Talk:Space Shuttle Challenger disaster

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Former featured article Space Shuttle Challenger disaster is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on January 28, 2007.

Contents

The Commander[edit]

It is strange that this article does not even mention, explicitly, who was the commander (the astronaut in command) of the Challenger on the fateful day. One astronaut, Michael Smith, is mentioned as the "pilot", but in NASA jargon, that was really the assistant pilot of the Space Shuttle. The actual pilot in command was always the commander of the Space Shuttle. They were always one and the same person. Confusion needs to be removed from the "commander" and the "pilot" of the Columbia.

Also, this article makes no attempt to describe the assignments of the other astronauts on board the Challenger, such as payload specialist, scientist-astronaut, and so forth. 11:57, 2 November 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.81.9.49 (talk)

They are at the bottom in this template STS-51L. They have been there for a few years i looked back in the history. They do not state their job, except for the cmdr, but they have their own wiki that includes all of that. --Кwiztas (talk) 01:35, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

New video[edit]

Should the newly discovered video be mentioned? [1] - MK (t/c) 03:33, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Cockpit Voice Recorder?[edit]

Did the Challenger not have a cockpit voice recorder? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Godofredo29 (talkcontribs) 19:09, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

Yes. Although NASA later released a written transcript of the crew's final moments from it, The New York Times unsuccessfully challenged the agency several times in federal court for the release of the audio tape.[2][3] DrNegative (talk) 12:28, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

Recent edits[edit]

I've reverted a few recent edits.

I'm not sure we need to define "left" and "right" in the lead - if it's vague, it ought to be addressed later in the article - and the second section is pretty heavily weighted in terms of assuming malfesance on the part of NASA - "...is doubtful ... a dubious excuse at best ... indicative of an unacceptable level of negligence and apathy". It's cited to two sources, one for "rubber doesn't like being cold" and one an essay with nothing to indicate its reliability.

The second section seems to have been added as a caveat to an earlier sentence in the lead ("According to NASA leadership, however, the actual report submitted to them by Morton Thiokol was vague in its analysis and recommendations...") which was itself added quite recently; I've taken that out as well, as it doesn't really say anything critical and bogs down the lead.

As to the more general issue of the O-rings, etc, the originally featured version seems to have had a lot more material than this one, which has since been lost. I'll see what can be recovered. Shimgray | talk | 18:36, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

Removal of duplicate paragraph[edit]

The paragraph starting with "In the aftermath of the" is included in the article twice, once in the "Aftermath" section and once in "Investigation". I removed the one in "Aftermath", as I think it's more relevant as information about the investigation. As far as I could see, the only difference between the two was that the paragraph I removed used the word "disaster" where the other one used "accident". --Spug (talk) 22:55, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

PEAPs photo[edit]

I think having adding this photo was an improvement to the article.

I just added a photo to show what the Personal Egress Air Packs were, in the "Cause and time of death" section. I think a photo is needed, as the PEAPs are not explained - do they look like SCUBA tanks? Breathing masks? Something else? However, the photo I located is from the later STS-34 flight in 1989. I think it's an improvement to the article despite the differing crew. I wouldn't be offended if others disagree and want to remove the photo because of any confusion — I was specific in the caption that the photo is from a subsequent mission. Tempshill (talk) 21:23, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Jean Michel Jarre and Rendez-vous Houston[edit]

Is there any reason why the 1986 Rendez-vous Houston concert is not mentioned? I was reading the article and thought there should be something about this in the Aftermath/Tributes section. It was a major event dedicated to the memory of the astronauts. At the time it had over 1 million people in attendance. Jean Michel Jarre also released the album Rendez-Vous with music especially composed for the event. I respect this article for the information regarding the disaster, but I consider the concert somehow relevant among the many tributes to the astronauts.

I searched the History of the article and sometime in November 2007 a bit of information about this event was removed. If no one opposes or writes, I'll try writing something about it in the near future.

And btw, thanks to all wikipedians involved in this article. Such a fascinating but overwhelmingly bitter subjet.

John Denver and Flying For Me[edit]

While we're on the subject, at least as relevant is the song "Flying For Me" by John Denver, which is specifically written about the event in general and Christa McAuliffe in particular. Denver was one of the finalists for the Citizens In Space program that McAuliffe won.

As such it's very surprising to see no mention of it either here, or on her page... I've checked the history and it doesn't seem to be in there anywhere. Is there a reason, or just an omission, and what's the opinion on adding it? Zastrozzi (talk) 10:37, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

Allan McDonald?[edit]

Why is it that there is no mention of him and his work with the Rodger's Commission, seeing as he was the one who came forward with the information?

67.2.67.154 (talk) 18:20, 9 December 2010 (UTC) tarissky 11:19 MT 12-09-2010

Contradiction in article?[edit]

Twenty-five seconds after the breakup of the vehicle, which occurred at 48,000 feet (14.6 kilometres (9.1 mi)), the trajectory of the crew compartment peaked at a height of 65,000 feet (19.8 kilometres (12.3 mi)).[11]

[edit] Cause and time of death

The shuttle was designed to withstand a load factor of 3 (or 3 g), with another 1.5 g safety factor built in.[13] The crew cabin in particular is a very robust section of the shuttle because of its design and construction of reinforced aluminum.[13] During vehicle breakup, the crew cabin detached in one piece and slowly tumbled into a ballistic arc. NASA estimated the load factor at separation to be between 12 and 20 g; however, within two seconds it had already dropped to below 4 g and within ten seconds the cabin was in free fall. The forces involved at this stage were likely insufficient to cause major injury.

How could the cabin be at free fall 10 seconds after the malfunction if it peaked at 65000 ft. 25 seconds after the breakup? It cant simply be Gforces can it since 0g would occur at the peak which was supposedly 25 seconds afterwards not 10. 74.215.172.243 (talk) 06:26, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

If you throw a stone in the air, from the moment the stone leaves your hand it will be in free fall all the way up and then down (neglecting the friction of the air), since the only force acting on it is gravity. The stone itself will experience 0 g during this time. Parabolic flights produce 0 g during the climb as well as the descent.
--Giuliopp (talk) 10:40, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

STS missions[edit]

Just curious. If Challenger in 1986 was STS-51-L, how come a 1989 mission was STS-34? i thought there was some kind of typo in the caption. hbdragon88 (talk) 04:42, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

