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Tue Feb 7, 2012, 01:33 PM

Roger Boisjoly dies at 73; engineer tried to halt Challenger launch

By Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times
February 7, 2012

The 1986 explosion that destroyed the space shuttle Challenger and killed seven astronauts shocked the nation, but for one rocket engineer the tragedy became a personal burden and created a lifelong quest to challenge the bureaucratic ethics that had caused the tragedy.

Roger Boisjoly was an engineer at solid rocket booster manufacturer Morton Thiokol and had begun warning as early as 1985 that the joints in the boosters could fail in cold weather, leading to a catastrophic failure of the casing. Then on the eve of the Jan. 28, 1986, launch, Boisjoly and four other space shuttle engineers argued late into the night against the launch.

In cold temperatures, o-rings in the joints might not seal, they said, and could allow flames to reach the rocket's metal casing. Their pleas and technical theories were rejected by senior managers at the company and NASA, who told them they had failed to prove their case and that the shuttle would be launched in freezing temperatures the next morning. It was among the great engineering miscalculations in history.

A little more than a minute after launch, flames shot out of the booster joint, melted through the nearby hydrogen fuel tank and ignited a fireball that was watched by the astronauts' families and much of the nation on television. Boisjoly could not watch the launch, so certain was he that the shuttle would blow up. In the months and years that followed, the disaster changed his career and permanently poisoned his view that NASA could be trusted to make the right decisions when matters came to life and death.

Read more:
http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-roger-boisjoly-20120207,0,2248999.story

60 replies, 9240 views

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Reply Roger Boisjoly dies at 73; engineer tried to halt Challenger launch (Original post)
Lionel Mandrake Feb 2012 OP
CaliforniaPeggy Feb 2012 #1
no_hypocrisy Feb 2012 #11
CaliforniaPeggy Feb 2012 #12
former9thward Feb 2012 #14
no_hypocrisy Feb 2012 #21
hedgehog Feb 2012 #32
Kolesar Feb 2012 #50
Cassandra Feb 2012 #54
Hassin Bin Sober Feb 2012 #59
former9thward Feb 2012 #60
indepat Feb 2012 #24
dairydog91 Feb 2012 #53
BlueMTexpat Feb 2012 #42
ProfessorGAC Feb 2012 #52
madokie Feb 2012 #47
rhett o rick Feb 2012 #2
Blue_Tires Feb 2012 #7
exboyfil Feb 2012 #25
Uncle Joe Feb 2012 #15
eomer Feb 2012 #27
rhett o rick Feb 2012 #28
Lionel Mandrake Feb 2012 #31
rhett o rick Feb 2012 #36
eomer Feb 2012 #43
rhett o rick Feb 2012 #48
benld74 Feb 2012 #3
Boombaby Feb 2012 #5
PDJane Feb 2012 #4
DallasNE Feb 2012 #6
Blue_Tires Feb 2012 #10
burrowowl Feb 2012 #8
denbot Feb 2012 #9
Blue_Tires Feb 2012 #13
Lochloosa Feb 2012 #18
Uncle Joe Feb 2012 #16
Lionel Mandrake Feb 2012 #26
rocktivity Feb 2012 #17
LeftinOH Feb 2012 #19
tawadi Feb 2012 #20
edbermac Feb 2012 #22
slutticus Feb 2012 #23
Lionel Mandrake Feb 2012 #29
catrose Feb 2012 #30
MadLinguist Feb 2012 #38
catrose Feb 2012 #39
hedgehog Feb 2012 #33
TrogL Feb 2012 #34
Skittles Feb 2012 #35
sendero Feb 2012 #37
Zoeisright Feb 2012 #40
Hassin Bin Sober Feb 2012 #58
SoCalDemGrrl Feb 2012 #41
Surya Gayatri Feb 2012 #44
solarman350 Feb 2012 #45
malaise Feb 2012 #46
4_TN_TITANS Feb 2012 #49
ProfessorGAC Feb 2012 #51
Gabi Hayes Feb 2012 #55
GreatCaesarsGhost Feb 2012 #56
obamanut2012 Feb 2012 #57

Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 01:40 PM

1. NASA did a horrible, horrible thing, when they refused to listen to him.

All those astronauts dead........for what?

