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 has nearly forty years of experience in process safety and EHS management. From 2001 – 2015, he served as Executive Director of the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS). Under his leadership, the body of knowledge and scope of practice of process safety expanded both technically and globally, growing from a primarily technical practice to one involving leadership, culture, and business. Transformative initiatives under his leadership included the Business Case for Process Safety, the fundamentals of Process Safety Culture, the next generation Guidelines for Risk Based...Read more

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