NASA has used three different numbering systems for shuttle missions. In the first system, which ended with STS-9, the missions were numbered based on which order they were launched. After STS-9, the system was changed due to NASA Administrator James S. Begg's triskaidekaphobia and his unwillingness to designate a mission as STS-13. In this second system, flights were designated based on the year they were authorized (in this case, the "5" indicating 1985), the launch site they were launched from ("1" indicating Kennedy Space Center, "2" would indicate Space Launch Complex 6 at Vandenburg Air Force Base, although Vandenburg was never used), and the letter indicating scheduling sequence. After STS-51-L, the third system was used. This third and current system is numbered sequentially based on when the launch is scheduled, rather than when it is actually launched, unlike the first numbering system. Under this system, missions have frequently launched out of sequential order; i.e. STS-107 launched after STS-113. There is also a fourth and so far unused numbering system that is used for contingency missions if a shuttle is disabled or damaged in orbit and unable to return to Earth. KerathFreeman (talk) 01:41, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

"Needs additional citations for verification"?[edit]

Just curious, why is Template:refimprove on this page if it's a featured article?? — Gabe 19 (talk contribs) 04:22, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

Featured articles degrade over time due to rising standards and unless editors keep a vigilant watch over edits, making sure that prose quality remains high and any dubious/unsourced/poorly sourced info remains out. So it should not be a surprise if someone feels that the current referencing could be better on an FA. hbdragon88 (talk) 03:05, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

FA?[edit]

Given the article's current condition, with a loose Legacy section (actually more like a Popular Culture section), poor prose ("The crew cabin in particular is a very robust section of the shuttle because of its design and construction of reinforced aluminum" as an example), and lots of uncited text, is this article really deserving of its FA status? I suggest not. Parrot of Doom 09:34, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

I just came here to question the exact same thing. It's really at WP:FAR stage, as far as I can tell. The paucity of references for this, a FA, is alarming. Seegoon (talk) 15:13, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
Yep agree this version was promoted long ago (November 26, 2006). We should have FA and GA articles automatically listed for review after 2 years at minimum. But that's another talk. Shall we go over this and see if WE can save this....or is it to far gone?Moxy (talk) 18:36, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
I have no access to any authoritative sources but I'm prepared to work on this, if others are, to solve its problems. If not, then I think it's WP:FAR for this. Parrot of Doom 18:07, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

Owl City - Meteor Shower[edit]

I'm not sure, but I don't believe the Owl City song is dedicated to the crew of Challenger. The song is not actually in reference to space flight at all. The other is, however. There could be a note somewhere from Owl City that I am not aware of, but it should be included in the article if there is. If no one objects, I'll remove the Meteor Shower reference.


Wreck it[edit]

I propose moving the page to Space Shuttle ''Challenger'' accident. Disaster is a much-overused word in popular media, and it vastly overstates the impact and casualties. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 23:11, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

I agree, assuming that you did not intend to include the apostrophes in the page title. I have filed a move request below. --GW 08:21, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm thinking the pagename will italicize the ship name. (The redlink won't accept that...) Thx for initiating the formal process. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 08:44, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

I agree that the use of the word "disaster" is a bunch of nonsense that was started by silly members of the news media. Here are examples of genuine disasters: the fire-bombings of Tokyo and Dresden during World War II; the earthquake that hit San Francisco in 1906; the earthquake that hit Tokyo in about 1927; the hurricane that hit southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi in 2005; the sacking of Rome by the Vandals during the fall of the Roman Empire; General Sherman's "March to the Sea" during the War Between the States (in Georgia in 1864); the invasion of Russia by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1812. 98.81.9.49 (talk) 12:08, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

In aerospace, a true disaster was the collision of two fully-loaded Boeing 747s at the airport of Tenerife in the Canary Islands back in the 1970s. Over 500 passengers and crewmen were killed in this DISASTER. 98.81.9.49 (talk) 12:12, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

No consensus to move. Vegaswikian (talk) 19:04, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

– The term "disaster" is emotive, and implies that a great number of lives have been lost. Whilst the loss of seven lives in each of these accidents was tragic, calling the incidents "disasters" implies higher casualties than actually occurred. -- GW 08:21, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

  • Agree That captures my feeling better than I did. :( :D TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 08:44, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Agree IIRC, Media of the day exclusively used "disaster" to refer to the incident, but now we've come to understand "disaster" as something affecting a large number of people. Many people were heartbroken, disappointed, shocked, and whatnot during the Challenger incident, but I'd now call it an "accident" owing to the small (relative to, for example, Hurricane Katrina) number of lives lost and a more precise understanding of the term "disaster." -- ke4roh (talk) 10:02, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose - OED definition of disaster - " Anything that befalls of ruinous or distressing nature; a sudden or great misfortune, mishap, or misadventure; a calamity. Usually with a and pl., but also without a, as ‘a record of disaster’." While not disastrous in terms of loss of life, the two incidents were almost certainly disastrous for the Space Shuttle programme, which was stalled for years. This is one of those occasions where the use of "disaster" is entirely appropriate. I might also add using "accident" to describe these incidents might be playing down the almost criminal levels of negligence seen in the Challenger incident. Parrot of Doom 10:51, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
NASA was criminally negligent IMO. Not the issue. Aviation treats "accident" as "disaster" as a standard: a 747 wreck is an "accident" when 500 people die. Given the small numbers, "incident" would be closer to the usual aviation usage. Using "disaster" because NASA fucked up is POV IMO. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 12:08, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
Spaceflight is not in the same category as aviation. It's not merely loss of life that makes these incidents disasters, but the wound they inflicted on the national psyche. Regardless, however, we should follow the sources, rather than trying to draw the line between "accident" and "disaster" ourselves. Powers T 17:40, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose. After a brief review of the sources in Google Books and the references used in this article, usage seems split, with a slight bias toward "disaster" for Challenger and "accident" for Columbia (the latter mainly due to the official "Columbia Accident Investigation Board"). As such, I see no compelling reason to change the Challenger article, though I'd probably be Neutral on the Columbia article. Powers T 17:40, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose: this term is largely universal, it's not our prerogative to tell the rest of the world what to call this. Maury Markowitz (talk) 20:36, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
The rest of the world does not universally call it a disaster. If you ignore wikipedia and derived sites, usage is evenly split, which to me means that the official use of "accident" should be preferred. Roothog (talk) 16:51, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:POVTITLE. The Boston Massacre may not have really been a massacre, but that's what everybody calls it—same deal here. –CWenger (^@) 18:50, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
You're not making a factually correct argument. It's not what everybody calls it. If you google the two phrases in quotes with "-wikipedia", you see an even split. Roothog (talk) 16:51, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Agree "Disaster" sounds like hyperbole. The official Rogers Commission report calls it an accident. If you googlefight the phrases "space shuttle challenger disaster" versus "space shuttle challenger accident", you see a 2-to-1 favor for disaster. However, if you add "-wikipedia" into the searches, it's nearly perfectly split, which suggests that wikipedia itself is creating the bias in favor of disaster. Roothog (talk) 16:46, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose Ever heard someone say "that party was a total disaster"? Dictionaries give one meaning as "a total failure". (The original meaning, now obsolete, was "a calamity blamed on an unfavorable position of a planet".) As for scope, the loss of the shuttle itself was a billion dollars or so, and the entire cost including delays was probably several times that. That's considerably more than a three-car pileup. Finally, I note another discussion here made the same proposal four years ago and it went nowhere. Time to put it to rest.Paleolith (talk) 02:36, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose I don't think accident captures the scale or impact of this event. Sven Manguard Wha? 03:04, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose If the loss of seven lives and hundreds of millions of dollars of hardware in one horrific instant is not a disaster than nothing is! Barts1a | Talk to me | Yell at me 07:56, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Barts1a on the one hand, and on the other because it would be tantamount to calling 9/11 an "accident"! --Whoop whoop pull up Bitching Betty | Averted crashes 23:02, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
"tantamount to calling 9/11 an 'accident'" That has to be the most absurd argument against I've seen so far. 3000 dead against 7? Deliberate act by foreign actors, against indifference & incompetence? Are you serious? TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 00:44, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Owl City[edit]

