[LINK] Finally up to date on the Shuttle
Mon, 3 Feb 2003 10:20:19 +1000
Noting Jeff Fulton's correction about the company name, thanks for the
Jan, you're right - it's not 'just a Yank thing'. It's a "manager thing".
Not only do managers resent any engineering advice that might cost money,
but there's a more general resentment and even propaganda against
engineering and scientific expertise in general. The immortal quote from
some goof in Sydney Water at the time of the giardia crisis stays with me,
"But engineers always want to gold-plate everything" (which was said AFTER
the cost-cut purification systems failed and gave people a life-threatening
Over the next few days, all manner of ignorant people will defend their
decisions; and they will do their best to hide the fact that their sole
expertise comes from the whisperings of an accountant at one elbow and a
lawyer at the other.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Stilgherrian [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Monday, 3 February 2003 07:20
> To: Link
> 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?
> Stilgherrian <email@example.com>
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