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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The risks of Discovery....

Friend Ciaran emailed me this morning with an item from the Houston Chronicle about Charles Camarda, the director of engineering on the STS-121 Discovery shuttle team (and a former shuttle crew member) who was removed from the flight decision team because of his support for shuttle workers who raised issues about the upcoming flight.

I suspect this is linked to the story of disagreements within the mission team aired last week on NPR (also see here). Although it is a bit vague at the moment, it looks like the disagreement was initially over the idea of acceptable risk, but now has turned into a controversy of personnel decisions. It is also unclear whether Camarda was fired outright or forced the agency to fire him by refusing a transfer that would have effectively removed him from his position.

My interest in all this dates back to my co-authored article on the Challenger accident in 1987 and a continuing interest in the organizational dynamics of NASA and similar "high reliability" organizations. We get to watch all this unfold at the launch of Discovery, now set for July 1....

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