The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster Essay

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1.0 Introduction Seventy three seconds into its 10th flight, on January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart over the Atlantic Ocean, killing the seven crew members on board [1]. The Challenger was the second space shuttle constructed by NASA and had completed nine successful missions prior to the disaster. Following the accident, the shuttle program was suspended for 32 months as President Ronald Regan appointed a Commission, chaired by William P. Rogers and known as the Rogers Commission, to investigate the cause of the accident [1]. The analysis in this report will include a summary of the sequence of events leading up to the disaster, analysis of the professional ethical behaviours and responsibilities that were…show more content…
At the time, NASA’s goal was two reach two launches per month, a goal that well exceeded the budget and training facilities available [2]. The night before the launch, a teleconference between Thiokol and NASA was held to address the concerns regarding the performance of the SRB O-ring seal in cold weather. Thiokol recommended that the launch be postponed since there was no data available for temperatures below 53°F [2]. After internal discussions in the Thiokol group, senior management eventually endorsed the launch, recommending it to proceed, reversing their original decision [2]. Rockwell, the shuttle’s primary contractor, did not support the launch due to the possibility of ice leaving the structure and damaging the thermal shield tiles during takeoff. Their concerns were relayed to NASA, but in such a way that NASA chose to proceed with the launch [2]. Though this was eventually determined to be a non-issue in the Challenger launch, the true nature of the problems that can occur when an object strikes the shuttle during takeoff would not be learned until 2003, when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on re-entry due to damage of a heat shield tile that occurred during takeoff [2]--[3]. Despite the concerns raised, the Challenger was launched on January 28, 1986 [4]. Seventy three seconds after takeoff, the shuttle broke apart after the O-ring seal failed causing
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