The Columbia Disaster: Culture, Communication & Change

Ruth Guthrie (California Polytechnic University, Pomona, USA) and Conrad Shayo (California State University, San Bernardino, USA)
Copyright: © 2005 |Pages: 76
EISBN13: 9781605665290|DOI: 10.4018/jcit.2005070104
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is a government organization, founded to explore space to better understand our own planet and the universe around us. Over NASA’s history, there have been unprecedented successes: Apollo missions that put people into space and walking on the moon, the remarkable findings of the Hubble space telescope and the Space Shuttle Program, allowing astronauts to perform scientific experiments in orbit from a reusable space vehicle. NASA continues to be a source of national wonder and pride for the United States and the world. However, NASA has failures too. In February of 2002, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated as it returned to Earth. This event occurred 16 years after the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded during take-off. As information was collected, investigators found that many of the problems uncovered during the Challenger investigation were also factors for Columbia. Underlying both disasters was the problem of relaying complex engineering information to management, in an environment driven by schedule and budget pressure. Once again, NASA is looking at ways to better manage space programs in an environment of limited resources.
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