Criminal behavior on the part of NASA.

Just horrifying.

May he rest in peace, at last.

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 03:08 PM

11. Not just NASA.

I always had the impression the White House (Reagan) put pressure on NASA to launch no matter what on that date. They were investing a lot of their prestige on having the first public school teacher on board as the first civilian to ride on a space shuttle and who would actually link up and teach a science class on board (Christa McAuliffe). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christa_McAuliffe

The White House IMO is responsible for her and the other astronauts' deaths and damn Reagan for his compensating eulogy of how the astronauts went to "touch the face of God". He was complicit in their deaths.

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Reply #11)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 03:13 PM

12. Thank you for that information.

I was unaware of the White House's complicity in this tragedy.

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Reply #11)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 03:17 PM

14. Is this just more CT stuff?

Where is a link to actual evidence Reagan or anyone else put pressure on NASA "to launch no matter what"? This blaming Reagan for anything that ever went wrong is just crazy.

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Response to former9thward (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 03:58 PM

21. Here's what I could find online. I remember the discussion well in 1986 when it happened. Conceded

there was strong suspicion but no evidence found to be conclusive.

Twenty-five years ago, millions of television viewers were horrified to witness the live broadcast of the space shuttle Challenger exploding 73 seconds into flight, ending the lives of the seven astronauts on board. And they were equally horrified to learn in the aftermath of the disaster that the faulty design had been chosen by NASA to satisfy powerful politicians who had demanded the mission be launched, even under unsafe conditions.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11031097/ns/technology_and_science-space/t/myths-about-challenger-shuttle-disaster/

Ronald Reagan was supposed to give his State of the Union address the night of launch. After the crash a number of rumors surfaced that the Whitehouse pressured the shuttle to launch over NASA concerns because Reagan wanted to incorporate the astronauts in his speech. The rumors were taken seriously enough to be investigated by commissions into the cause of Challenger crash but no evidence of Whitehouse pressure was found.
http://www.famouspictures.org/mag/index.php?title=Challenger#Whitehouse_Pressure.3F

Pressure also came from the White House, as President Reagan wanted to mention astronaut Christa McAuliffe as the first teacher in space in his State of the Union Address that afternoon.
http://sarahaskew.net/2011/02/06/remembering-remembering-challenger/

But presidential commissions are also created to deflect political repercussions. What they did not report was the likely pressure coming from the White House to get the shuttle into orbit so that the Teacher in Space, Christa McAuliffe, would be aloft when President Ronald Reagan gave his state of the union speech that night.
http://www.richardccook.com/2011/01/10/speech-by-richard-c-cook-to-commemorate-25th-anniversary-of-challenger-disaster/

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Reply #21)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 06:23 PM

32. Don't forget, a phone call doesn't leave a track

the way e-mail does today!

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Reply #21)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 10:05 AM

50. Well done

I mean your compilation, not the government.

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Response to former9thward (Reply #14)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 11:27 AM

54. The launch had been delayed multiple times...

and NASA was being portrayed badly. There was quite a bit of media and probably political pressure to just launch already.

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Response to former9thward (Reply #14)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 12:50 AM

59. Ooooh defense of Reagan. Imagine that!

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Response to Hassin Bin Sober (Reply #59)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 11:36 AM

60. Ooooh you building a strawman. Imagine that!

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Reply #11)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 04:44 PM

24. The Gipper complicit. Tell me it ain't true, Joe

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Response to indepat (Reply #24)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 10:53 AM

53. It ain't true, Joe.

It's getting pretty silly to blame Reagan for blowing up the shuttle. Was Reagan somehow deeply committed to putting a teacher in space? Was it going to be a major part of his speech? Challenger disintegrated in 1986, so why would Reagan even particularly care if he got 100% of the applause lines he wanted, seeing as how he wasn't worrying about reelection at this point? Just because he would have liked to mention it doesn't mean that he was maniacally committed to the idea. Also, Challenger was carrying a communications satellite, and whichever government agency wanted that up had a far more personal interest in getting Challenger up ASAP.

