The Challenger Disaster: Fated Before Liftoff Essay

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The Challenger Disaster: Fated Before Liftoff In 1986 when the space shuttle Challenger launched from Kennedy Space Center people watched in awe for a little more than a minute before the shuttle exploded in flight. This was the first of only two major accidents that occurred during over two decades of NASA’s shuttle program and many would consider it to be a fluke that could not have been prevented or predicted. In truth the Challenger disaster was an accident waiting to happen and was a symptom of systemic problems that were occurring at NASA during that era. The 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster was cause by a number of factors including structural failure of the shuttle, a change in NASA’s work environment from the days of the…show more content…
Of the four bids put in to build the booster Aerojet proposed a solid welded case on the grounds that sealed cases would be safer than segmented cases. (Hunley 268) Morton Thiokol, the company that actually built the boosters with a segmented case, came in second to last in the bidding but won the contract for scoring best in the cost category of the evaluation. (Hunley 269) According to J. Hunley Author of The Development of Propulsion Technology for U.S. Space –Launch Vehicles, “Since Thiokol had plants in Utah, NASA administrator James C. Fletcher’s home state, the decision was controversial.” (Hunley 269) In addition to controversial bidding practices the solid rocket booster had a design flaw that was known to be an issue for years before the Challenger’s final flight took place. The First flight using the booster was in 1980. (Hunley 275) Since the boosters are recovered after every mission, by 1981 NASA could tell that the booster’s segment seals were already showing signs of wear. (Petroski 271) They were not parts that were designed to wear out. (Petroski 271) Evidently NASA knew that there was a seal problem with the boosters and continued using them for the next five years until an accident occurred. Another matter entirely is that the booster seals made to flex and seal properly in cold temperatures. (Petroski 271) At the hearings during the presidential commission’s

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