Home » My 8 weeks at Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program » Day 22 – Columbia Disaster Explained?

Day 22 – Columbia Disaster Explained?

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Today’s first class was the case discussion on the Columbia Space Shuttle tragedy.  It was disheartening to learn that the root cause was mismanagement, miscommunication and a sense of complacency at NASA.

Rodney Rocha was in the class along with a Chief Knowledge Officer at NASA. He took about 35 – 40 minutes to provide his perspective and answered questions.  In his view NASA’s system was to blame and he could not hold any one person accountable.  Rodney was the engineer on that Mission.  He is one of the Chief Engineers at NASA today.

columbia crew Here is the crew on board Columbia.  This mission  was a science mission to conduct various  experiments. Variety of different experiments were  on board including studying the effect of sand storms in the Sahara.  Kalpana Chawla is in the center of this  picture.  Kevin, Alfonso, a few others talked to  Rodney after class and I  asked him the question if  anything could have been done to save the crew.  In his view, options were not explored.  They could have done a spacewalk even though back then they were not doing spacewalks.  They could have also talked to the Russians or others for ideas.  His biggest regret is not yelling loud enough. He was one of the guys asking for satellite pictures to assess the damage on the shuttle’s wing.  The request went nowhere.

Here is a picture of him providing his side of the story to the class.
Rodney at Class

Here is a closeup when we were talking to him after class.

rodney closeup

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