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space shuttle



aerospace safety and accidents


Jim lecture slides -- "Space Lessons for Earth Safety" -- 2006


Two Years Before Columbia, Jim Pointed to Flawed NASA Safety Culture:

In Scientific American, February 2000, he wrote:
"Many observers have been alarmed at the apparent increase [of failures], which could be a symptom of deeper problems that could lead to more failures in the future. . . . NASA will have to address its systemic weaknesses if it is to avoid a new string of expensive, embarrassing and perhaps in some cases life-threatening foul-ups."

In New Scientist, April 15, 2000, he wrote:
"Critics say that a number of accidents, oversights and failures in other NASA programmes indicate that other parts of the organisation are stretched to breaking point. NASA, they say, is repeating the errors that led to the Challenger disaster. The consequences of a future accident could, also, be fatal.. . . The cost of forgetting is now measured in hundreds of millions of dollars, years of delay and public humiliation. So far, no more human lives have been lost but the question NASA must answer is whether this will continue."


Aviation Disaster Controversies


The Columbia Catastrophe


KAL - 007 30th Anniversary


Space Quarantine

09/2011 - Advisory on Falling UARS Satellite
09/08/2011 - Russian “Explanation” of Progress Launch Failure Explains Nothing
06/07/2011 - New Soyuz Launch Today - Safety Concerns Downplayed
03/14/2011 - The Space Review: Digital Soyuz’ shakedown, and coverup of O2 pressure regulator failures
03/31/2010 - MSNBC.com: Russians report snag in space safety system Launch escape tower went awry last year; no big deal, NASA was told
06/2009 - AIAA: Soyuz Emergency Landings Investigation Lands With A Whimper
02/04/2009 - MSNBC.com: Shaking on space station rattles NASA
Vigorous vibrations caught on video during orbital reboost last month [and NASA kept them secret]
Winter/2008 - ROBOT magazine: Space Station Saved by Human-Robotics Symbiosis
08/28/2008 - MSNBC.com: Station Dodges Controversial Russian Space Junk

06/12/2008 - MSNBC.com: Why NASA watches out for true UFOs

02/14/2008 - MSNBC.com: Heading off a toxic iceberg from space
02/14/2008 - MSNBC.com: Q&A: Destroying a broken spy satellite
01/21/2008 - The Space Review: The dark side of space disaster theories
11/13/2007 - MSNBC.com: Smoke alarm threatens NASA plans
10/03/2007 - MSNBC.com: Lessons from the Sputnik generation
09/01/2007 - Spectrum IEEE: The Space Station's woes show what's wrong with NASA and hints at how to put it right
08/07/2007 - MSNBC.com: Human failings serve as NASA wake-up call
08/02/2007 - MSNBC.com: Phoenix trip to Mars offers suspense galore
06/18/2007 - Florida Today: Confidence in failed ISS computers misplaced?

Oberg: “I must confess I'm a more than a little bit dismayed by Mr. Engelauf's apparent brushing off the question of what caused the original computer problems with the assurances that since the crew has found a way to get them working again, the problems are for all intents and purposes solved”

