The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster Essay examples

The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster Essay examples

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1.0 Introduction

Seventy three seconds into its 10th flight, on January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart over the Atlantic Ocean, killing the seven crew members on board [1]. The Challenger was the second space shuttle constructed by NASA and had completed nine successful missions prior to the disaster. Following the accident, the shuttle program was suspended for 32 months as President Ronald Regan appointed a Commission, chaired by William P. Rogers and known as the Rogers Commission, to investigate the cause of the accident [1].
The analysis in this report will include a summary of the sequence of events leading up to the disaster, analysis of the professional ethical behaviours and responsibilities that were compromised, and finally the lessons learned and recommendations to avoid such future disasters.
2.0 Sequence of Events

The Challenger space shuttle was originally scheduled to be launched from the Kennedy Space Center on January 22, 1986; however, due to delays with the previous mission, issues with the weather, and failure of some mechanical and electrical components, the launch was delayed until January 28, 1986 [2].

The forecast, however, predicted a cold morning with temperatures of -1°C, which according to technical specifications, was the lowest permissible temperature for launch. The cold temperature caused concern for two of the shuttle’s primary contractors, Morton Thiokol and Rockwell International, as the launch structure was covered with ice and the joint design in the Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) was suspected to perform poorly in cold temperatures [2].

In the mid-1980’s, the shuttle space program was the focus of the political media since it had failed to deliver on its exp...


... middle of paper ...


...lenger inquiry” [online], World Socialist Web Site, May 6, 2003 [cited March 16, 2010], available from World Wide Web:
[4] Joseph P. Kerwin, “Report to Admiral Truly”, [online], Washington, DC.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, July 28, 1986 [cited March 16, 2010], available from World Wide Web:
[5] Roger M. Boisjoly, “Telecon Meeting (Ethical Decisions – Morton Thiokol and the Challenger Disaster)” [online], Washington, DC.: National Academy of Engineering, May 15, 2006 [cited March 16, 2010], available from World Wide Web:
[6] Gordon Andrews et al, Introduction to Professional Engineering in Canada, 3rd ed., Toronto, Ont.: Pearson Education Canada, 2006.

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