Retired NASA flight director blogs about the aftermath of Columbia disaster


11 Responses to “Retired NASA flight director blogs about the aftermath of Columbia disaster”

  1. Ian Wood says:

    Columbia could’ve been NASA’s second Apollo 13. And that would’ve been a good thing.

    • bzishi says:

      I doubt it. The same management that would take corrective action due to a potential foam strike in space would also analyze the danger of foam strikes during launch. Apollo 13 was obvious. The management knew there was a problem. But when someone, even a flight director, tells the senior management there is potential problem due to design, they are going to be listened to and then kindly dismissed. After all, if there was a problem with the foam, there would have been some evidence in 100 or so flights, right? And engineering has already evaluated foam strikes as being safe, right? And aren’t you supposed to be doing your job instead questioning how others have done their jobs?

      I know this type of interaction from experience. Engineers are forced to PROVE there is a problem before management will act.

      • digi_owl says:


        When did the PHBs infect NASA?

        • bzishi says:

          They are everywhere. Look at the history for the Columbia accident. Engineers asked the DOD to use their secret tech for photographs. NASA management found out and stopped the requests.

          • digi_owl says:

            And the subcontractor that supplied the Challenger o-rings said go for launch when the CEO switched from his engineer “cap” to his management “cap”.

      • Ian Wood says:

        I meant if they had managed to identify the strike damage after Columbia was in orbit.

        So, yeah. Could’ve been. Wasn’t.

  2. jay curry says:

    “But being one of the good guys doesn’t mean you don’t feel guilty when something goes horribly wrong.”

    I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb when I say that I think that ‘being one of the good guys’ actually means that even if you are not one of the people actually responsible when things go wrong, you feel guilty when they do and what you suspect was wrong, actually turns out to be a significant contributor to the disaster.

    • digi_owl says:

      Yep, i suspect he will eternally wonder if they would still be alive if he had done just a bit more. While those that brushed him off may well have no issue sleeping for the rest of their days.

      • Ashen Victor says:

        Sense of guilt is only for those who has a conscience, those who feel bad knowing that someone was hurt and no one was able or did nothing to stop it.

        That is why assholes never feel guilty.

  3. digi_owl says:

    Has it already been a decade?!

  4. Peter Morris says:

    In the paragraph of the post that begins “But being one of the good” it ends with “and after the Challenger disaster:”. But this post is about Columbia.

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