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January 2, 2009
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NASA has released details of the deadly space shuttle Columbia accident in 2003 and completed a report on what went wrong and how similar accidents can be prevented.
NASA said Tuesday that it had finished a comprehensive study of crew safety equipment and procedures during the accident and issued recommendations to improve safety for future flights.
The agency said the final report on the Columbia accident, with 30 recommendations for spacecraft design and crew safety, represents the first in-depth study on surviving a spaceflight accident. No one survived the Columbia disaster, which left thousands of pieces of debris scattered in mostly remote areas of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas.
NASA plans improved training, procedures, and restraints; enhanced equipment; new spacecraft design recommendations; and new accident investigation procedures. Some of the recommendations are already in use in the Space Shuttle Program and the Constellation Program.
A team of NASA employees and outside experts collaborated on the study at NASA's Johnson Space Center.
"The members of this team have done an outstanding job under difficult and personal circumstances," Johnson Space Center director Michael Coats said in a prepared statement. "Their work will ensure that the legacy of Columbia and her heroic crew continues to be the improved safety of future human spaceflights worldwide."
The report, a fact sheet explaining the recommendations that NASA has already implemented, and records from a teleconference regarding the report, are available on NASA's Web site. The teleconference took place Tuesday with officials and investigators from the Johnson Space Center.
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