Lessons for Chemical Engineers from the Loss of Space Shuttle Columbia

Originally delivered Jul 29, 2009
Developed by: AIChE
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On January 21st, 2003, Members of AIChE's Center for Chemical Process Safety had the rare privilege to observe the safety procedures used at the Kennedy Space Center to load the hypergolic thruster fuels onto the Space Shuttle Columbia. Just 11 days later, the Columbia disintegrated on reentry. As details of the accident emerged from the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, it became clear that there were many lessons that chemical engineers could learn from NASA's actions leading up to this tragic accident.

This presentation will link the loss of the Columbia to the 2005 explosion at the BP Texas City refinery which killed 15 and injured 180, and highlight six key actions useful to prevent chemical accidents, protect the integrity of research, and maybe even improve your life.


Scott Berger

Scott Berger, Director of AIChE's Industry Technology Alliances, joined CCPS in 2001 after 5 years at Owens Corning, where he held a range of Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) assignments including Director of EHS Strategic Management. Scott also worked for 18 years at Rohm and Haas Company in R&D, engineering, and EHS. Scott also has administrative responsibility for the Design Institute for Physical Properties (DIPPR), and the Design Institute for Emergency Relief (DIERS). Scott received a BS and MS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Read more

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