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After the demise of the space shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board sharply criticized NASA’s safety culture. Adopting the high-reliability organization as a benchmark, the board concluded that NASA did not possess the organizational characteristics that could have prevented this disaster. Furthermore, the board determined that high-reliability theory is “extremely useful in describing the culture that should exist in the human spaceflight organization.” In this article, we argue that this conclusion is based on a misreading and misapplication of high-reliability research. We conclude that in its human spaceflight programs, NASA has never been, nor could it be, a high-reliability organization. We propose an alternative framework to assess reliability and safety in what we refer to as reliability-seeking organizations.