Where would it be appropriate to include the song 'January 28, 1986', by Owl City, which is a tribute to this event? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Irandill (talkcontribs) 21:51, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

As a rule, we don't tend to put pop culture stuff in space-related articles. Colds7ream (talk) 11:58, 13 July 2011 (UTC)


There is a song by Owl City on the album All Things Bright and Beautiful titled January 28, 1986. It says, "Ladies and Gentlemen, today is a day for mourning and remembering. They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths, And they had that special grace, that special spirit that says: 'Give me a challenge, and I'll meet it with joy.' The crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God."

These are Snippets from Ronald Reagan's Space Shuttle "Challenger" Tragedy Address. This could be included in the Legacy area.24.10.56.224 (talk) 15:26, 9 August 2011 (UTC)Anonymous 8/09/11

It is improper to conclude that the primary cause was O-rings[edit]

I've been voicing protest for years that it is ridiculous to hold that the primary cause of this mishap was a "failure of the SRB O-rings". If you try to operate a vehicle outside of its tested limits and it fails, there should be no surprise in that. You were asking it to do something it was never certified to do. Take your car's engine, for instance. The tachometer is clearly labeled with a white section and a red section. It's been tested for safe operation within that white section. Now say a driver hops in and decides to blow past that limit and revs the engine well into the red zone. BANG! The engine gets totally destroyed. Are you surprised? Is it proper to analyze the fault as being a failure of the "o-rings" on the pistons as having "failed"? Not at all. The cause of the destruction is operator error.

Here is a USENET post from that cold day of January 28, 1986, posted within hours of the mishap: http://groups.google.com/group/net.space/msg/098fec77028fe88e?hl=en

Excerpt: "The early reports have it that one of the SRB's may have exploded. The weather reports had been of very cold weather. What are the temperature cycling limits on the SRB's?"

Ironically, that post was made by a person named Michael Smith. The Challenger PLT Michael Smith has been quoted as having stated to his family that there was no way NASA would launch that morning, with it being so cold. But they did. And no one in NASA's Shuttle Launch Control or Mission Control, let alone astronauts who chose to get onboard that orbiter, had any basis for an expectation of success because those SRBs had not been tested down to those temperatures. It is a total diversion to lay sole blame on NASA management, Thiokol engineers, the SRBs or the O-rings themselves. Every single component of the Space Shuttle System - including the orbiter and ET - would need to be tested down to those cold ambient temperatures before you can properly expect such a launch to succeed. Otherwise you're just winging it. And that's what NASA did that morning. They rolled the dice and they lost.

This is what is known as an "envelope expansion test". They took a deep bite into a region that had never been explored before, lacking thermal certification data that would give confidence that it might succeed. Another major unknown that morning was the huge chunks of ice all over the pad. For all we know, Challenger's SSMEs may have been punctured worse than STS-93 experienced, and THAT failure was in a race with the SRB o-rings to see which would be first to destroy Challenger. It could have been any of hundreds of different failure modes that took out 51-L with various combinations of ice debris and cold-soaked temperatures. But no. The official blame has fallen on O-rings and SRB managers. We wouldn't want to blemish the Gene Kranz & Co Mission Operations' "Failure Is Not An Option" reputation by citing the primary cause of this incident as being their ridiculously cavalier attitude in deciding to launch that very cold, icy morning. And with the Rogers Commission neatly sweeping that under the rug, they set the stage for Mission Operations' arrogant launch decision in 2003, two missions after a huge foam strike that dented STS-112's SRB skirt.

The current debate above is terminology in the article's title. It's clear to me that none of these events are "accidents". This isn't spontaneous human combustion. These were foreseeable incidents where the warning signs were deliberately ignored. The US military has long ago adopted the mindset that all aviation crashes have specific causes that can be mitigated by being smart. They do not call their multi-million dollar fatalities "accidents". They call them "mishaps".--Tdadamemd (talk) 17:52, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

