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On February 1st 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas while attempting to re-enter the Earths atmosphere.  The disaster was found to have been caused by a collision, with a piece of debris that had broken loose when the shuttle had blasted off 16 days earlier.

The disaster prompted NASA to commission a report which was carried out by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.  The CAIB’s report found that there had been failings both from a technical point of view, as well as organizational failings.  One of the many failings was with the position of Shuttle Program Manager, who’s primary directives were to achieve safe, timely launches with acceptable costs.  These three directives are clearly conflicting and as such meant that regardless of the individual making the decisions within this role, they were unlikely to succeed in all of the directives they were tasked with achieving.

The CAIB report is very long and there are many failings that it highlights, but in my opinion it neglects to point out the major failing that I see with the accident.  By the time the Columbia had achieved its orbit, NASA were already aware of the damage that had occurred during blast off.  They looked at two contingency plans, a rescue mission by another shuttle, and a space walk by someone on board to repair the damage.  The space walk was deemed to be dangerous, but possible.  The rescue mission was deemed to be the better option, as there was already a shuttle that had been prepared to launch relatively shortly after the Columbia mission, and there would be a 5 day overlap where a rescue was possible.  Both options were not ideal, but they were there.

In what I consider a stunning piece of mismanagement the decision was bizarrely taken to do nothing, and simply allow the shuttle to attempt re-entry. This had fatal consequences when the shuttle broke up over Texas killing all 7 crew members on board. Whatever the reason for the accident, there was bad management in that regardless of how dangerous the two contingency options were, they would have given the crew a fighting chance of survival.  By doing nothing the people managing this project may as well have just killed the crew themselves, as a re-entry with damaged heat shielding for the craft was always going to end as it did, in disaster.

Karl Jazwinski

The CAIB report in full:

http://www.caib.us/

An interesting link about how poor PowerPoint Presentations may also have contributed to the crash:

http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0000Rs&topic_id=1&topic=Ask%20E%2eT%2e

My first post!!

This has been a hot topic throughout the footballing world and financal world. The Glazer family bought Manchester United in 2005 for around $1.5billion (£800million). Since then there has been speculation of the clubs financial health and sustainability.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1243042/Manchester-United-finance-shock-Have-Glazers-Red-Devils-road-meltdown.html

Tom McParland.

Games.

Heroes of Newerth. It is a DotA-based online game, still in beta-testing, but really well thought-out and with bright future ahead of it. The developers are deeply involved with and listening to the opinions of their players, reading feedback regularly on their forums and taking it on board, changing their game as need be.

World of Warcraft. An addicting MMORPG.

FIFA. A football simulator published by EA.