Details Final, Critical Moments Of STS-107
Continuing what's become a
maddening agency tradition of
issuing controversial reports near the very end of the
year -- and the news cycle -- on Tuesday NASA quietly
released a 400-page report detailing the circumstances that led to
the February 2003 loss of the crew of the space shuttle
The cause of the accident itself, of course, had been determined
well before Tuesday.
As ANN reported, the Columbia Accident
Investigation Board quickly determined in that a chunk of
insulating foam separated from the shuttle's external fuel tank
during its January 16 launch, and struck the leading edge of
the shuttle's left wing... resulting in a small but critical hole
in the shuttle's fragile carbon-carbon heat shield tiles, that
allowed superheated plasma formed during reentry to penetrate the
shuttle's internal structure.
The report released Tuesday -- titled "Columbia Crew Survival
Investigation Report" -- details the final moments of Columbia's
"The members of this team have done an outstanding job under
difficult and personal circumstances," said Johnson Space Center
Director Michael L. Coats. "Their work will ensure that the legacy
of Columbia and her heroic crew continues to be the improved safety
of future human spaceflights worldwide."
The team's final report includes 30 recommendations to improve
spacecraft design and crew safety. The recommendations cover a
broad range of subjects from crew training, procedures, restraints
and individual safety equipment to spacecraft design methods and
recommendations regarding future accident investigations.
In addition to the sheer size of the report and the breadth of
engineering detail it contains, it is also disturbing to read...
not because of the grisly details it contains, per se, but rather
in how it graphically details the crew's final moments in
dispassionate, critical detail.
"The Columbia depressurization event occurred so rapidly that
the crew members were incapacitated within seconds, before they
could configure the suit for full protection from loss of cabin
pressure," the report reads. "Although circulatory systems
functioned for a brief time, the effects of the depressurization
were severe enough that the crew could not have regained
consciousness. This event was lethal to the crew."
The link to the full 10MB report is below.