I found this 2007 article that confirms the above position that the cause was operational hubris:
"we’re only qualified to 40 degrees ...‘what business does anyone even have thinking about 18 degrees, we’re in no man’s land’".[1]
With that reference, I made these changes to the article.--Tdadamemd (talk) 01:23, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks to Trekphiler for an excellent cleanup to my edit. Back to the topic of the best title for this article, above I am advocating Space Shuttle Challenger mishap. Here's a reference that includes a NASA HQ ppt slideshow making it clear that NASA has fully adopted the US military attitude that air crashes are mishaps, not unavoidable "accidents":
NASA Mishap Investigation Process (pdf pg19of193)
It also has excellent info showing how many CAIB members came from the standing Interagency Mishap Investigation Board.--Tdadamemd (talk) 22:13, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
TYVM. In case it wasn't clear, I agree, it was a monumentally stupid call. I just think the people involved can say it, & we can leave the reader to see it for themselves. Yeah, I wanted to call the NASA admin staff morons, too... :( They wait til people get killed to fix it... First the 204 pad fire, then this, then Columbia. Which nitwit approved an SRB with that O-ring to begin with? You might as well have stuck det cord on the tank & lit it before the flight if you rolled a six, 'cause you were gonna get a bang eventually. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 01:36, 7 August 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, it's easy to get wound up emotionally when one ponders the monumental stupidity behind catastrophic mistakes like these. It is said that hindsight is 20/20, but here is one case where foresight was traded for blindfolds. Imagine walking by all those icicles on the pad that morning thinking, "yup, good to go!" At least 6 of the 7 crew had enough training to know that they were taking a HUGE risk.
If anyone has a right to be arrogant, I'll be the first to admit that it would be NASA. But when that arrogance has bit you time and again, you'd think they'd give it a pause. But no, two flights prior to STS-107 a chunk of foam broke off the tank and dented the SRB. NASA looks at that and says, "yup, good to go!"
...so what's the story that the public latches onto? "The foam did it." How much accountability for the stupidity behind the decision to continue launching missions, without so simple a solution as keeping a rescue mission on call? One person got fired, and one other got sent out of state on assignment for a couple of years. Top officials who supported that horribly faulty decision actually got promoted. There's an entire Safety Empire that was established as a check against management, operations and engineering making atrociously faulty decisions. Did a single Safety person get so much as a letter on file in their records? I'm not aware of a single way that Safety was held accountable.
This was a very sad repeat of the story from Challenger. Blame is diverted to the inanimate (O-rings/foam). Some of the people most responsible actually get promoted (Bob Sieck/Wayne Hale, as just two examples).
Had the lessons from 204 been learned thoroughly, there would have been no Challenger and no Columbia. And it isn't turnover of personnel that caused the corporate amnesia. Look at the MCC photos from Challenger and you'll see Gene Kranz sitting in there. The entire room was thoroughly complicit. Gene Kranz learned he could get away with atrociously bad decisions after he decided to send Apollo 13 all the way around the Moon, instead of turning them around to come home as quick as possible. That decision nearly killed three more astronauts. But he got away with it, and the Investigation Board (internal, not independent) swept Kranz's near-fatal* mistake under the rug. [* - fixed in followup edit]
Cortright's failure to hold Mission Control accountable after A13 fed the establishment's arrogance. And that produced a NASA that 16 years later thought they could get away with flinging the ice-laden 51L crew into the sky.
Over on the Apollo 13 article, I've repeatedly added hard facts that come straight from the official reports, yet those edits get continually reverted. Anyone who holds that A13 had an explosion did not read what the reports said. The investigation was very thorough in analyzing the mechanisms of the tank rupture. Yet today, that article persists in having a section titled "explosion". The words exploded/explosion appear in that article at least seven times. It does not appear a single time in the extensive after action report, the 1970 official NASA document.
Distortions take root and people eventually accept them as unquestioned fact.
This Challenger article does much better on that particular topic in explaining how Challenger did not explode. Yet for some strange reason there is still the subsection title "explosion". I am going to edit that right now. I hope the factual version of this story will persist over the myth.--Tdadamemd (talk) 04:08, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't fully understand your objection here; people knew it as an "explosion", so I think that's an appropriate name for the section heading. The text explains that it maybe wasn't an "explosion" in the conventional sense of the word. Mlm42 (talk) 00:43, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

References

  1. ^ Chris Bergin (January 28th, 2007). "Remembering the mistakes of Challenger". nasaspaceflight.com. Retrieved August 5, 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

Under the Legacy section[edit]

Please also include that in Decatur, AL, a smaller town outside of Huntsville AL, an elementary school opened named Julian Harris Elementary School in 1986. The school chose the mascot "Challengers" and all of the streets surrounding the school were named in honor of those astronauts and one very special teacher who lost their lives. The school address is 1922 McAuliffe Drive. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 108.195.164.179 (talk) 23:11, 1 August 2011 (UTC)

Accountability for the crew not being given an ejection/escape option[edit]

While the article does have a section on crew escape, a huge part of the 51L story that is still missing (that would later apply to STS-107 as well) is the decision going back to the 1970s to not give the crew any emergency egress option. Since they survived the initial break-up, and Joe Kerwin in the official report does not rule out the possibility that some survived until ocean impact, we are faced with the disturbing awareness that giving the crew something as simple as a parachute could have made the difference between life and death. At the very least, a hope for survival. An excellent addition to this article would be identifying key decision points that date back to the early 1970s where it was decided that the crew would not be given an escape module that would take advantage of the already designed crew cabin pressure vessel - the vital element that survived the initial breakup of both Challenger as well as Columbia. This could have been designed with a minimum weight drogue chute for stabilization for eventual crew egress. It is understandable that the comprehensive escape module with rocket separation motors, full parachutes and impact attenuation bags was deemed to be weight (/cost) prohibitive. Instead a very practical lightweight system could have been implemented but wasn't. This would consist of a stabilization drogue chute for the crew cabin, minimal thermal protection such as a spray-on ablative coating on the front side. This would get the crew decelerated into parameters where it would be possible to pop the hatch and parachute to safety. Such a lightweight, minimal cost design would obviously not give the highest probability of surviving a loss-of-vehicle, but it would have given them a fighting chance. Even post-Challenger, such a mod might have preserved lives on Columbia.

The facts are out there. I didn't see much in Rogers' report on holding the people responsible for these decisions accountable, but there has to be information on who made those decisions and why. I expect the majority of those officials are still alive today. I never saw Rogers call them to testify. I never saw Gehman, post-Challenger, call for testimony on that either. I'm sure that both boards looked thoroughly into the matter. It's just their reporting that seems to fall short. There must be resources available to Wikipedians that can fill in this blank.

Perhaps the very people involved in making those decisions would like to edit in the facts as to why they did what they did.--Tdadamemd (talk) 05:20, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

Your comment appears to be asking for when they made the decision to not have an emergency escape option. I suspect it wasn't a single decision made by a single person, but rather several decisions made be several people, possibly made over several years.. so I think it would be difficult to pin-point. And in the extremely unlikely event that somebody with inside knowledge stumbles across this talk page, it would be inappropriate for them to add information to the article, because that would count as original research. Mlm42 (talk) 00:37, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I thoroughly expect that the decision involved dozens of people through a lengthy timeframe. There is, however, one "pin-point" that is most significant to identify: that is the person who had been authorized to make the final decision on the matter. If I were to take a guess, I'd say this happened around 1973 or so. We can expect that every astronaut helping to develop shuttle during those early years consented to the decision that the engineers and management had made. With all the people involved, I don't think it is unreasonable that at least one of them would want the world to know the accurate story as to why they did what they did, and how they view their decision with the hindsight of 14 dead astronauts. There are many new space vehicles being designed today that could benefit from these lessons learned. Wikipedia can serve as an excellent record of those facts. Not just in the initial design of shuttle, but also after 1986 when NASA was forced to re-examine the problem. That group of people obviously did not provide an adequate solution for the situation that struck again in 2003.--Tdadamemd (talk) 19:03, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Why "Explosion"?[edit]

The article has a section that thoroughly explains how the destruction of the vehicle was not an explosion. I had edited the section title to "Vehicle disintegration was not an explosion", but that quickly got reverted back to "Explosion". The section already communicates a more comprehensive understanding (that extreme air loads can tear up a vehicle so that it looks like it exploded, when in fact it did not). I see no way for "Explosion" to be upheld as an accurate and appropriate title for the section. Perhaps those involved in naming that title are not bothering to read the section. Or if the problem is that what that section is saying is not being understood, then this Talk section here can be used to provide a more thorough explanation. Or this section can be used for debate, if anyone really believes that the vehicle did explode. The starting point in that case would be to provide any solid evidence. Quoting a reference written by the many people who do not care to understand the difference between what an explosion is and what an explosion is not would not count as solid evidence.

