Challenger: January 28, 1986

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Pyrrho
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Challenger: January 28, 1986

Post by Pyrrho » Sat Jan 28, 2006 4:07 am

Francis R. Scobee, Commander

Michael J. Smith, Pilot

Judith A. Resnik, Mission Specialist 1

Ellison S. Onizuka, Mission Specialist 2

Ronald E. McNair, Mission Specialist 3

Gregory B. Jarvis, Payload Specialist 1

Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Payload Specialist 2

We remember.


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Post by sparks » Sat Jan 28, 2006 4:33 pm

Nice touch. Thanks Maestro.
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Not an accident

Post by Brevabloke » Mon Jan 30, 2006 9:27 am

They didn't have to die :-( A culture of "must get this thing off the ground at all costs" was what killed them.

And the crew of Salyut-1 didn't have to die either.

For me the recent disaster of the shuttle breaking up so close to home, is somehow sadder, and upsets me more.
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corymaylett
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Re: Not an accident

Post by corymaylett » Mon Jan 30, 2006 5:29 pm

Brevabloke wrote:They didn't have to die :-( A culture of "must get this thing off the ground at all costs" was what killed them.

And the crew of Salyut-1 didn't have to die either.

Any accidental death is a tragedy.

However, placing people atop huge quantities of explosives and blasting them into space comes with inherent risks. Minimizing these risks is certainly important, but there reaches a point of diminishing returns where greater amounts progress are sacrificed for increasingly smaller gains in safety. The various national space agencies could spend the equivalent of many billions of dollars searching for potential accidents and, in the mean time, never get a spaceship off the ground.

Whether or not we should send humans into space is a separate subject for discussion, but assuming we should, there are risks that have to be accepted. There are plenty of brave people who are more than willing to take these risks. That being the case, it's time to quit dawdling like overprotective mothers and, instead, accept that the substantial danger associated with space exploration.

This preoccupation with excessive safety (along with insufficient budgets) is strangling the manned space program. It will soon be 40 years since humans walked on the moon -- maybe today's public is just too timid and afraid of dangers to go back, much less take the risks necessary to go to Mars.

Brevabloke wrote:For me the recent disaster of the shuttle breaking up so close to home, is somehow sadder, and upsets me more.

They could have just stayed home, sat on their butts and died of old age because they were too afraid to take a chance. Fortunately, there are people in the world willing to take risks.

Personally, (comparing apples to oranges) I'm much more saddened by the pointless deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians in Sudan and Iraq every day. Space program-related deaths are certainly tragedies, but a sense of proportion between various tragedies might help keep things in better perspective.

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Re: Not an accident

Post by Andy68 » Mon Jan 30, 2006 5:49 pm

Thylacine wrote:Any accidental death is a tragedy.

However, placing people atop huge quantities of explosives and blasting them into space comes with inherent risks. Minimizing these risks is certainly important, but there reaches a point of diminishing returns where greater amounts progress are sacrificed for increasingly smaller gains in safety. The various national space agencies could spend the equivalent of many billions of dollars searching for potential accidents and, in the mean time, never get a spaceship off the ground.

Whether or not we should send humans into space is a separate subject for discussion, but assuming we should, there are risks that have to be accepted. There are plenty of brave people who are more than willing to take these risks. That being the case, it's time to quit dawdling like overprotective mothers and, instead, accept that the substantial danger associated with space exploration.

This preoccupation with excessive safety (along with insufficient budgets) is strangling the manned space program. It will soon be 40 years since humans walked on the moon -- maybe today's public is just too timid and afraid of dangers to go back, much less take the risks necessary to go to Mars.


Ummmmmm...do you know anything about what happened to the Challenger? Anything at all? The danger was known, and some people chose to ignore. Nice way to treat your astronauts.

As for your comment about bravery, I don't think "brave" people are willing to be blown to pieces because some beaurocrats didn't want to wait for the weather to change. There's a line between bravery and stupidity.

I somehow doubt that today's public is making their choices about whether or not to support manned space travel based on how safe the ships are - today's public isn't going to be in the ships. I think they don't want to go back to the moon because they don't understand what the benefit is. And I think they aren't particularly interested in sending people to Mars for the same reason. We've been in space; it's not that exciting for people any more. It's especially not exciting when, for all they know, the shuttle's going to explode and not go into space at all. If scientists want people to care about a manned mission to Mars, scientists have to explain to people why they ought to care.

And I hate to go all "literary", but an accidental death is rarely a "tragedy".

