A 10-Year Retrospective of the Challanger Space Shuttle Disaster: Was It Group Think?

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Challanger Space Shuttle disaster happened in January 28 at 11:38 am. According to the report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shutte Challanger accident, shortly after 1 am ET on January 27, NASA’s booster rocket manager, Larry Wear, asks officials of rocket maker Morton Thiokol in Utah whether cold weather on January 28 would present a problem for launch. They got the answer by late afternoon after the midlevel NASA managers are on the phone with Thiokol managers, who point out that the booster’s ruberry O-rings, which seal in hot gases, might be affected by cold. This concern brings in officials from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center which buys the rockets from Thiokol and readies them for launch. Marshall managers decide a three-way telephone conference needed between NASA, Thiokol engineers and managers in Alabama, Florida and Utah. In the first conference Thiokol tells NASA the lauch should be delayed until noon or afternoon when the weather turn warmer. According to Marshall deputy project manager, if Thiokol persist, NASA should not launch. In the second conference, Thiokol engineers Boisjoly and Arnie Thompson present chart showing a history of leaking O-ring joints from tests and pervious flights. Although they already know the risks, NASA’s George Hardy and Laary Mulloy, Marshall’s booster rocket manager, insist that they should launch Challanger. Thiokol vice president, Joe Kilminster, held a private talk with Boisjoly, Thompson, and engineer Bob Ebeling and others. The result is that Thiokol changed its mind and reommends launch. Then Challanger is launch at 11:38 am January 28 in temperature 36 degreees. Shortly after launch, Challanger was engulfed in a fiery explosion that led to the deaths of six astronauts, and teacher-in-space Christa McAuliffe. This accident has a big impact and a long time impact. Thiokol engineers Roger Boisjoly and Arnie Thompson live took widely differing paths after the accident. Boisjoly...
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