businessforumNASApaper-2 - Daniel G Yoon Business Forum...

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Daniel G. Yoon Business Forum Fall 2010 Ethical Leadership Assignment [email protected] Recognizing the ethical problems and clarifying the facts behind the 2003 NASA disaster Upon reviewing the case study report on the 2003 Columbia shuttle crash: multiple ethical dilemmas resulted in misjudgment of pertinent safety information as well as a failure to regard safety as the most important issue of the NASA space mission. The most prevalent ethical problem that led to the 2003 disaster was the misconduct of mission project leader Linda Ham. Ham’s misjudgment on the importance of the data concerning the foam debris damaging the shuttle directly resulted in the lack of repairs and safety precautions that may have saved the crewmembers. Ham downplayed the severity of the potential damage by the foam debris in order to keep the mission track on schedule, meanwhile sacrificing important safety measures in the process. Her true error, however, was her suppression of any information or data that highlighted the severity of damage on the shuttle. Ham refused to compromise the integrity of the mission as well as her own leadership over the safety of the crew. Thus the tragedy stemmed from her poor leadership and stubbornness. However a secondary component of ethical wrongdoing led to the false assumption that the shuttle was undamaged. The Boeing engineers used flawed programming to simulate the landing and possible “burn-through” of the shuttle hull. This resulted in false security claims that
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the shuttle would safely land on earth. Their decision to not use the correct software, as well as
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businessforumNASApaper-2 - Daniel G Yoon Business Forum...

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