Case | HBS Case Collection | April 2004 (Revised May 2010)

Columbia's Final Mission

by Richard M.J. Bohmer, Amy C. Edmondson, Michael Roberto, Laura Feldman and Erika Ferlins


Describes the 16-day final mission of the space shuttle Columbia in January 2003 in which seven astronauts died. Includes background on NASA and the creation of the human space flight program, including the 1970 Apollo 13 crisis and 1986 Challenger disaster. Examines NASA's organizational culture, leadership, and the influences on the investigation of and response to foam shedding from the external fuel tank during shuttle launch.

Keywords: Leadership; Crisis Management; Management Skills; Organizational Culture; Groups and Teams; Behavior; Aerospace Industry;


Bohmer, Richard M.J., Amy C. Edmondson, Michael Roberto, Laura Feldman, and Erika Ferlins. "Columbia's Final Mission." Harvard Business School Case 304-090, April 2004. (Revised May 2010.)