The panel investigating the crash of the space shuttle Columbia will issue its report today, and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’d support more Congressional funding for NASA to prevent future tragedies. Grassley, a Republican, says the space agency evidently did -not- learn enough important lessons from the previous shuttle disaster when Challenger blew up in 1986. Grassley says there’s never going to be a “risk-free mission.” Grassley says NASA suffers from the same problems that plague many large governmental agencies, calling it “institutional disease,” where administrators ignore dissenting opinions and underlings are trained not to question authority. Columbia and its seven astronauts were lost in what many blame is the “NASA culture.” Grassley says he supports the continued effort to launch manned missions. The accident board spent seven months investigating why Columbia disintegrated during reentry last February. Investigators determined foam insulation that broke off during launch tore a hole in Columbia’s left wing, allowing super-hot gases inside and breaking the shuttle apart.
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