NASA's broken safety culture

The seven-month, $400 million effort by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board resulted in a 248-page report that blamed NASA's broken safety culture for the failed mission that killed seven astronauts Feb. 1.

"The broken safety culture encouraged flying with flaws because the shuttle could not be held up for routine problems that were not defined as a threat to mission safety," the board's report said. While testifying before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Sept. 3, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe attributed the accident to a "combination of hardware, process and human failure," and admitted that "mission cultural traits and organizational practices within the agency detrimental to safety were allowed to develop." "What doomed the Columbia and its crew was not a lack of technology or ability, but missed opportunities and a lack of leadership and open-mindedness within NASA management," the board said. O'Keefe said NASA is working on a return to the flight implementation plan with the space shuttle Atlantis.

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