The seven astronauts aboard the space shuttle Columbia lost consciousness quickly and did not suffer when the craft broke up during its descent to Earth in 2003, a NASA report says. While the crew had zero chance of survival, the report found fault with the astronauts' safety equipment and recommended improvements in everything from helmets to seat restraints.
The graphic 400-page report details the final moments as Columbia disintegrated 16 minutes before its scheduled landing. It says the crew's lap harnesses barely supported them as the cabin spun wildly, causing lethal trauma. But even if they had lived through that, they couldn't have used their parachutes while unconscious. The investigators recommend that future safety equipment "not rely on manual activation."