 7...

Words: 4161 - Pages: 17

Free Essay

Space Shuttle Safety335

...The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster was the largest tragedy that had ever occurred in space travel history. The disaster occurred on January 28, 1986. Seventy-two seconds in flight, the shuttle blew up and bursted into pieces. All seven crewmembers on board died either at explosion or water impact. Most people in their teens and older when this tragedy occur, still remember when and where they were…for me it was 8th grade math class and we had it on television. It was a huge deal because the first female school teacher was onboard. The commission found that the Challenger accident was caused by a failure in the O-rings sealing on the right booster rocket housing. This caused hot gases from the pressurization to blow out, or snap the O-ring. (Wikepedia, n.d.) With the O-ring failure, this caused structural failure. On the day of the launch, it was delayed over six hours due to cold weather. This was addressed prior to launch, but it seemed that everyone ignored this vital piece of intelligence. Cold temperatures affect O-rings in every bit of aviation. In the P-3 if the weather is below freezing, a hot start shall be used so O-ring seals won’t split in the propeller which would cause hydraulic fluid leaks in the prop. The key factor besides the O-ring was the supervision and safety councils who oversaw this launch. The night prior to the launch, a meeting was held to discuss scenerios to delay the launch the following day. No one was in attendance from......

Words: 344 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Space Travel

...used in helping mankind to get as far as they have with understanding physics. Space travel is possible because of the theories that Newton provided us with and you can see that in the movie Apollo 13, which retells a story of three astronauts who use mainly the laws of physics to get back to Earth after their space shuttle is damaged from an explosion. In the following paragraphs I will provide some examples from the movie of Newton’s first law, third law and his law of universal gravitation. Newton’s first law otherwise known as the law of inertia, states that an object at rest will continue to stay at rest and an object in motion will continue to stay in motion unless acted on my an external force. This law is shown throughout the entire movie when the space ship is in outer space. Due to the lack of gravity outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, the space craft moves in uniform motion in the same direction unless acted on by another force such as meteors or the rocket boosters. The third law that Isaac Newton produced states that for every action force there is an equal and opposite reaction force. An example to represent this law can be seen when the astronauts use the rocket engines to shoot out gas molecules. These gas molecules are shot out of the back of their shuttle and as stated by Newton’s law, their must be an equal and opposite reaction force which is used to accelerate the space shuttle. Another one of Newton’s laws states that any two objects in the......

Words: 563 - Pages: 3