Second, a Challenger-style failure was pretty much guaranteed by NASA's decision to go with the grossly-flawed shuttle design. I don't see how one can blame Reagan for decisions made in the 1970s over the shuttle design. The shuttle as launched did not have a way for astronauts to realistically survive a breakup of the launch stack (More a "bundle" in the case of the shuttle). Apollo had a system in which an emergency rocket motor could pull the entire capsule up and off the stack during launch. Shuttle had no such system; the shuttle could not jettison the crew section, and there was no realistic way to modify the shuttle to allow it that capability. Considering that launch stacks occasionally fail, using the shuttle meant that the loss of a crew was basically inevitable. Reagan had nothing to do with shuttle design; NASA sold the idea of the shuttle to Nixon and built it during the Carter administration. Reagan was simply handed this shit sandwich and told that it was a "reliable space truck". If anyone "killed" the crew of Challenger, it was NASA.

Edit: One thing to remember. Challenger's launch was delayed several times. The original launch time was on the morning of January 22nd, the disaster was on the 28th. Since it was supposed to be a six-day mission, had the original plan been followed the shuttle would have been on the ground and parked by the time Reagan would be delivering the SOTU.

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Reply #11)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 03:02 AM

42. I remember that discussion well -

but the majority simply could not believe that "Saint Ronnie" could possibly have done anything so cynical.



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Response to no_hypocrisy (Reply #11)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 10:11 AM

52. See My Post Farther Down

I said the very same thing. I've always suspected the same as did you.

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 08:57 AM

47. If I remember correctly raygun wanted that flight that day

and him being president he got his way.

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 01:42 PM

2. This was not an "engineering miscalculation". This error was a management error. The engineering

calculations were overruled and the managers should have been held accountable.

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 03:00 PM

7. yeah, that stuck out for me, too

The Kansas City Hyatt was a goddamned engineering miscalculation...

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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #7)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 05:20 PM

25. The original Hyatt design for the supporting rods was

changed by the contractor. Instead of passing the rods through the level, they suspended rods at each level effectively requiring the top rods to support the weight of multiple levels.

They did sign off on the prints. The engineers were ultimately responsible.

It is amazing what a simple Free Body Diagram can do for you. With one you could have quickly seen the problem.

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 03:22 PM

15. That's a natural corporate media, authoritarian bias coming through in the column.

It will be interesting the follow this story as it's reported by the corporate media's television divisions and see if they describe the Challenger tragedy as an "engineering miscalculatioin," versus the management error for which it was.

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 05:31 PM

27. The managers were also engineers.

At the crucial moment of decision they were asked to "take off your engineer hat and put on your manager hat".

They were capable of considering the technical merits and decided to instead be swayed by the politics.

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Response to eomer (Reply #27)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 05:39 PM

28. In my book, once you become a manager, you stop being an engineer. nm

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #28)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 06:21 PM

31. Alan McDonald didn't stop being an engineer.

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Reply #31)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 07:28 PM

36. I was generalizing. A problem I see is that when you have engineers as managers

in my experience, they think they have to make the engineering decisions instead of their experts. It becomes an ego thing.

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #36)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 03:11 AM

43. Robert Lund's position at Morton Thiokol was "VP of Engineering".

In my opinion a person who is VP of Engineering at a company whose primary product is engineering (and in the field of rocket science, at that) ought to be an expert. If he's not then he should step aside for someone who is.

The problem, in my opinion, was pressuring engineers to go along with a political decision. They needed the decision to come from engineers but they didn't really want an engineering-based decision; they wanted the decision they wanted. This is similar to the way that right-wingers want scientists to say that anthropogenic global climate change does not exist. They need that assessment to come from scientists but have to pressure scientists to stop doing science in order to get the assessment they want.

