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Columbia Report Coming Out

Well this is a surprise – CNN is reporting that NASA will be releasing today the final report on the Columbia accident investigation today. This is not the what-caused-it report, but the what-happened-during analysis. Specifically, the report findings we saw concerned how the breakup progressed from initiation to completion and what can be learned to improve spacecraft design for crew survivability.

Not sure if they’ll give as much detail to the public as we got in a briefing back in January, but if so it’s both fascinating and gruesome. It’s simply amazing what the investigators have been able to piece together from very little information.

UPDATE: Keith Cowing has posted a ton of links to the report and related coverage. Since I’m not clear on whether the release of the report frees us from the embargo we signed up for as a condition of getting the briefing from the invedtigators, I’ll wait to comment on it until I get some clarification.

2 comments to Columbia Report Coming Out

  • The report is available at

    It’s pretty grim reading, but I’ve picked up a few points that we might incorporate into Lynx and its systems (including the pressure suits).

    I have some minor quibbles about the details of the separation of the FF from the rest of the vehicle, (I think the failure occurred while at low alpha and high beta, as at 14:11:10 in fig 2.1-13), but this is not very important.

    The only way this accident could have been survivable would have required the crew module to be a sturdy ablative reentry vehicle itself, aerodynamically stable, with controlled separation and at the very least a drogue parachute system. Not likely.

  • Tony Airplane

    Just amazing. In what kind of safety culture did they come up with procedures and designs like this? An astronaut without a helmet? Three without gloves? One wasn’t in his or her seat because they didn’t have time to sit down before re-entry? Seat belt reels didn’t lock? Also, the basic design could have employed a crew safety module along the lines of a B-58 – of course at a weight penalty but we might have saved two crews. Of course had they listened and taken a look at the wing they might have been able to come up with a fix or maybe a reentry profile that would have shielded the damaged area long enough for a very risky but possibly survivable bailout.

    It’s no wonder that they like to have a shot or two of Jack before launch.