When An Agenda Overrules Science And Engineering

25 Years Ago

Challenger 1986
The story of NASA’s (2nd) worst disaster. There was a “consensus” to launch.


They will never be forgotten.

10 responses to “When An Agenda Overrules Science And Engineering”

  1. Mindert Eiting

    I remember it, when we had some visitors at dinner. We looked at TV and almost did not believe it. It was six months after I defended in Amsterdam my PhD thesis about music perception.

  2. Rui

    Thank you very much.

  3. Slimething

    I was referring to Columbia, oops.

  4. Juraj V.

    I read the book from Richard Feynman about the accident investigation. I still remember the quote from NASA manager to the engineering staff “now you put down you engineering cap, put your manager hat on and ok it”
    Problems with the rubber o-rings were known to technicians from previous flights.

  5. DirkH

    The entire idea of diassembling all the systems after one flight, send parts all across the US, and re-assemble after inspection and maintenance sounded bizarre to me when i heard about it the first time. Uneconomic and an invitation for trouble.

    And they only did it this way to create pork jobs. It’s very similar to today’s Green jobs, whether in Germany, Spain or the US. It was never the best technical solution, the way they did it.

  6. Mas
  7. Viv Evans

    I remember this accident – I was struck by the tragedy and the unbearable beauty of the images of the explosion.

    Feynman’s appendix to the Challenger report bears reading again. He ends with this remark:
    “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

    Indeed Nature cannot be fooled – something certain climate modellers would be wise to bear in mind.

    Link: http://www.ralentz.com/old/space/feynman-report.html

  8. R. de Haan

    What have we learned from the Challenger accident?
    Or any accident for that matter.

    When Money, Prestige and Ambition take a seat at the table of engineering and flight operations, safety takes a hike and disaster is programmed.

    When safety decisions are made on consensus overruling engineering realities, when weather conditions become secundary to ambitious time lines ‘Murphy’ becomes a regular crew member.

    The latest incident with the new Airbus which showed a really grave fault in it’s engine design is another example of this.

    Unfortunately there is no way to stop this without reconfirming old and tested principles time after time.

    When a new class of ultra light aircraft entered the market the designers left out the fuel overflow from the carburetors.
    Without it leaking gasoline freely flows on the hot manifold.

    So just in the times of the early beginning of aviation burning planes came falling from the sky.

    Because this new class of light aircraft was not under supervision of the authorities this was not stopped for a long time.

    The Tupolev crash that killed the President of Poland and the greater part of his Government including it’s entire military command is another example. Never put all your eggs in the same basket.

    Default of principles, procedures and rules continues to haunt us.

    Somehow we continue to invent wheels that already have been invented.

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