Explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger

Challenger explosion, 1986 January 28

In 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on launch, killing several astronauts. It turned out that O-ring seals were not flexible enough when the rocket was launched at colder temperatures than they were tested for.

The “bolt it all together and pray” management ignored warnings from engineers about launching outside design temperatures. The O-rings were needed because the rocket was built in sections. The rocket was built in sections to give the manufacturing contracts to a land-bound state, because the rocket was too large to be transported in one piece except by sea. The contracts were awarded to a land-bound state as a politically influenced reward handed out to state governments and by them to their political contributors. It was not inevitable. It was not necessary. It was stupid.

Space Shuttle Challenger was replaced by Space Shuttle Columbia.

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