The beauty of Wikipedia is that it helps to educate us where we can advance from our individual states of ignorance.--Tdadamemd (talk) 19:03, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

The vast majority of sources report the incident as an explosion and in the everyday sense of the word that is what happened. Technically the shuttle didn't explode, but the liquid propellants did, after the collapse of the fuel tanks. I don't support a change to "No explosion". We're not myth busters. However, I would support a change to "shuttle break up" or "shuttle disintegration" or something similar. Polyamorph (talk) 07:18, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
I have removed the section entirely. We already have a perfectly good section describing the "Vehicle breakup" and no where does it state that the shuttle exploded so there is no misconception to clarify, we present the facts as they happened. I merged the useful information from the "Explosion" section into this pre-existing "Vehicle breakup" section. Polyamorph (talk) 07:30, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
The only part that might require clarification is in the flight controller dialogue "We have a report from the Flight Dynamics Officer that the vehicle has exploded." Perhaps a sentence stating how technically this was not correct would be fine but it doesn't warrant its own section.Polyamorph (talk) 07:33, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

Recent edits, neutrality[edit]

I've reverted a recent edit, and notice more by the same user which seem to veer off neutrality, into synthesis of sources and a personal interpretation, and appear to promote a particular expert, in a fashion that reads like some COI might be involved. 76.248.149.98 (talk) 03:01, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

Much of it appears to be copyright violation, and I'm wondering if the rest isn't aimed at promoting the views of one expert. Comment here would be welcome, though I may ask for more eyes at a noticeboard. 76.248.149.98 (talk) 03:16, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for your attention to encyclopedic content. Which direction is this copying going? The web site in question seems to be from 2010. We've had this article up with much of its content since well before that. Let's be sure the site author didn't grab content here for his page. -- ke4roh (talk) 03:39, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
A Google search indicates that the recent additions-those since November 15-- were copied from text added to the 'o-ring' website on November 9 [4]. But if you look at the content I've reverted, it does appear to be a sort of advocacy, perhaps lifted from a website whose reliability as a source has not been established; Fred Policelli may be an expert, but that needs to be established by other sources, not by his website. The tone raises some questions, and the possibility of copyright infringement raises more. 76.248.149.98 (talk) 03:45, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
I think the discussion engaged here is helpful: [5]. 76.248.149.98 (talk) 03:59, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

Engineering Ethics: Balancing Cost, Schedule, and Risk[edit]

Under the Further Reading header in the article page, I have posted a book by Rosa Lynn Pinkus called Engineering Ethics: Balancing Cost, Schedule, and Risk. The book goes far into detail about the O-ring malfunction. It explains where engineers went wrong with the construction on the booster rockets, and supplies solutions to their mistakes. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pjwinder93 (talkcontribs) 19:55, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

New Video[edit]

Here is a "new" video of the explosion from an amateur camera: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/challenger-video-film-space-shuttle-explosion_n_1333794.html KyuuA4 (Talk:キュウ) 23:27, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

"Robustly" designed Crew Cabin[edit]

The article refers to the crew cabin as robustly designed. If it was made so strong, why wasn't it supplemented with some sort of ejection-seat design? Or maybe the astronauts should have been wearing parachute packs. The article does not discuss another point: Did the Astronauts expire from the impact at the ocean surface? Or did the combination of fumes and irregular G-Forces during the breakup cause expiration of the Astronauts before the cabine plummeted?206.192.35.125 (talk) 12:54, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

Short answer: They were not expecting the thing to go "ka-friggin'-BOOM!"
Long answer: They had to build the crew cabin so robustly in order to survive the conditions of space without exploding and allowing the lethal vacuum of space into the craft. The first two missions were flown with ejector seats but they were only practical for a VERY NARROW part of the shuttle's flight path and were too heavy and bulky to be carried on further missions. It was kind of stupid to fly a spacecraft with no practical method of crew escape and recovery but due to the design of the shuttle a Launch Escape System like what had been used before was (and still is) impossibly impractical. In the wake of the other shuttle disaster they designed a system to allow the crew to bail-out of the craft... only when it was in stable gliding flight! Because of this growing safety concern and rising costs they eventually retired the shuttles. Who knows what they'll send people up on next? Barts1a / Talk to me / Help me improve 13:01, 13 March 2012 (UTC)


Who would I contact about debris of challenger and how? My father was in St. Augustine the next day and pulled a disk from ocean and I still haave the peice. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 65.199.25.94 (talk) 14:36, 10 April 2012 (UTC)

Please ask your question at Wikipedia:Reference desk/Science. Polyamorph (talk) 17:49, 10 April 2012 (UTC)

"Use as case study" addition[edit]

I recently came across a paper co-authored by Roger Boisjoly, Representation and Misrepresentation: Tufte and the Morton Thiokol Engineers on the Challenger.

http://www.onlineethics.org/CMS/profpractice/exempindex/RB-intro/RepMisrep.aspx

It strongly refutes Tufte's claims against the Morton Thiokol engineers. As such, I believe its addition to the "case study" section provides a more balanced view of the sub-topic. I'm not an experienced editor, so I didn't add the citation to the footnotes and muck them up. Thanks to the user that cleans up my mess.

 Done Thanks for the addition! -- ke4roh (talk) 01:49, 16 July 2012 (UTC)

Proposed name change[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Propose that the article be changed to "Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion".

Disaster is a value judgement. Also some enemies of America might say it was a good event and celebrate it. If so, it is not a disaster to them. Use of the word "disaster" would be appropriate for the name of a TV episode but not an encyclopedia article.

Auchansa (talk) 04:55, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

Are you trolling, or just stupid? AndyTheGrump (talk) 05:03, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose - for so many reasons, the most important, to Wikipedia at least, is that this article is about the disaster as a whole, not just its cause.--RadioFan (talk) 15:56, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose - per RadioFan, plus the stack didn't explode, it disintegrated under aerodynamic pressures. SalopianJames (talk) 16:48, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose and snow close. Polyamorph (talk) 16:56, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

New proposal. New title: Space Shuttle Challenger destruction.