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Response to eomer (Reply #43)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 09:18 AM

48. I agree up to a certain level. However, good engineers dont necessarily

make good managers. At some level the manager needs to rely on his/her experts and not do the engineering themselves. I have seen too often that a good engineer gets promoted to management, then thinks he/she should out engineer the experts.

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 01:43 PM

3. RIP - You DID what you COULD, the shuttle astronauts will tell you that soon,,,,,

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Response to benld74 (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 02:03 PM

5. Amen!

 

duRec

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 01:52 PM

4. A man of honour, and a true public servant.

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 02:45 PM

6. An Example Of What Happens

When you give the CFO too much power. Think not, 5 of the top engineers were warning against this flight in this weather. Since delays add to the cost the CFO views delay as an enemy -- and the rest is history, sadly.

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Response to DallasNE (Reply #6)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 03:07 PM

10. iirc, there was also a lot of external pressure up top

because of the media coverage around McAuliffe...She was a big story and the space program had more eyes on it than usual

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 03:01 PM

8. A True Engineer

May he rest in peace.

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 03:03 PM

9. Does anyone know who was the on-site asshole that made the final decision to go for launch?

I wonder if that person ever accepted responsibility for losing that mission?

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Response to denbot (Reply #9)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 03:17 PM

13. If I'm reading this correctly, Stanley Reinartz, Shuttle Project Manager

The first phase of the teleconference began at 5:45 p. m. Eastern Standard Time; participants included Reinartz, Lovingood, Hardy, and numerous people at Kennedy, Marshall and Thiokol-Wasatch. (Allen McDonald missed this phase; he did not arrive at Kennedy until after 8:00 p.m.) Concerns for the effect of low temperature on the O-rings and the joint seal were presented by Morton Thiokol, along with an opinion that launch should be delayed. A recommendation was also made that Aldrich, Program Manager at Johnson (Level II), be informed of these concerns.

The following are excerpts from testimony before the Commission relating to the teleconference: 8



Dr. Keel: You just indicated earlier that, based upon that teleconference, you thought there was a good possibility of delay. Is that what Thiokol was recommending then, was delay?

Dr. Lovingood: That is the way I heard it, and they were talking about the 51-C experience and the fact that they had experienced the worst case blow-by as far as the arc and the soot and so forth. And also, they talked about the resiliency data that they had.

So it appeared to me-and we didn't have all of the proper people there. That was another aspect of this. It appeared to me that we had better sit down and get the data so that we could understand exactly what they were talking about and assess that data.

And that is why I suggested that we go ahead and have a telecon within the center, so that we could review that.

Dr. Keel: So as early as after that first afternoon conference at 5:45, it appeared that Thiokol was basically saying delay. Is that right?

Dr. Lovingood: That is the way it came across to me. I don't know how other people perceived it, but that's the way it came across to me.

Dr. Keel: Mr. Reinartz, how did you perceive It?

Mr. Reinartz: I did not perceive it that way. I perceived that they were raising some questions and issues which required looking into by all the right parties, but I did not perceive it as a recommendation delay.

Dr. Keel: Some prospects for delay?

Mr. Reinartz: Yes, sir, that possibility is always there.

Dr. Keel: Did you convey that to Mr. Mulloy and Mr. Hardy before the 8:15 conference?

Mr. Reinartz: Yes, I did. And as a matter of fact, we had a discussion. Mr. Mulloy was just out of communication for about an hour, and then after that I got in contact with him, and we both had a short discussion relating to the general nature of the concerns with Dr. Lucas and Mr. Kingsbury at the motel before we both departed for the telecon that we had set up out at the Cape.

Dr. Keel: But based upon that, Mr. Lovingood, that impression, you thought it was a significant enough possibility that Mr. Aldrich should have been contacted?

Dr. Lovingood: Yes.

Dr. Keel: In addition, did you recommend that Mr. Lucas, who is director of Marshall, of course, and Mr. Kingsbury, who is Mr. Hardy's boss, participate in the 8:15 conference?

Dr. Lovingood: Yes, I did.

Dr. Keel: And you recommended that to whom?

