An analysis of the events surrounding the space shuttle challenger explosion

After undergoing months of training, she was set to become the first ordinary American citizen to travel into space. However, these warnings went unheeded, and at Seventy-three seconds later, hundreds on the ground, including the families of McAuliffe and the other astronauts on board, stared in disbelief as the shuttle broke up in a plume of smoke and fire.

An analysis of the events surrounding the space shuttle challenger explosion

The factory joints were sealed with asbestos-silica insulation applied over the joint, while each field joint was sealed with two rubber O-rings. After the destruction of Challenger, the number of O-rings per field joint was increased to three.

During the Space Shuttle design processa McDonnell Douglas report in September discussed the safety record of solid rockets. While a safe abort was possible after most types of failures, one was especially dangerous: As originally designed by Thiokol, the O-ring joints in the SRBs were supposed to close more tightly due to forces generated at ignition, but a test showed that when pressurized water was used to simulate the effects of booster combustion, the metal parts bent away from each other, opening a gap through which gases could leak.

This phenomenon, known as "joint rotation," caused a momentary drop in air pressure. This made it possible for combustion gases to erode the O-rings. In the event of widespread erosion, a flame path could develop, causing the joint to burst—which would have destroyed the booster and the shuttle.

For example, one engineer suggested that joint rotation would render the secondary O-ring useless, but Hardy did not forward these memos to Thiokol, and the field joints were accepted for flight in Even after the O-rings were redesignated as "Criticality 1"—meaning that their failure would result in the destruction of the Orbiter—no one at Marshall suggested that the shuttles be grounded until the flaw could be fixed.

In the post-flight analysis, Thiokol engineers found that the amount of blow-by was relatively small and had not impinged upon the secondary O-ring, and concluded that for future flights, the damage was an acceptable risk.

However, after the Challenger disaster, Thiokol engineer Brian Russell identified this event as the first "big red flag" regarding O-ring safety. Perhaps most concerning was the launch of STSB in Aprilflown by Challenger, in which the worst O-ring damage to date was discovered in post-flight analysis.

The primary O-ring of the left nozzle had been eroded so extensively that it had failed to seal, and for the first time hot gases had eroded the secondary O-ring.

This tang would grip the inner face of the joint and prevent it from rotating. They did not call for a halt to shuttle flights until the joints could be redesigned, but rather treated the problem as an acceptable flight risk.

Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster FAQ: What Went Wrong

NASA decided to use Casablanca as the TAL site, but because it was not equipped for night landings, the launch had to be moved to the morning Florida time. Predictions of unacceptable weather at KSC on January 26, caused the launch to be rescheduled for First, one of the micro-switch indicators, used to verify that the hatch was safely locked, malfunctioned.

The Shuttle was never certified to operate in temperatures that low. The O-rings, as well as many other critical components, had no test data to support any expectation of a successful launch in such conditions.

Bob Ebeling in October wrote a memo—titled "Help! NASA manager Jud Lovingood responded that Thiokol could not make the recommendation without providing a safe temperature. The company prepared for a teleconference two hours later during which it would have to justify a no-launch recommendation.

An analysis of the events surrounding the space shuttle challenger explosion

Several engineers most notably Ebeling and Roger Boisjoly reiterated their concerns about the effect of low temperatures on the resilience of the rubber O-rings that sealed the joints of the SRBs, and recommended a launch postponement.

This was an important consideration, since the SRB O-rings had been designated as a "Criticality 1" component, meaning that there was no backup if both the primary and secondary O-rings failed, and their failure could destroy the Orbiter and kill its crew.

During the conference call, Hardy told Thiokol, "I am appalled. I am appalled by your recommendation. This was unproven, and was in any case an argument that did not apply to a "Criticality 1" component. Ice had accumulated all over the launch pad, raising concerns that ice could damage the shuttle upon lift-off.

This was believed to be the result of supercooled air blowing on the joint from the liquid oxygen LOX tank vent.


It was much lower than the air temperature and far below the design specifications for the O-rings. Tests and adjusted calculations later confirmed that the temperature of the joint was not substantially different from the ambient temperature.

The temperature on the day of the launch was far lower than had been the case with previous launches: Although the Ice Team had worked through the night removing ice, engineers at Rockwell still expressed concern. Rockwell engineers watching the pad from their headquarters in Downey, Californiawere horrified when they saw the amount of ice.

An analysis of the events surrounding the space shuttle challenger explosion

Aldrich decided to postpone the shuttle launch by an hour to give the Ice Team time to perform another inspection. After that last inspection, during which the ice appeared to be melting, Challenger was cleared to launch at Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.

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Challenger Explosion | ThinkReliability, Case Studies

January Learn how and when to remove this template message Gray smoke escaping from the right side SRB The following account of the accident is derived from real time telemetry data and photographic analysis, as well as from transcripts of air-to-ground and mission control voice communications.M any pilots and aviation professionals have expressed significant criticism of the 9/11 Commission Report.

Several even allege government complicity in the terrible acts of 9/ This page of the website is a collection of their statements. The website does not represent any organization and it should be made clear that none of these individuals are affiliated with this website. In the post-flight analysis, the Challenger explosion was still an important event that many children easily remembered.

Continuation of the Shuttle Program and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster. Up to that point, no one directly involved in the decision to launch Challenger had published a memoir about the experience. Range Rat Signin Book (RRBOOK) Listing select * from rrbook order by date desc.

This is what a successful digital transformation looks like, based on research into the characteristics of enterprises that have succeeded with transformations in real life. An overview of the space shuttle Challenger accident as we look back on the tragedy that occurred 25 years ago this week.


Analysis later showed that a seal, called an O-ring, on the shuttle's. [This was a paper hastily whipped together, some years ago, to be able to send an abbreviated background paper to correspondents. The history prior to this paper runs from Hamilton and his quaternions to Maxwell and his quatemion theory, to Heaviside's vector curtailment of Maxwell's theory, to Nikola Tesla, to Whittaker, to Einstein and relativity, to Kaluza and Klein, and to the beginning of.

Patriots Question 9/11 - Responsible Criticism of the 9/11 Commission Report