Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster It Term Paper

Length: 10 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Astronomy Type: Term Paper Paper: #8488857 Related Topics: Office Space, Aeronautics, Nasa, Astronomy
Excerpt from Term Paper :

There was one thing or the other to delay the launch of the Challenger, until the D-Day, when the shuttle was launched at 11:38 AM as against the scheduled take off time of 9:38 AM on January 28. About seventy three seconds into the mission, the Challenger exploded in mid air, and all the seven crew members were killed instantaneously. For the hundreds of people, the family and friends and others who had gathered at the site to watch the launching of the Challenger, it was a sight that they would never be able to forget. They were forced to watch helplessly and fearfully, as the fiery flames consumed their loved ones. The entire nation, which was watching events as they unfolded on their television sets, was rendered speechless. (Challenger Disaster, a National Tragedy)

Ronald Reagan, the President of the United States of America at the time, stated, "Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core over the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss. Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But we've never lost an astronaut in flight. We've never had a tragedy like this. and, perhaps, we've forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle. But the Challenger Seven were aware of the dangers and overcame them and did their job brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes." (Challenger Disaster, a National Tragedy) This was a touching speech of the President of America that summed up his feelings, and also the feelings of the entire nation. (Challenger Disaster, a National Tragedy)

President Reagan, however, did not stop at this. He immediately appointed a team of people, who would be responsible for investigating the causes of the disaster of the Challenger, and to analyze whether it could have been prevented in any way at all. Incidentally, the team included former secretary of state William Rogers, former astronaut Neil Armstrong and former test pilot Chuck Yeager. Upon detailed investigations and examinations, the team was able to determine to a certain level, that the cause of the mishap was that the 'O-Ring' had failed. The O-Ring was a seal in the solid-fuel rocket fixed on the right side of the Challenger, and perhaps the seal had a faulty design. When this faulty design was combined with the adverse weather conditions, as mentioned above, it eventually allowed hot gases to leak in through the joint that was not sealed properly. This resulted in booster rocket flames being able to pass through the space that had been left unsealed, and this served to grossly enlarge the small hole. (Challenger Disaster, a National Tragedy)

The flames that had thus entered managed to burn through the external fuel tank of the Challenger, and also through one of the supports that had been serving the purpose of attaching the booster to the side of the fuel tank. Soon enough, the booster had broken loose, and fallen through, thereby colliding with the fuel tank. This managed to penetrate the side of the fuel tank, and this resulted in liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuels mixing with each other. This caused the Space Shuttle Challenger to tear apart and burst into flames. What made this tragedy even worse was the important fact that apart form the faulty design that had caused the O-Ring to fail to seal properly, the fault could be laid squarely on the NASA officials, who had been warned by NASA engineers of the chances of such a thing happening well in advance. (Challenger Disaster, a National Tragedy)

As the NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin put it on the tenth anniversary of the disaster of the space mission Challenger, one of the best ways in which one can honor the memories of the men and the women who so bravely went ahead on a space mission so that they would be able to teach the world something, and who had to give up their very lives in the pursuit of such learning, would be to "continue their bold tradition of exploration and innovation," at least as far as the exploration of space is concerned. (Administrator Goldin issues statement on Tenth Anniversary of Challenger Observance) This is exactly what, stated the Administrator, NASA even today endeavors to achieve. NASA's mission is to...


This would ensure that people have a better life tomorrow, and that discoveries made by launching space shuttles like the Challenger, for example, would help in the pursuit of security for people. he further went on to say that as a part of the great space effort that NASA was conducting, he was aware that safety must remain, and has always remained one of the prime concerns of NASA, and that NASA had always made sure that safety would never be relegated to second place. However, at the same time, stated Goldin, "...But human beings have always taken great risks to reap great rewards. Space flight is inherently dangerous and every member of the NASA team understands those risks" (Administrator Goldin issues statement on Tenth Anniversary of Challenger Observance)

James Oberg, the NBC News Space Analyst spoke to MSNBC recently about the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. In a touching treatise, he said that the families and friends of those on board the Challenger had been stunned beyond belief when the space shuttle went up in flames a mere seventy seconds after it had been launched. Immediately afterwards, the families had to bear the news that it was in actuality a small faulty and malfunctioning piece of equipment that had caused this monumental tragedy that left seven astronauts dead, the O-ring, as mentioned earlier. The families were left further horrified at the truth that the NASA had chosen this type of faulty design so that they would be able to better please the politicians who were involved in an unholy nexus, and who had demanded that the space shuttle be launched despite proof and evidence of bad weather conditions, which would most probably result in disaster. Another major factor that must be considered in the entire debacle, said James Oberg, was that the NASA engineers had been forced to use a lower quality sealant for the space shuttle Challenger due to environmental reasons. (7 myths about the Challenger Shuttle Disaster)

Eventually, the NASA consoled itself by issuing several statements that it was 'unsafe' and inherently dangerous for a human being to cross frontiers, and to venture into uncharted territories, in this case, the lunch into space. This danger was an accepted risk by all the participants of any space shuttle program, and all the participants were aware of the fact, NASA had said. Therefore, such a disaster and tragedy was to be expected, and there was no surprise in it, although it was indeed a tragedy. Although this is the story that has been repeated endlessly by the media and others through time, James Oberg states that according to space flight historians, the disaster of the Challenger Space Shuttle has been shrouded in myth and mystery, and nobody has been able to come forward with the real and actual truth of what actually caused such a disaster. Almost all the statements issued by the press has been found to be inaccurate, and it is time that one dispelled these myths and finally faced the truth of what actually went wrong with the Space Shuttle Challenger that it burst into flames mere seconds after it was launched, thus killing all the seven members on board. (7 myths about the Challenger Shuttle Disaster)

The issue today is this: will such a disaster happen again? Can the NASA give a guarantee that such tragedies will not take place again? Can such guarantees be given, as a matter of fact? Will the space exploration endeavors taking place today go on unhindered into the future? Would the risks be mitigated, or would there be added risks to the crew on board the space shuttles, who risk all in order to enter the shuttles, in the only hope that they would be able to share their learning experiences aboard the shuttles, with the other people on earth. When the Challenger disaster took place, seventy two seconds after it was launched, there had been doubts about the safety of the launch, and of the seven crew members, men and women. Although the accident can be described in starkly real terms, as the result of a half billion gallons of liquid fuel vaporizing, this was a great disaster for those involved directly in the launch. Although nobody was really aware of what had really happened…

Sources Used in Documents:


Administrator Goldin issues statement on Tenth Anniversary of Challenger Observance.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration. January 16, 1996.

Baura, Gail D. Engineering ethics, an industrial perspective.

Academic Press. 2006.

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