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Space Shuttle Columbia

On 1st February 2003, Columbia broke up during its return to earth with the loss of its seven-member crew.  The Orbiter’s destruction, just 16 minutes before its scheduled touchdown, demonstrates that spaceflight is still far from routine.  The report by the independent Columbia Accident Investigation Board (August 2003) is available from NASA  and discusses in some detail cultural traits and organisational practices that were detrimental to safety.  The report, in its findings, conclusions, and recommen­dations, places as much weight on these causal factors as on the more easily understood and corrected physical cause of the accident.