31Aug2017

A Sombre Reminder

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Working here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station immersed in the space industry has its perks. It’s not everyone that can say, “I was late for work because I had to pull over for a rocket stage”.

We get to see hardware here every day that would make space enthusiasts green with envy. Every industry has highs and lows but not all have such high consequences when something goes wrong.

A bad day for a launch or re-entry can mean loss of life, vehicle and property which can affect not only our local community but our country and may have global impacts as well. There are memorials to our fallen space heroes but our recent visit to the Columbia room at the Vehicle Assembly Building at KSC was a somber reminder of a tragic event in space history.

Seeing firsthand the recovered pieces of the space shuttle Columbia reinforced the fact that working in this amazing industry comes with some painful lessons. The fact that no public was harmed with the Columbia breakup was nothing short of a miracle and prompted some major changes in engineering practices and more importantly the management and workforce culture.

The many successful missions since the Challenger disaster led to complacency and what should have caused concern was swept under the banner of ‘normal’ and as a result another tragedy occurred. As we head into another era with human spaceflight on the horizon we need to reflect on the history of the space program and to reinforce the need for vigilance in all disciplines.

Mr. Ciannilli, the Project Manager of the Columbia Research and Preservation Office at KSC, is an advocate for anyone who will be involved in any aspect of human spaceflight to visit the Columbia room. Mr. Ciannelli states the lessons from Challenger and Columbia span not just the next generation of spacecraft developers but across many industries.

As safety inspectors it is our duty to learn from the lessons of the past and to promote safe practices in our industry to ensure public safety and the continued success of our amazing space program!

Written and submitted by: Patricia Savage. Merritt Island. Florida. USA

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