August 26, 2003

THE COLUMBIA ACCIDENT REPORT IS OUT. The cause is damage from a foam strike on launch causing burn-through on reentry, essentially. That’s what it looked like at the time.

I looked over the report quickly to see if I could find discussion of the issue raised by Brian Carnell back in February: the reformulation of the foam for environmental reasons, said by some to make it less robust. There’s a bit of discusison in Chapter 3, (p. 3), which notes that the foam was reformulated for environmental reasons, but I can’t find any discussion of whether that had any impact. I may have missed something, though — the report is very long, and I’ve just skimmed it.

Here’s a news story summarizing the report.