05/29/2007 - MSNBC.com: NASA addresses fears about space fire hazard
02/08/2007 - MSNBC.com: Veteran NASA doctor says agency must do more [re: astronaut job stress]
01/27/2007 - MSNBC.com: NASA must fight the forgetting
12/06/2006 - MSNBC.com: Why a night launch is the right launch
12/04/2006 - MSNBC.com: ISS Crew To Jettison Piano-sized Surplus Unit
06/26/2006 - The Space Review: Terrorist Threat to Baykonur Cosmodrome?
Summer/2006 - ROBOT magazine: Repair Bots in Orbit
05/08/2006 - The Space Review: The real significance of the ISS thruster test failure
04/19/2006 - MSNBC.com: Space station engine test fizzles
04/10/2006 - The Space Review: Soyuz launch comm emergency
03/24/2006 - MSNBC.com: ArabSat bites the dust, dashing hopes
03/08/2006 - MSNBC.com: Mars orbiter faces NASA’s ‘Ghoulish’ past
03/07/2006 - MSNBC.com: NASA checking shuttle tank concerns
01/25/2006 - MSNBC.com: “Seven myths about the Challenger shuttle disaster”
11/01/2005 - MSNBC.com: Dangling strap to blame for scary space leak?
10/14/2005 - MSNBC.com: Space crew weathers a scare during re-entry
06/16/2005 - MSNBC.com: “Sources say Flawed test threw Deep Impact imager off kilter
04/25/2005 - MSNBC: “NASA managers insist books aren’t cooked
04/06/2005 - MSNBC.com: “Shuttle panel divided over NASA compliance
02/20/2006 - MSNBC.com: Release of private space medical records enhances safety
02/15/2005 - MSNBC.com: Missing: One Russian spy satellite
02/10/2005 - MSNBC.com: New NASA Memo Confirms Spacewalk Thruster Incident
02/07/2005 - The Space Review: “What does a sick "space safety culture" smell like?
01/31/2005 - MSNBC.com: "Spacewalk thruster incident (phantom torque) alarms NASA"
01/26/2005 - MSNBC.com: Deadly space lessons go unheeded
01/17/2005 - The Space Review: How Huygens Avoided disaster
12/27/2004 - MSNBC.com: Can Earthquakes be tamed?
12/2004 - Air & Space: Things That Fall To Earth
10/21/2004 - MSNBC.com: “‘Murphy’s Law’ rules outer space (Genesis Crash)
10/04/2004 - Spectrum IEEE: Saving the Huygens Titan Probe
09/15/2004 - MSNBC.com: New Russian mishap threatens launch schedule
08/06/2004 - MSNBC.com: NASA could learn from private sector
11/21/2003 - MSNBC.com: Russia's Secret: Space Station Nearly Died The Day It Was Born
09/15/2003 - MSNBC.com: Expert Warns of Future Shuttle Woes
08/31/2003 - Pre-Columbia criticism of NASA's 'Safety Culture' in the late 1990's
08/25/2003 - MSNBC.com: NASA's culture of denial
07/08/2003 - MSNBC.com: The Hole in NASA's Safety Culture
05/05/2003 - MSNBC.com: Software bug sent Soyuz off course / IEEE detailed report
07/2002 - Scientific American: “Noise becomes a concern on the International Space Station (Scientific American)
10/2001 - The Mir Safety Controversy ('Star-Crossed Orbits')
2001 - How Mars Missions Fail -- And How To Prevent It
12/2000 - Spectrum: Russia's Infrastructure Decay
05/19/2000 - lpi.usra.edu: Investigating and Reporting on the Mars '98 Catastrophe
LPI Seminar Series

“Oberg will give credit to the thoroughness and integrity of the accident review boards but will argue that NASA leadership still doesn't seem to ‘get it’ about where the flaws originated… This culture remains unacknowledged and uncorrected and may lead to more unpleasant and expensive setbacks.

02/01/2000 - NASA's Not So Shining Moments
10/07/1998 - House Space Subcommittee hearings on "Bail-out for Russia"
06/08/1998 - ABC News: Mir Lessons Learned
05/18/1998 - Space News: Handling Mir Misinformation
05/18/1998 - Florida Today: Interview on NASA Culture: "Recipe for doom"
09/18/1997 - Statement for House Science Committee
06/26/1997 - Memo on Fallacy of claiming 'Mir Is Safe'
05/26/1997 - PBS Newshour: Debate on Safety of Mir (Oberg vs Sagdeev)
03/21/1997 - NY Times: Problems Fail To Unsettle U.S. Scientist On Aging Mir

Oberg: ''They've gotten away with shaving their margins and stretching their limits, and people are treating that as somehow proof they can do so indefinitely.'' [This was prior to the docking collision that nearly killed all three crewmen, including astronaut Jerry Linenger]
03/1997 - Consultant Report: Soyuz Landing Safety
02/1997 - Fires (And Smokescreens) On Mir- Unheeded warnings about fire dangers on Russian spacecraft
12/1995 - Russia's Space Program: Running On Empty - Part 2
12/1995 - Russia's Space Program: Running On Empty - Part 1: James Oberg's grim account of the fate of the Russian space program
12/1994 - There's no Soy Ooze in "Soyuz"(Pronouncing Russian Space Names)
10/12/1994 - Jim Warns of Mir Collision/Depressurization Hazard
03/17/1994 - Jim Warns, 'Use Metric for Trajectories'
07/23/1993 - Oberg NASA briefing: Mitigation of Hazards of Spacecraft-Generated Debris
1988 - The Bloody Border
1988 - Uncovering Soviet Disasters: Chapter on dead cosmonauts
03/1986 - Soviet Aerospace Disinformation
1986 - Chapter 5: Submarines Uncovering Soviet Disasters


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