Free Essay On Tragedy Of The Space Shuttle Challenger
The space shuttle Challenger is the disaster that took place in Jan 28th, 1986. The American Shuttle Orbit Challenger broke apart a few seconds after launching. The Shuttle Orbit Challenger broke apart only 73 minutes after the flight exploring into a forking plume of smoke and fire. The tragedy resulted in the death of all the seven crew members who were on board. The remains of the spacecraft fell into Atlantic Ocean and disintegrated. The Challenger accident marked a lesson to engineers all over the world that proper design and safety is very vital when handling delicate machines such as spacecraft. Though the engineers had warned that cold weather could adversely affect the O-rings, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) did not take any action and instead allowed the spacecraft to fly. The temperature during the launch of the Challenger was so cold and far much beyond the coldest launch and the severe cold temperatures lead to the damage of the O-ring of the space challenges leading to a severe disaster.
Causes of the Space Shuttle Challenger accident
The main cause of the Space Shuttle Challenger accident was extremely cold temperatures leading the failure of the O-ring. The low overnight temperatures of about 18 ̊ F resulted in Solid Rocket Motor temperatures being below the red line of 40 ̊ F. The resultant low temperatures led to the accumulation of ice on the launch pad. Ice accumulation led to super cooling of air blowing on the joint from the liquid oxygen vent. The temperature at the vent was far much lower than both air temperature and design specification temperatures. The low temperature resulted in failure in the joint between the lower segments of the right SRM (Vaughan 158). The seals which are meant to prevent the hot gases from leaking got destructed. This destruction led to leaking of the hot gases through the joint during when the burn propelled. Poor design the ring also caused the structural failure on the O-ring. The design of the ring was said to be rigid. The design of the ring did not allow redundancy in the case of failure of the primary O-ring.
Additionally, there were cultural problems within the management that resulted in the accident. The NASA team ignored the recommendations of the engineers regarding the launch. According to the engineers, the temperature was very cold far much beyond the launch temperatures. They presented this information to the NASA before the launch and recommended the management to suspend the launch until the temperatures go up. However, the NASA ignored the decision to delay the launch. Additionally, they refused to problems brought them the launch decision team and, as a result, the launch was authorized resulting in disaster. Further, the size of the workforce could not sustain the proposed flight rate but NASA did take that into consideration.
Effects of the Space Shuttle Challenger accident
The disaster led to the loss of lives the seven astronauts. The incident was a major setback in the space shuttle programs and started questioning the performance of the entire NASA operations. Friends and relatives the astronauts who died were in grief and disbelief (Evans 247). As a result of the accident, there was extensive media coverage of the disaster, and that forced NASA to suspend all the shuttle missions temporarily. However, the Challenger accident left an educational legacy. Just to mention, crews’ family members formed the Challenger Center for Space and Science Education program.
Additionally, the space shuttle programs were changed in several ways. All the satellite launches got changed from the shuttle to reusable rockets. Furthermore, duties such as satellites repair and maintenance were struck off from astronauts. To add on this, Man Maneuvering Unit was not allowed to fly again, reason being to preserve the safety. Just to mention, civilians such as journalists were not allowed to fly for 22 years.
In conclusion, the Space Shuttle Challenger accident is still in the memory of the people of the US up to date. The seven crews on board died, and the entire management of NASA was shaken up. The main cause being technical failures, engineers have to learn a lesson from the incident by providing good designs and backups. Finally, the management should make proper decisions and consider any recommendation brought before them.
Evans, Ben. Space shuttle challenger: ten journeys into the unknown. Springer Science & Business Media, 2007. (UK)
Vaughan, Diane. The Challenger launch decision: Risky technology, culture, and deviance at NASA. University of Chicago Press, 1997.