Or why does this have to be a separate article? Why not merge it with the mission article, STS...?

My concern is that the word "disaster" is a value judgement. Auchansa (talk) 04:17, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

According to our Disaster article, "A disaster is a natural or man-made (or technological) hazard resulting in an event of substantial extent causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life, or drastic change to the environment." There is neither consensus nor need for a page move. Polyamorph (talk) 10:16, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
That's a good point that you raised. I wonder if there is consistency in Wikipedia about other disasters? Without looking, I can think of several disasters. One was in Japan in the nuclear power plants after the tsunami. Another one was Chernobyl. September 11th was one, too, though the word "terrorist attacks" might be another term used. When two 747's slammed into each other, that was a disaster, too. Auchansa (talk) 06:26, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
Yes we have Chernobyl disaster and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. See also Lists of disasters where you'll see many other examples. It's a consistent term used throughout wikipedia. Polyamorph (talk) 14:19, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

Kaboom or no kaboom?[edit]

So... did it break, or did it actualy explode? seriously, I need that info. — Preceding unsigned comment added by SmartyPantsKid (talkcontribs) 15:06, 22 January 2013 (UTC)

Did it go boom?[edit]

Was it an explosion or structural failure? I need to know.--SmartyPantsKid, Signing off. 15:08, 22 January 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by SmartyPantsKid (talkcontribs)

I suggest reading through the sources to see how the event is described in reliable sources. -- Trevj (talk) 10:51, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Challenge to reference 63 - unintentionally misleading[edit]

In the article citation 63 says, in part, "It is part of the required readings for engineers seeking a professional license in Canada".

There is no such thing as "a professional license in Canada" for engineers. The federal government in Canada has empowered the provinces to regulate professions and the provinces allow professional bodies to self-organize as, how and where they deem it appropriate.

The body that licenses engineers is different from province-to-province. While engineers and other professional groups have national consultative bodies that cooperate on educational standards and the like this reference is, I believe, unintentionally misleading.

Without exhaustively checking the required reading of each licensing body in Canada there is no way to determine if this assertion is true.

It may be that the author was thinking of the accreditation of engineering educational programs that is organized nationally. Gaining accreditation for a program will require a school to adhere to national standards as laid down by the consortia of all of the provinical bodies.

These standards for education may require the readings in question but this is only indirectly related to gaining professional standing.

In any case there is no such thing as a "professional license in Canada". The phrase is nonsensical and should be substantially changed or removed. Thank you. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.64.104.159 (talk) 04:33, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

How many joints?[edit]

There is some confusion as to the number of segment joints on the solid boosters. The article says:

Each of the two Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) that comprised part of the Space Transportation System was constructed of six sections joined in three factory joints and three "field joints".(Cite NASA Solid Rocket Motor Joint Reliability)

The problem is: there can only be five joints between six items, not six; one joint would have to be at the end! The NASA source says there are three field (O-ring) joints, but does not specify the number of factory joints. The extra field joint would have to go at one end (nozzle or nose cone), but why would an O-ring be necessary there? (I would assume the topmost segment contained an end-cap, since the nose cone contained parachutes.) We need another source, with an illustration which clearly shows the booster segment configuration. JustinTime55 (talk) 16:33, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

I think I cleared up the mystery. From reading Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster and a thread from its talk page, there are actually seven segments, not six. Six of the seven are paired at the factory (three factory joints), leaving four segments (an ambiguous definition of segment) assembled at KSC (three field joints.) JustinTime55 (talk) 17:22, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

Would have been over 3,000 mph at Earth's surface[edit]

If the descent started at 98 seconds after launch and ended at 238 seconds after launch (for descent time of 140 seconds) and acceleration at Earth's surface is 9.8 m/s^2, the velocity after 140 seconds would have been 1372 m/s (3,060 miles per hour), which is about 15 times faster than the 200 miles per hour quoted. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Idster (talkcontribs) 18:49, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

If the Earth didn't have an atmosphere, that would be correct. --Deeday-UK (talk) 19:32, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
See page on "Terminal Velocity" for detailed explanation of why your calculation is inaccurate. Nerch (talk) 05:40, 31 August 2015 (UTC)

Recovery[edit]

"...which covered an area of 480 nautical miles (890 km),..." Is this supposed to be square nautical miles and square km?

Yes. I corrected the mistake and added a proper source. There was no source for the number, which in fact was slightly incorrect (the search area was 486 square nautical miles).Renerpho (talk) 03:56, 21 May 2017 (UTC)

Dunning-Kruger effect[edit]

This uncited text constitutes original research:

"Feynman's famous demonstration is arguably an example of the Dunning–Kruger effect.[citation needed] (People with limited knowledge tend to overestimate their knowledge, those with high levels of knowledge tend to underestimate it.) Although highly qualified and highly regarded as a theoretical physicist, Feynman had no qualification or experience in aerospace engineering. As physicist, Feynman had a basic understanding of the effect of temperature on materials so his demonstration mistakenly concentrated on the properties of the O-rings and missed weaknesses in the engineering design. Had O-ring material been the cause of the accident, the original O-ring configuration could have been retained and the failure rectified by replacing the O-ring material with one that remained pliable at low temperatures.[citation needed] However, the Rogers Commission Report found that the accident was caused by a fundamental design flaw in the O-ring arrangement which made it sensitive to the effects of temperature. In response to the Rogers Commission Report, the O-ring arrangement was redesigned for future flights."

