The Space Shuttle Tragedy Of The Columbia And Challenger

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NASA has faced many tragedies during their time; but one can question if two of the tragedies were preventable by changing some critical decisions made by the organization. The investigation board looking at the decisions made for the space shuttle tragedies of the Columbia and Challenger noted that the “loss resulted as much from organizational as from technical failures” (Bolman & Deal, 2008, p. 191). The two space shuttle tragedies were about twenty years apart, they both had technical failures but politics also played a factor in to these two tragedies.
When the Challenger shuttle was set to launch NASA was feeling political pressure to gain congressional support for the space program, to help gain this support the shuttle crew had a high school teacher on board, Christa McAuliffe, and millions of people were excited and tuned into watch. NASA officials were hoping that this new endeavor would help generate funding since the U.S. budget deficit was soaring and they were afraid that their budget could be cut. Technical failure was the reason the shuttle exploding after take-off but this was not the only reason. With pressure mounting, decisions made by NASA and Morton Thiokol Corporation, the contractor who manufactured the piece with the technical failure, put political agendas in front of the technical decisions, which resulted in the tragedy (Bolman & Deal, 2008).
Political Decisions and Strategies
Using the political frame to view organizations involved in both the Challenger and Columbia tragedies help shape the outcome of the investigation board. There are five propositions that summarize the perspective of a political frame: organizations are coalitions, coalition members have enduring differences, important deci...

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...naged conflicts leads to the infighting and destructive power struggle revealed in the Challenger and Columbia cases.” The organizations did not use the potential technical issues conflict as a way to address or solve a problem but instead chose to ignore the conflict, which resulted in the loss of human life.
Examining the political frame of NASA’s coalition during these tragedies, the investigation board questioned if changing decisions could have prevented the loss of lives in the Challenger and Columbia shuttles. The failure of effectively navigate the political framework NASA put political influences above the safety of their astronauts. To prevent future catastrophes NASA needs to map the political terrain by build coalitions based on relationships, focusing on effectively managing conflicts, and properly use the power within its’ organizations.
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