Columbia Accident Final Report

Today the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) released the final report on the cause of the Shuttle accident on 2003-02-01. The press release says in part:

The CAIB report concludes that while NASA's present Space Shuttle is not inherently unsafe, a number of mechanical fixes are required to make the Shuttle safer in the short term. The report also concludes that NASA's management system is unsafe to manage the shuttle system beyond the short term and that the agency does not have a strong safety culture.

The Board determined that physical and organizational causes played an equal role in the Columbia accident – that the NASA organizational culture had as much to do with the accident as the foam that struck the Orbiter on ascent. The report also notes other significant factors and observations that may help prevent the next accident.

The full report is available in PDF format on the NASA Columbia home page. It's a long report (almost 250 pages), but I'm going to skim through it to see what can be learned. It's good to see the government putting so much information available online, including a long list of documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.