We can't put uncited opinion in the Wikipedia, no matter how logical they may seem to be. I think the word "arguably" is a warning sign of this, even though it doesn't appear in our WP:Words to watch. We can only include this if some published source has made the argument. JustinTime55 (talk) 16:05, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

30th anniversary[edit]

We're about a month and half away from the 30th anniversary of the disaster, and it would be nice to bring the article back to featured status so that it could be that day's featured article. I don't know what improvements are needed, though. Hellbus (talk) 17:35, 11 December 2015 (UTC)

It's crazy how I saw this on the front of Facebook but not the front of Wikipedia. It's a shame it's not even a WP:GA on it's 30th anniversary. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 150.156.86.50 (talk) 18:37, 28 January 2016 (UTC)

We should cover why the SRB's were built with joints, rather than in one piece.[edit]

This is a matter I have heard very little about, in the last 30 years. Decades ago, I heard a long comment that said that the SRB's were built in pieces for what amounted to political reasons: Morton Thiokol's plant was in Utah, and it would have been prohibitively difficult to transfer a single-piece SRB from Utah to Florida, or to any coast. (Roads have overpasses, railroads have tunnels, etc.) The reason the contract went to Morton Thiokol was political. One alternative would have been to build a factory on the Gulf Coast, and then barge the SRB's to Florida. Had that been done, they would have had no joints to fail, and so the event would not have occurred. Once the contract went to MT, they had to include the joints. Lurie2 (talk) 23:40, 28 January 2016 (UTC)

The proper place for that information, if properly sourced, would be in Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster. -- GB fan 23:52, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
You said, "The proper place..." as if you are implying, "The ONLY proper place..." If you meant the latter, why didn't you say the latter? Because you might have to prove it? Lurie2 (talk) 04:30, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
I am not implying anything. I am saying IMO the proper place for the information, if properly sourced, is in the article about the boosters. I don't have to prove anything. If you feel the information belongs here, you will need to convince other editors it belongs here. Before that happens though you will need to find reliable sources that says the reason the contract went to MT was political. You will also need to find reliable sources that say there was an option to build single piece SRBs not just that you heard that. -- GB fan 22:01, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
You repeat the stilted claim that "THE proper place...". You are not addressing why it would also not be proper to include it here, even if it also is included at the other location. After all, the actual cause of the incident was merely the end of a long chain of events leading from the choice to build the SRB's in pieces. Further, while I referred to the contract as "political", that doesn't mean that I expected that allegation to be part of the article. (That's why I'm writing on this Talk page.) BTW, are you challenging the idea that there was NOT "an option to build single-piece SRBs". That's called "engineering". And while you harp about "reliable sources", nothing I have said implies that I didn't expect to obtain them! So you are objecting to a future edit based solely on your assumption that reliable sources will not be obtained. That would be like me telling you 'Don't use swear words in edits!!!' when you haven't yet done so! Lurie2 (talk) 21:20, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
If you think any of it belongs here, it is your responsibility to show why it belongs here. I have told you where in my opinion (IMO) the information belongs. I am not challenging anything, just explaining what we need to have the information in any article. -- GB fan 23:01, 13 February 2016 (UTC)

Units[edit]

I think if I am reading WP:UNITS correctly that as a scientific article, this article should display metric first. Any thoughts? --John (talk) 12:22, 14 February 2016 (UTC)

I've adjusted the units. The guideline seems clear and sensible and there is no good reason to diverge from it. --John (talk) 18:33, 15 February 2016 (UTC)
@John:, I missed this section previously when I was trying to find discussion on the use between Celsius and Fahrenheit. Because of that, I created my own section regarding what units should be used. This does not seem to be a scientific article since it is an article on a disaster, even though it has some scientific information in it. The overall article is on a disaster, with some science used within to show the causes of that disaster. Because of that, I believe, per WP:UNITS, the units should be US customary. In fact, the Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster also uses US customary units. I'd love to hear your (or others) thoughts on this. --Bassmadrigal (talk) 17:19, 17 May 2016 (UTC)

Quote: "...the shuttle was just not designed to fly under those conditions." [edit]

This edit had added what is perhaps the most succinct quote that identifies the fundamental reason why this tragedy happened. It was promptly removed by John, with a suggestion that this issue be discussed here in the Talk section and a consensus built first if we are to include it. The full quote is this, from Robert Veilleux, a Teacher in Space candidate:

"The day they finally flew the shuttle Challenger, I never thought they would because it was in fact a very cold morning and the shuttle was just not designed to fly under those conditions." [1][2](emphasis added)

The lede, for a very long time, had a stable form that included a succinct quote by Bob Ebeling from Thiokol:

"[W]e're only qualified to 40 degrees ...'what business does anyone even have thinking about 18 degrees, we're in no man's land.'"[3]

That was removed from the lede on Feb 10 with this edit. That edit also removed from the lede this succinct quote by Ken Iliff:

"Violating a couple of mission rules was the primary cause of the Challenger accident."[4]

These are three quotes that speak very clearly as to the reason why this tragedy happened. I can understand the view that we do not want to clutter up the lede with too much detail, so I gave my best effort by paring this down to just the quote shown in the title of this section. I am actually of the opinion that all three quotes can be written into the lede in a way that is not cumbersome.

(If we want to minimize clutter in the lede, I will suggest removing the paragraph that speculates on the exact moment of death.)--Tdadamemd sioz (talk) 21:13, 18 February 2016 (UTC)

We do not normally carry detail in the lead that is not in the main body. I could accept a modified version of this in the body, with a one-sentence summary in the lead. --John (talk) 21:22, 19 February 2016 (UTC)
John said in his edit summaries that his main objection was non-NPOV, rather than clutter, and I basically agree. Tdadamemd, you've made clear in the past how upset you are with NASA over this incident, but we're not here to crusade against NASA stupidity. We've really got to tone it down a bit in the article intros, which should not be hyped with details of inflammatory quotes. I agree with John: single-sentence summary, but the Veilleux quote should go in the body rather than the intro. JustinTime55 (talk) 21:48, 19 February 2016 (UTC)


I strongly agree that does not belong in the introduction of the article. It's fine to include objections/criticisms about the decision to fly in the body of the article, though I'm not sure that a fellow teaching colleague of McAuliffe's is the best candidate. OhNoitsJamie Talk 22:12, 19 February 2016 (UTC)
I would agree that there are many many others who have more technical knowledge than Veilleux.
But sometimes people need distance in order to feel the liberty to speak totally candidly. I will suggest to you that Veilleux is at an optimum distance.
Others who are close run the risk of making themselves appear stupid for their role in the launch decision. I will go so far as to tell you that they are at risk of exposing themselves to criminal culpability. (Thought bubble... "My negligence/incompetence killed those seven people. It might have been stupid for me to consent to that launch, but it would be even stupider for me to out myself.") Ok, that's a LOAD of speculation, so I'll stop here.--Tdadamemd sioz (talk) 00:47, 20 February 2016 (UTC)

I see our job as editors here requiring us to leave our emotions out of our article edits. I fail to see how the highlighted quotes above are seen to be inflammatory. These are not angry words. They are factual words. (If you listen to Veilleux speaking, you can hear that for yourself.)

Thought bubble...

Consider a scenario where you go to start up your car, then rev the engine well past the redline ...and hold it there.  Your engine blows.  Your car is destroyed.
An investigation takes place and finds that the seals on the pistons failed, and because of that your engine blew.  Is it proper to summarize the cause of this destruction as a failure of those piston o-rings?  To do so muddies the waters and will cause confusion for the average reader who is trying to learn why this happened.