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Re: Not an accident

Post by corymaylett » Mon Jan 30, 2006 6:31 pm

Andy68 wrote:Ummmmmm...do you know anything about what happened to the Challenger? Anything at all? The danger was known, and some people chose to ignore. Nice way to treat your astronauts.

Yup, do you? I was a reporter here in Utah at the time and covered the entire Challenger accident from the Thiokol angle. Without going into lots of details about O rings, cold-related elasticity and unheeded warnings, hindsight is a great way to identify things that could have been done differently.

Unfortunately, the realities of any accident don't provide those involved with the luxury of being able to identify and separate what will go wrong from what might go wrong. Like I said, considerable risks come with the nature of the beast, and the perception of the challenger accident being mainly the result of agency ineptness is a gross oversimplification of the problems that lead up to the explosion.

Andy68 wrote:As for your comment about bravery, I don't think "brave" people are willing to be blown to pieces because some beaurocrats didn't want to wait for the weather to change. There's a line between bravery and stupidity.

And as for your comment goes, you're putting words in my mouth. What I said was there are people willing to take considerable risks. Whether those risks come from mechanical failures, procedural inefficiencies, management problems or human error, those risks are an inherent part of a very large, complicated and dangerous cutting-edge system. I'm not saying that these risks ought to be overlooked, but they'll never go away either. And if we hold the space program hostage to these inherent risks, we might as well shut it down.

Andy68 wrote:I somehow doubt that today's public is making their choices about whether or not to support manned space travel based on how safe the ships are

Public and congressional pressure has pretty well grounded the entire space shuttle program because of overreactions to legitimate mechanical safety issues. These are absolutely important safety issues that should be addressed, but they don't warrant the extreme caution that is crippling NASA's manned space program. And yes, bugetary problems stemming from public apathy are a bigger factor in limiting space exploration, but that's a subject for another thread.

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Re: Not an accident

Post by Andy68 » Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:35 pm

Thylacine wrote:
Andy68 wrote:Ummmmmm...do you know anything about what happened to the Challenger? Anything at all? The danger was known, and some people chose to ignore. Nice way to treat your astronauts.

Yup, do you? I was a reporter here in Utah at the time and covered the entire Challenger accident from the Thiokol angle. Without going into lots of details about O rings, cold-related elasticity and unheeded warnings, hindsight is a great way to identify things that could have been done differently.

Not at all, I welcome you're going into lots of details about the above. Please do. You're saying that the problem was only clear in hindsight? That it wasn't laid out before people at NASA? That serious warnings weren't given and ignored? Please, go into all the detail you'd like.

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Post by corymaylett » Tue Jan 31, 2006 1:30 am

I'll let you read the commission's report yourself. The causes of the problems leading up to the disaster were complex, and so were the recommended changes to the shuttle program.

The Challenger accident was not a simple cut and dried case of bureaucratic bungling. Instead, it and the Columbia disintegration were accidents of the sort that, in my opinion, must be expected and accepted as an inevitable part of engaging in endeavors with large inherent risk.

The space shuttles are likely the most complicated machines ever built. The failure of any of the millions of interrelated parts and systems could cause a cascade of events that lead to catastrophic failure. Given the potential for disaster, I'm amazed that more accidents haven't occurred. This isn't to say that safety shouldn't be a prime consideration, but it has to be kept in perspective.

Just how safe does manned space flight have to be before it's safe enough? How much time, resources and energy should be spent on safety issues before those concerns and delays become counterproductive to the success of space exploration? Considering that we're perching people atop huge controlled explosions and blasting them into space in experimental vehicles, just how safe can it really be expected to be?

I'm not arguing that NASA should be excused for lapses in whatever they should have been doing but weren't. But I am saying that attributing manned space program accidents (Soviet/Russian included) primarily to bureaucratic ineptness that can be solved through ever-increasing levels of safety awareness is a gross oversimplification of the issues and an erroneous appraisal of the situation.

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Sorry

Post by Brevabloke » Tue Jan 31, 2006 8:53 am

Sorry guys definately did NOT want to start an argument about all that stuff. And despite my name, (Scott Carpenter!) I know a lot more about the soviet space program than I do about the US program.

And I do support manned space flight, and agree with Thylacine; it's an inherently dangerous thing to do.
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Re: Sorry

Post by corymaylett » Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:14 pm

Brevabloke wrote:Sorry guys definately did NOT want to start an argument about all that stuff.

No need to feel sorry; rocking the boat is a good thing.