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Columbia Disaster Blamed on NASA Budget

Lisa Stark writes for abcnews.com that it was more than a piece of foam that caused the Columbia shuttle to disintegrate in space, killing seven astronauts?complacency and the tight budget at NASA did it too.

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board report says NASA has "a system that failed to identify the true hazards." Because pieces of foam broke off and hit the shuttle without causing an accident in the past, NASA assumed this was no problem. The Challenger and Columbia shuttles are the only two accidents that have taken place in space in the history of NASA?s shuttle program. The Challenger disaster was caused by a problem in an O-ring seal?a problem that had shown up before, on earlier flights, just like Columbia's foam. After the disaster, earlier e-mails showed that engineers were concerned during the mission that not enough was being done to determine if the shuttle was at risk.

John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org. says, "The shuttle was giving off warning signs of an impending failure and NASA's safety organization?and their attitude toward safety?was that their organization was not listening to what the shuttle was trying to tell them, that there was an accident waiting to happen."

What's flying through the air?and what does it all mean? Sean Casteel has some fascinating answers on this week's Dreamland!

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