Space Shuttle Columbia: The Final Flight Part 4, April 14, 2024, CNN

Space Shuttle Columbia The Final Flight

The fourth and final instalment of CNN’s four-part documentary series, “Space Shuttle Columbia: The Final Flight“, airs tonight. The series examines the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, in which the orbiter broke apart during its return to Earth, killing all seven crew members on board.

The episode will delve into the aftermath of the tragedy, exploring NASA’s response and the subsequent investigation. It will also highlight the human cost of the disaster, with interviews from family members of the fallen astronauts.

The previous episodes have provided a detailed account of the mission, beginning months before the launch and concluding with the ill-fated re-entry. The documentary has combined first-hand testimonies with previously unseen archive footage, offering a comprehensive insight into the events leading up to the tragedy.

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The first three episodes have revealed the sequence of events that ultimately led to the disaster. On January 16, 2003, a piece of insulating foam broke off from the external tank and struck the left wing of the shuttle during launch. Despite concerns raised by engineers, NASA managers deemed it “not a safety issue”. This assessment proved fatal as, upon re-entry, the damage caused by the foam strike allowed hot atmospheric gases to penetrate the shuttle, resulting in its disintegration.

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The final episode will focus on the investigation and its findings, which exposed flaws in NASA’s safety culture and management. The episode will also examine the human impact of the tragedy and the legacy of the crew, ensuring their sacrifice was not in vain.

Space Shuttle Columbia: The Final Flight airs on CNN at 9.00 pm on Friday, April 14, 2024.

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