WASHINGTON - A new NASA report says that the seat restraints, suits and helmets of the doomed crew of the space shuttle Columbia didn't work well, leading to "lethal trauma" as the out-of-control ship broke apart, killing all seven astronauts.
In a graphic 400-page report, NASA further studied the Feb. 1, 2003, shuttle tragedy to help them design their new shuttle replacement capsule more likely to survive an accident.
The report said it wasn't clear if the astronauts were already dead or just unconscious from the lethal lack of cabin pressure before the blunt force of the spinning out-of-control shuttle would have killed them. The report detailed five "events" that were potentially lethal to the crew.
Columbia disintegrated as it returned to Earth at the end of its space mission. The accident was caused by a hole in the shuttle's left wing that occurred at launched. Killed in the disaster were commander Rick Husband, pilot William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, and Ilan Ramon of Israel.