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    Challenger Disaster - 25 Years Ago Today

    Canít believe itís already a quarter of century. Itís a day to mourn and to remember but itís also the day to honor their ideas and spirit.
    From Reaganís speech:
    The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."



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    Re: Challenger Disaster - 25 Years Ago Today

    I remember I was sitting in my first grade classroom watching when it happened.



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    Re: Challenger Disaster - 25 Years Ago Today

    Quote Originally Posted by cyclone13 View Post
    Can’t believe it’s already a quarter of century. It’s a day to mourn and to remember but it’s also the day to honor their ideas and spirit.
    From Reagan’s speech:
    The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."
    One of those days most people will remember where they were.

    I was in 8th grade and had just returned to school from a field trip when we were told the news. School ended almost immediately after we got back and I remember walking home wondering about what must have happened and being anxious to get to the TV.

    I remember seeing the video of Christa McAuliffe's parents. The joy turning to fear and confusion.

    A sad day, it was.


    Last edited by ruxCYtable; 01-28-2011 at 11:24 AM.

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    Re: Challenger Disaster - 25 Years Ago Today

    Did they ever determine exactly what caused the trajedy? Wasn't it something about a tiny little o ring being rigid because of the cold weather or something like that?



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    Re: Challenger Disaster - 25 Years Ago Today

    Quote Originally Posted by CYKOFAN View Post
    Did they ever determine exactly what caused the trajedy? Wasn't it something about a tiny little o ring being rigid because of the cold weather or something like that?
    Yes, that was the O-Ring. The Ring shrunk from the original size due to the freezing temperature. I recall after the result was announced, the shares of Morton Thiokol that produced the ring went nosedive.



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    Re: Challenger Disaster - 25 Years Ago Today

    Thanks. I never really understood that. Wouldn't the o-ring be in temps waaay below freezing in space? And how could Morton Thiokol and NASA not be aware that the o-ring would shrink in freezing temps?



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    Re: Challenger Disaster - 25 Years Ago Today

    I was driving around in the driver's ed car when it came on the radio.



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    Re: Challenger Disaster - 25 Years Ago Today

    Quote Originally Posted by CYKOFAN View Post
    Thanks. I never really understood that. Wouldn't the o-ring be in temps waaay below freezing in space? And how could Morton Thiokol and NASA not be aware that the o-ring would shrink in freezing temps?

    The O-rings never make it to space. They are part of the Solid Rocket Boosters that are jettisoned before reaching orbit.


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    Re: Challenger Disaster - 25 Years Ago Today

    Quote Originally Posted by CYKOFAN View Post
    Thanks. I never really understood that. Wouldn't the o-ring be in temps waaay below freezing in space? And how could Morton Thiokol and NASA not be aware that the o-ring would shrink in freezing temps?
    Both Morton Thiokol and NASA were aware of the shrinkage problem. In fact, a senior engineer at Morton Thiokol had given a "no launch" recommendation that morning but was overruled by superiors either at M-T or NASA or both. This was a huge launch (political event) for NASA, as far as public image went, as this was the first time a civilian had been on the crew, and she also happened to be a school teacher.


    Last edited by Rolling Clones; 01-28-2011 at 02:48 PM.
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    Re: Challenger Disaster - 25 Years Ago Today

    Quote Originally Posted by jtdoyle1 View Post
    I remember I was sitting in my first grade classroom watching when it happened.
    We were in the lunch room with the tvs going- I remember all of our grade school teachers scurrying about and crying or consoling. I was in first grade too.



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    Re: Challenger Disaster - 25 Years Ago Today


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    Re: Challenger Disaster - 25 Years Ago Today

    Quote Originally Posted by CYKOFAN View Post
    Thanks. I never really understood that. Wouldn't the o-ring be in temps waaay below freezing in space? And how could Morton Thiokol and NASA not be aware that the o-ring would shrink in freezing temps?
    Quote Originally Posted by Rolling Clones View Post
    The O-rings never make it to space. They are part of the Solid Rocket Boosters that are jettisoned before reaching orbit.
    Also, this is why management shouldn't make engineering decisions. Engineering at Thiokol didn't have any data for o-ring performance in temperatures that low and couldn't green-light the launch. Whatever engineering approval that was used came from Thiokol management strong-arming someone in engineering to sign-off on the decision. In turn, Thiokol management was strong-armed by NASA who was strong-armed by the administration to get the high-profile launch off on-time.

    Additionally, I've heard reports of Challenger going through some turbulence just before the accident, which supposedly contributed to the incident. Had the Challenger not gone through the turbulence it may have made it to orbit (and likely pushed this disaster onto another flight rather than avoided it all together).

    As I've been told, the joint design allowed high-temperature gas to escape from the combustion chamber and reach the metal case. This resulted in the two case segments being fused together (basically a bad weld). Such behavior had been noticed on previous flights when the boosters were inspected after their retrieval from the ocean. The turbulence encountered by Challenger caused the booster to flex, breaking the "weld". This allowed the hot gasses to escape and impinge upon the external fuel tank. The ET is very thin (save weight) and wasn't designed to protect against such temperatures. Once the flame breached the ET and reached the LOX/H2, the tank exploded, destroying the orbiter in the process. The boosters remained in-tact and continued flying until they were remotely destroyed.

    I don't mean for this to be an excuse to let engineering off the hook since the joint design left plenty to be desired (and has since been fixed), but there is a lot more to the story than simply "engineers messed up". Unfortunately, all I usually see discussed is the design shortcomings and none of the management backstory.

    Disclaimer: I interned with ATK (formerly Thiokol) in their NDT group in 2008 and 2009 (no current affiliation, though). These internships is where I was first introduced to more of the backstory (i.e., more than "the o-ring failed"), and the same info came up again in my aerospace courses.


    Quote Originally Posted by im4cyclones View Post
    [Anything] is easy if you are content to suck at it.

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    Re: Challenger Disaster - 25 Years Ago Today

    Quote Originally Posted by Rolling Clones View Post
    Both Morton Thiokol and NASA were aware of the shrinkage problem. In fact, a senior engineer at Morton Thiokol had given a "no launch" recommendation that morning but was overruled by superiors either at M-T or NASA or both. This was a huge launch (political event) for NASA, as far as public image went, as this was the first time a civilian had been on the crew, and she also happened to be a school teacher.
    Roger Boisjoly - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    Quote Originally Posted by im4cyclones View Post
    [Anything] is easy if you are content to suck at it.

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    Re: Challenger Disaster - 25 Years Ago Today

    Thanks iahawkhunter. I recall there was some political element in it, but didn't know the details of the failure and how it all came together. Very good explanation. I guess the moral is listen to the engineers and ignore the politicians. How sad it went down this way.



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    Re: Challenger Disaster - 25 Years Ago Today

    I wasn't even 2 months old when this tragedy occurred. My grandpa was fishing off of the Gulf of Mexico, and witnessed the explosion from probably 225 miles away.


    I will always remember waking up the morning of Saturday, February 1, 2003 to witness the Space Shuttle Columbia explode upon reentry to Earth.




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