Data Analysis on the Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia Accidents

Topics: Space Shuttle, NASA, Space Shuttle Columbia Pages: 3 (520 words) Published: June 28, 2013

1.) Why or how did the issues arise?

Challenger Space Shuttle

* Management’s decision for the launch to proceed.

Cause: The upper-level management in both Moton Thiokol and Marshall Flight Center ignored the engineering expertise of the Thiokol engineers who worked on the Solid Rocket Booster Development Program.

Effect: An order for the launch to proceed has been decided even when all the facts where unknown about the problem on the SRB design on low-temperatures.

* Political Pressures

* The Congress was becoming increasingly unhappy with the delays in the shuttle project and shuttle performance. * NASA was feeling some urgency in the program because the European Space Agency was developing what seemed to be a cheaper alternative to the shuttle, which could potentially put the shuttle out of business. * NASA also felt pressure to get the Challenger launched on time so that the next shuttle launch, which was to carry a probe to examine Halley’s Comet, would be launched before a Russian probe designed to do the same thing. * Additional political pressure to launch the Challenger before the upcoming state-of-the-union address, in which Pres. Reagan hoped to mention the shuttle.

Effect: NASA allowed scheduling pressures to supercede good engineering judgement.

Columbia Space Shuttle

* Cultural issues within NASA: “Broken Safety Culture”

Cause: The problem with the foam detaching from the fuel tank during launch had already happened on previous occasions, as well as with the foam had striking the shuttle. Solutions to the problem had been proposed over the years but none had been implemented. Although NASA engineers initially identified foam strikes as a majority safety concern for the shuttle after many launches with no safety problems due to the foam, NASA management became complacent and overlooked the potential for the foam to cause major problems.

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