The Columbia Shuttle accident occurred in 2003 when the shuttle was disintegrated over Texas during its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere because of damaging the thermal protection system. The most tragic detail connected with the accident was in the fact that this tragedy which caused the deaths of seven people could be predicted with references to the problems the Challenger Shuttle had faced several years before this accident. And the main lessons of the tragedy are in the fact NASA should change its approach to the issues of performance management. The accident can be analyzed from the point of the technical problems. However, these problems could be overcome by providing an effective managerial solution to the issue. Thus, the main causes of the ineffective performance management provided by NASA in the situation of the tragedy are in the level of the external or government’s pressure and internal factors which NASA experienced while conducting the operation. There was the necessity of a choice between following the government’s requirements and following the views of the engineers on the significance of the problem.
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The Issues of Performance Management with References to the Columbia Shuttle Accident
It is possible to divide the problems which the managers of the shuttle experienced into two categories. The first category is the external impacts including the political influence, and the second category is the internal factors that are interdependent with the external ones. The external factors depend on the role of the administrative power which can be decisive for realizing definite operations. Thus, the managers of NASA were oriented on following the government’s requirements and conducting the operation in time, according to the schedule, but without much attention to the solution of the determined technical problems because of the lack of time and budget.
The internal factors developed because the NASA managers followed the government’s interests without focusing on the issue of the safety organization of the flight. Such positions of ignoring the engineers’ requests and the necessity of the immediate improvements of the shuttle caused the tragedy and the deaths of the people (Starbuck & Farjoun, 2005). To diminish the costs of the resources because of the overbudget, the NASA managers chose to economize the costs on the safety system, preflight inspections and reviews of the specialists. Thus, the NASA managers did not pay attention to the safety organization and ignored the lessons associated with the Challenger’s accident (Stillman, 2009).
The Additional Performance Measures for the Realization of the Further Effective Space Travel
To prevent accidents of this kind in the future, it is necessary for the NASA management to change the approach to the external pressures and internal factors and concentrate on the safety organization with overcoming technical problems. The safety control should be independent of the external factors and the pressure of the authority. It is important to set the priorities associated with the safety, commercial, and political factors. The work of the managers and employees should be based on the principles of effective communication and cooperation and it should be organized according to meeting the appropriate launch deadlines without the lack of safety control (Schwartz, Revkin, & Wald, 2005).
The ineffective performance management provided by NASA in the case of Columbia Shuttle depends on such external factors as the government’s requirements to follow the schedule strictly and the budget cuts and such internal factors as the limits of the safety organization. Their combination affected the development of the risky situation. To prevent the tragedy, it was necessary to concentrate not on following the schedule requirements, but on effective safety control and organization.
Schwartz, J., Revkin, A. C., & Wald, M. (2005). For NASA, misjudgments led to latest shuttle woes. Web.
Starbuck, W. H. & Farjoun, M. (2005). Organization at the limit: Lessons from the Columbia disaster. USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
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Stillman, R. J. (2009). Public administration: Concepts and cases. USA: Wadsworth Publishing.