Dr. Lovingood: I believe I said that over the net. I said that I thought we ought to have an inter-center meeting involving Dr. Lucas and Mr. Kingsbury, and then plan to go on up the line to Level II and Level I.

And then it was after we broke off that first telecon I called Stan at the motel and told him that he ought to go ahead and alert Arnie to that possibility.

Dr. Keel: And Mr. Reinartz, you then visited the motel room of Mr. Lucas with Mr. Kingsbury, and also was Mr. Mulloy with you then?

Mr. Reinartz: Yes, sir, he was. In the first couple of minutes I believe I was there by myself, and then Mr. Mulloy joined us.

Dr. Keel: And did you discuss with them Mr. Lovingood's recommendation that the two of them, Lucas and Kingsbury, participate?

Mr. Reinartz: No, sir. I don't recall discussing Mr. Lovingood's recommendations. I discussed with them the nature of the telecon, the nature of the concerns raised by Thiokol, and the plans to gather the proper technical support people at Marshall for examination of the data. And I believe that was the essence of the discussion.

Chairman Rogers: But you didn't recommend that the information be given to Level II or Level I?

Mr. Reinartz: I don't recall that I raised that issue with Dr. Lucas. I told him what the plans were for proceeding. I don't recall, Mr. Chairman, making any statement regarding that.

Mr. Hotz: Mr. Reinartz, are you telling us that you in fact are the person who made the decision not to escalate this to a Level II item?

Mr. Reinartz: That is correct, sir.

http://history.nasa.gov/rogersrep/v1ch5.htm

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Response to denbot (Reply #9)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 03:40 PM

18. I think I found your answer denbot

The NASA officials on the line were perplexed. They were trying to establish the Space Shuttle as a regular and reliable means of conducting scientific and commercial missions in space. They had an ambitious launch schedule. Classrooms across the country were ready for the first science class taught from space. And in just a few days, during the State of the Union address, President Ronald Reagan was planning to mention Challenger's launch as a space program achievement.

NASA's Lawrence Mulloy reacted to the resistance this way: "My God, Thiokol. When do you want me to launch? Next April?" That turned the tide of the discussion. The Thiokol managers pressed their engineers to reverse themselves. When that failed, the managers simply overruled them, and submitted their own launch recommendation.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5175151

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 03:23 PM

16. RIP Roger and thanks for your service.

Thanks for the thread, Lionel Mandrake.

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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #16)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 05:26 PM

26. You're welcome.

It seemed like the least i could do.

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 03:32 PM

17. I was going to watch the launch at home and get to work a little late

Last edited Sat Dec 28, 2013, 12:54 PM - Edit history (5)

But once I learned it was 32 degrees in Florida, I left at my usual time because I didn't think for one second that they'd attempt to launch in such weather when they'd never done it before.

I arrived at work to find people gathered around the TV in a conference room. Though the temperature had skyrocketed to a scorching 36 degrees, my exact words were "They're STILL going through with it? They're CRAZY!" Nonetheless, I was still so confident that the launch would be called off that I went to my cubicle, turned on the radio and proceeded with my work day. It was the radio that told me what had happened, and I rushed back to the conference room where I saw the "replay."

I recall that the launch had already been delayed at least once. News reports suggested that NASA was under political pressure to produce results, and no doubt Morton Thiokol wanted to protect their reputation (not to mention collect their fees). Now it turns out that frozen O-rings had been a potential danger since they got off the drawing board; that the engineers had been overruled by corporate management; that another engineer was branded a whistleblower for telling the truth; that Boisjoly couldn't bring himself to watch the launch; and that NASA juggled safety and political expediency routinely.

So it turns out that I had been right: they WERE crazy.

Roger Boisjoly's career was hijacked because he did the right thing. Postponing the launch until the weather improved would have been the right thing. Doing the right thing isn't always fun or comfortable or easy or convenient -- but it IS always right.

