NASA: Huge Science Balloon Crashed Because of Human satisfaction
Complacency in a variety of forms led to the April crash of a vast NASA science balloon carrying a multimillion-dollar telescope in the Australian outback, according to new details released today. A NASA Mishap Investigation Board has concluded that weather situation were acceptable for the failed balloon launch on April 29, and there were no technological problems with the balloon or its scientific payload, a $2 million gamma-ray telescope. However, the board recognized 25 different human-caused factors that led to the spectacular crash. Most of these causes were related to shortcomings in risk analysis, possibility planning, personnel training, technical information, government oversight and public safety accommodation, according to NASA officials.

"First, the Balloon Program has been in service under an underlying assumption that the risks to the public only live in the over flight of populated areas," the report states. "This supposition has led to a very limited view of the hazards and their linked targets involved in launching balloons. Next, the decades of winning balloon launches under a tight funds have led to complacency and a sense that presentation of safety and technical measures can be calm under the guise of risk acceptance." NASA attempted to launch the huge, 400-foot balloon from a site in Alice spring in Australia's Northern Territory. But the balloon didn't create it very far. Just as the balloon started to rise, the gondola for its scientific load the University of California at Berkeley's Nuclear Compton Telescope came loose.

The telescope then fell and was drag 450 feet, crashing through a barrier and overturning a nearby parked car before lastly coming to a stop. No one was injured in the crash, but the telescope was partly destroyed, NASA officials said. The instrument was going to look for far galaxies from about 120,000 feet up in Earth's atmosphere. Immediately after the crash, launch operation at all of NASA's balloon sites were balanced. NASA's Balloon Program Office plans to recommence launches once it has implement and verified new procedures to safeguard launch crew and the public, agency officials said. "There is no question in our mind that balloon launch are fragile processes," said mishap board leader Michael Weiss, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in a declaration. 

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