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The Columbia Tragedy: System Level Issues for Engineering

The Columbia Tragedy: System Level Issues for Engineering

This video was recorded at MIT World Series: Brunel Lecture Series on Complex Systems. Among the "tragedy of errors" that doomed the space shuttle Columbia, perhaps the most damning were NASA's organizational blunders. Sheila Widnall served on the board investigating Columbia's destruction in February, 2003, and she can describe the technical failures that led, moment by moment, to the ghastly trail of debris across the western United States. But the investigation board traced the roots of this disaster to NASA's "culture of invincibility," years in the making. Well-intentioned people, Widnall states, became desensitized to deviations from the norm. NASA managers treated repeated anomalies -- such as foam smashing into shuttle tiles on take off -- as "maintenance turnaround events." Foam... Show More
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