There's no need to hope that Roger Boisjoly will rest in peace -- he's already taken care of that. So I'll call just him a great American hero and patriot, and thank him for his service.


rocktivity

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 03:43 PM

19. I thought Reagan's speech on TV that evening was wonderful....

...until I found (many years later) that it was written by Peggy Noonan, who cribbed the best lines from someone else's work. Reagan was a complete talking head.

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 03:44 PM

20. He died Jan. 6th. Not really LBN

But interesting article anyway.

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 04:05 PM

22. I remember Richard Feynman absolutely hammering NASA about the o-rings.

All he did was take some of the o-ring material and put it in a cup of ice water and show how unpliable it could get in cold weather.

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Response to edbermac (Reply #22)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 04:41 PM

23. This is a great read

http://www.amazon.com/What-Care-Other-People-Think/dp/0393320928/ref=pd_vtp_b_1

He has quite a bit about his participation in the Rogers Commission.

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Response to edbermac (Reply #22)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 05:46 PM

29. As I recall, Rogers was upset about that stunt.

Feynman was, among other things, very adept at upstaging the other players. Commission Chairman William Rogers tried to throw his weight around, but Feynman was not intimidated.

The news that day was all about Feynman and the O-rings.

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Response to edbermac (Reply #22)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 05:57 PM

30. Read "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint"

by Edward Tufte to see how the managers used PowerPoint slides to shove their decision through. Heck, the slides themselves contain the information needed to cancel the launch. But nobody actually gleans data from PowerPoint.

http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_pp

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Response to catrose (Reply #30)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 10:02 PM

38. actually, Tufte's point was that the Powerless Pointless slides failed

to convey the real import of the information. He takes the data and displays it differently. in Tufte's visualization, the same data are there, but there is no way of avoiding the conclusion that the O-rings could not stand up to such low temperatures. I think he would say that the managers could have been convinced had the engineers had a better grasp of visualization techniques.

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Response to MadLinguist (Reply #38)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 10:40 PM

39. It's been awhile since I looked at it

But I thought the presentation was a manager's production, because the slides kept rah-rahing the idea that nothing could happen, even though the very few (possibly single) statistic given in no way supported that idea. Something on the lines of "Let's take a number and extrapolate 600 times..."



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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 06:29 PM

33. I think it is better for your career to stand by and let bad things happen

than to get known as a whistle blower. I've been there and I ended up getting laid off. Not only that, but I was laid off from another job in a manner that suggested to me that the word had gone out on an old boy's network.

So, extra kudos to Mr. Boisjoly!


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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 07:00 PM

34. I attended a communications class that attempted to blame Boisjoly

I set the instructor straight pretty quick as a perfect example of management failing to listen to its own employees, not a failure to communicate.

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Response to TrogL (Reply #34)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 07:20 PM

35. CORRECT

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Tue Feb 7, 2012, 09:23 PM

37. I still remember vividly...

. when I heard the news of this. And in the coming days how sickened I was to learn that this is was an idiotic management decision that caused these deaths.

At that point I realized NASA was done but it would take the Columbia disaster to cement that reality.

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 01:33 AM

40. I will never forget that day. It's my birthday.

I was watching TV on mute, talking to my mom on the phone. All of a sudden CBS interrupts with breaking news. I still had the sound off, so I saw it happen like it was happening in real time.

BTW, the nation wasn't "watching it on television." Shuttle launches were pretty old hat by that time, so it wasn't shown live on the national stations, even though Christa McAuliffe was on board.

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Response to Zoeisright (Reply #40)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 12:47 AM

58. IIRc, CNN had cut awayt to commercial. I had CNN on but didn't see it live.

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 02:40 AM

41. Wow! Read this obit in the LA Times this a.m. & had never heard his story b4-Shocking!!!!!!

I don't know if my family was not paying attention or what... we read the L.A. Times daily, but this was a shocker.... until this obit, we were not aware of this gentleman or his prescient warnings re the shuttle.

Media coverup or were our heads in the sand????????

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 03:59 AM

44. Blessed be the truth-tellers...

for they shall be vindicated.

Be they pilloried, punished or prosecuted, in the cosmic scheme of things, they will ultimately be rewarded for defending Dharma.

