Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Scobee, Smith, Resnik, Onizuka, McNair, Jarvis & McAuliffe:

...and today is the anniversary of the STS-51L Challenger disaster.
For the United States, such a loss is a very public thing, and the political consequences are large. Public hearings occur, fingers are pointed, and occasionally the problem is fixed. The hearings that followed Challenger eventually determined that a breakdown had occurred in communications between the government launch decision and the contractor´s opinion of the safety of low temperature launches. Morton Thiokol knew that low temperatures made for leaky joints on the SRBs, but they could not effectively convince the correct decision-makers. The intense pressure caused by public scrutiny of the Teacher In Space Program made each successive launch delay more embarrassing, and the hurried presentation by Thiokol to NASA was not enough to stop the momentum of the public pressure.

I was very glad to see that NASA has restarted a Teacher In Space-like program, and that some of the previous candidates have come back. I will salute them as they glide by overhead.


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