[LINK] Finally up to date on the Shuttle

Jeff Fulton jefff@fulton.net.au
Mon, 3 Feb 2003 08:50:11 +1100


I think it was Morton Thiokol, not General Dynamics.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Stilgherrian" <contour@prussia.net>
To: "Link" <link@anu.edu.au>
Sent: Monday, February 03, 2003 8:20 AM
Subject: Re: [LINK] Finally up to date on the Shuttle


> Just on the O-ring point...
> 
> At 07:47 +1100 3/2/03, Jan Whitaker wrote:
> >Re the O-rings, I know a guy here who did a complete analysis of the 
> >chain of events on that for future risk management preparation. 
> >Actually, Ann, certain people knew 100% that the O-rings weren't 
> >engineered to these conditions.  The problem was that the top brass 
> >ignored the engineering advice -- but I can't remember the reason 
> >for ignoring it -- there was one.
> 
> The decision to "not mention" to O-ring problem wasn't made by NASA 
> but by the contracting firm that produced the solid-fuel boosters. 
> (From memory it was General Dynamics, but don't quote me on that.) 
> The engineers within the company were aware of and worried about the 
> problem because of the low air temperature at Challenger's launch, 
> and they wanted to scrub the launch on that basis.
> 
> However the company in question had previously had reliability 
> problems with the solid-fuel ballistic missiles they were also 
> producing (Minuteman?), and feared that a reliability problem with 
> their shuttle boosters too would screw their chances of further 
> lucrative missile contracts. So management "make a  management 
> decision" to not pass on the engineers' concerns.
> 
> 
> And on this point...
> 
> >I'm also not sure that it's a 'yank' problem, either.  You gotta 
> >admit that the US space program is one of the most highly engineered 
> >things ever done.  It just isn't perfect.  Not much is.  The public 
> >just doesn't appreciate how high risk those flights have always been.
> 
> Agreed thoroughly. There have been two shuttles lost since they were 
> first introduced. Isn't that actually within the expected loss rate?
> 
> Stil
> 
> 
> -- 
> Stilgherrian <contour@prussia.net>
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