Well done, Mr. Boisjoly. You did your duty while others shirked theirs.

SG



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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 05:08 AM

45. NASA Was Trying to Go from R&D to Operational Status and Pushed by Reagan to do so

 

--as quickly as possible. They were trying to achieve at least two flights per month...24 flights per year. The Reagan White House pushed them to rush through finishing their R&D phase. As a graduate student at the University of Houston, I was contracted by NASA (before the Challenger Accident) to study and derive a method that NASA could use to achieve "Operational Status" with the STS ("Space Transportation System) Program. My colleague and I came up with a strategic management solution that called for a concurrent management structure involving two teams:

1. Transition Management Team (to go from R&D to Operational Status with STS)
2. Business-as-Usual Management Team

We presented our findings to NASA Houston, and then waited to see if they would implement them. Our management (style) suggestions appeared not to go anywhere, and a few months later, Challenger perished shortly after launch. NASA never got to that two flights per month goal, nor did it ever achieve operational/airline-like status for the STS. The General Public grew bored of human spaceflight, even with the advent of the ISS (International Space Station). A pleasant (so far) surprising bump in that rug though has been the congressionally-approved commercial space transportation movement (SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, etc.). Hopefully, the "greyhairs" from STS will mentor the newbies involved in that movement to the extent that we won't see another Challenger-type tragedy. A new space transportation age could then dawn, and further increase Civilization's probability of surviving in spite of itself.

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 08:35 AM

46. Ignore engineers and scientists at your peril

R.I.P. wise man.

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 09:22 AM

49. Wow... first I've heard of this.

And I have an uncle retired from Redstone in Huntsville, AL who helped design the life support systems for the shuttles!

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 10:09 AM

51. I Remember Him

There was a very good docudrama on one of the history channels. His character was done VERY sympathetically.

To this day, i will never accept that the launch was done against the advice of experts because Reagan had the "teacher in space" thing in the SOTU speech.

I will always believe someone from the WH made a call and said "You WILL launch that mission." No proof, just a suspicion that is supported by everything else that administration did.

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 08:32 PM

55. ''...as the vehicle cleared the tower Bob whispered to me that we had just dodged a bullet.''

I'll NEVER forget Boisjoly saying these words in an interview I saw years ago.

here's the rest, in his own words, which will make you sick to your stomach:

http://cc.bingj.com/cache.aspx?q=Boisjoly+we+dodged+a+bullet&d=4826177886880893&mkt=en-US&setlang=en-US&w=1211d80f,afdbce52

It was approximately five minutes prior to the launch as I was walking past the room used to view launches when Bob Ebeling stepped out to encourage me to enter and watch the launch. At first I refused, but he finally persuaded me to watch the launch. The room was filled, so I seated myself on the floor closest to the screen and leaned against Bob's legs as he was seated in a chair.

The boosters ignited, and as the vehicle cleared the tower Bob whispered to me that we had just dodged a bullet. At approximately T+60 seconds Bob told me that he had just completed a prayer of thanks to the Lord for a successful launch.

Just 13 seconds later we both saw the horror of destruction as the vehicle exploded. We all sat in stunned silence for a short time, then I got up and left the room and went directly to my office, where I remained the rest of the day.

more here:

http://temp.onlineethics.org/essays/shuttle/index.html

Essay by Roger Boisjoly.
A background summary of important events leading to the Challenger disaster starting with January, 1985, plus the specifics of the telecon meeting held the night prior to the launch at which an attempt was made to stop the launch by the Morton Thiokol engineers. In the essay he argues that the off-line telecon caucus by Morton Thiokol Management constituted the unethical decision-making forum which ultimately produced the management decision to launch Challenger without any restrictions.



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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 08:46 PM

56. IIRC, the plan was to have Reagan talk to the astronauts LIVE from the SOTU, not just mentioning it,

thus being the first president to do so. One has to remember that Reagan was nothing but a photo-op president.

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Response to Lionel Mandrake (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 10:06 PM

57. Very interesting article

I was watching the launch live on TV when the shuttle exploded.

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