Executive Communication: The Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster

On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere. All 7 astronauts aboard were killed. The tragedy was caused by damage sustained when a piece of foam debris struck the shuttle’s left wing during take-off on January 16, 2003. Within a few days of launch, NASA officials and their industry partners were aware of the damage and began assessing the risk and considering options. We will use Barbara Minto's SCQA framework to review actual e-mails, documents, and presentations created by NASA officials between January 17 and February 1 and consider their effectiveness. Finally, we will think about what it means to communicate successfully during a crisis and see if we can prepare to do so in our own businesses. 

This class is limited to Foundations alumni. 

Photo by Marc Van Norden: The Columbia's final launch on January 16, 2003.