The reason it happened is because you as the operator failed to observe the design limits.

And THIS is why the Challenger tragedy happened. The lede and the body had been focusing on o-rings, engineers and managers, when all of the responsible operators (Mission Control, Launch Control) knew very well that they were exceeding the design limits. If you read the official report, you will see how, on the fly, they wrote temp waivers. And then when it got colder than the new waiver limit, they wrote a waiver to the waiver. (And those were not waivers to the SRB o-rings. *Any* component that was not tested and certified to fly at those cold temperatures could have failed.)

THIS is the kind of hubris that Ken Iliff is speaking about. This is the direct information that is missing from the article. You can bury that info if you want, and you'll be in good company. Because that's exactly what NASA did.--Tdadamemd sioz (talk) 23:39, 19 February 2016 (UTC)

  • As something of an aficionado of this disaster, and an occasional editor of this page, I do sympathise with what you are trying to do here, Tdadamemd sioz. As an encyclopedist, I remind you again that we are not here to tell our readers "And THIS is why the Challenger tragedy happened." (your emphasis) but to describe the event dispassionately and fairly. One good tip in pursuing WP:NPOV is that quotes are not your friend. If we included this lengthy and emotive quote, wouldn't we have to have equally lengthy quotes from NASA and Thiokol operatives emotively giving their perspectives? And the article would become awful. No, we summarise, we attribute, we allocate due weight to the sources. This way lies a possible compromise. Would others agree? --John (talk) 00:02, 20 February 2016 (UTC)
I don't follow the motivation for your post above. I'm not trying to have my own personal opinion added to the article. This Talk section is focused on what three people very close to the program had to say about it.
And I had just finished explaining how I don't see any of the quotes as emotive. I see them as factual. These quotes were all made many years removed from 1986. (Perhaps you haven't listened to Veilleux's steady, near-stoic voice.)
As for the potential for the article, or simply the lede, to get bogged down with too many quotes, our task is to select the most salient quotes. Or simply present a summary of what these sources have communicated. My edit effort chose to present the quotes, because I see them to be very concise.--Tdadamemd sioz (talk) 00:19, 20 February 2016 (UTC)
By the way, you're the first person I've seen use the word 'aficionado' regarding their association with 51-L. The root of that word is 'affection'. Maybe I should refer to myself as a 'disgustionado', because knowing the decisions made that led to launching that morning make my innards reel. (I haven't said a word here about the icicles!) Of course, when it comes to editing the article, the only professional approach is to keep such emotions, whether it be affection or disgust, in check.--Tdadamemd sioz (talk) 00:28, 20 February 2016 (UTC)
If the fundamental objection here is that the three quotes listed above are too much (quotes are not your friend), then my suggestion would be to use just the clipped quote that was used in the title of this section:
"...the shuttle was just not designed to fly under those conditions."
That's a total of 11 words. And perhaps the most concise explanation of why this happened.--Tdadamemd sioz (talk) 00:36, 20 February 2016 (UTC)
I agree with you that this is a proposal to add an 11-word quote to the article. I agree with nothing else you say. Aficionado was intended to mean "someone with great interest in and knowledge of", but perhaps I flatter myself. Summarise, don't quote, is the way forward, I repeat. --John (talk) 01:11, 20 February 2016 (UTC)
I seem to have an uncanny ability to offend people. Maybe some day I will figure out why that is.
I had hoped that this section would have grown into a healthy discussion on how we can present the best info on Challenger. So far, that has not happened. It appears that my (lack of) communication skills is the primary reason for that.--Tdadamemd sioz (talk) 03:11, 20 February 2016 (UTC)

"Summarise, don't quote..."[edit]

Ok, in an effort to make progress here by going with John's suggestion to 'summarize, don't quote', I will ask everyone in this discussion to give a 20-word or less summary to explain the cause of the Challenger failure.

Right now, the article communicates "defective o-ring design and bad management". Six words.--Tdadamemd sioz (talk) 03:17, 20 February 2016 (UTC)

References[edit]

Temperature Inconsistencies in "Pre-launch conditions"[edit]

Under the section Pre-launch conditions, there is use of both Fahrenheit and Celsius as the primary temperature (with a few temperatures not containing any conversions). This doesn't seem to be a scientific article, and it is related to the US, so, per WP:UNIT, it seems that Fahrenheit should be the primary temperature with Celsius being the conversion. However, if it is deemed scientific enough, we should at least provide some designations (or conversions) for quotes that contain the temperature in Fahrenheit, but don't specify it.

Example:

When a Thiokol manager asked Ebeling about the possibility of a launch at 18 degrees, he answered "[W]e're only qualified to 40 degrees ...'what business does anyone even have thinking about 18 degrees, we're in no man's land.'"

I would change this myself, but I don't want to step on toes in case this has already been discussed (I didn't see any signs of it on this talk page or the two archives for it). --Bassmadrigal (talk) 19:10, 7 March 2016 (UTC)

I actually don't know about the quotes. What is our practice for unit conversions in direct quotations? VQuakr (talk) 19:55, 7 March 2016 (UTC)
At a minimum, I think it should at least be indicated they're talking about Fahrenheit: When a Thiokol manager asked Ebeling about the possibility of a launch at 18F degrees, he answered "[W]e're only qualified to 40F degrees ...'what business does anyone even have thinking about 18F degrees, we're in no man's land.'"
But I still think the page is a "non-scientific articles relating to the United States", which would indicate we should use Fahrenheit and provide the conversion to Celsius (not sure about the rules of conversions within quotes). --Bassmadrigal (talk) 20:57, 7 March 2016 (UTC)

POV language reversions[edit]

There was a revert war happening between an IP (characterized as "block-evading long term disruptive editor") and established editors. The IP was removing POV language that was unsourced. After the last reversion of the IP's edits I took responsibility for the edit. Now I have been reverted with an edit summary of "Can we take this to the talk page rather than constantly going back and forth with reversions?" So I am bringing it here. There are three real changes to the article.

  1. Removal of "best-known" from the sentence "One of the commission's best-known members was theoretical physicist Richard Feynman."
    Is Richard Feynman one of the "best-known" members when Neil Armstrong and Chuck Yeager were also members?
  2. Replacement of the word "mortally" with "seriously" in the sentence "Feynman, who was then mortally ill with cancer, was reluctant to undertake the job."
    Was Richard Feynman mortally ill 2 years before he died or was he seriously ill at the time?
  3. Removal of the word "famously" in the sentence "During a televised hearing, he famously demonstrated how the O-rings became less resilient and subject to seal failures at ice-cold temperatures by immersing a sample of the material in a glass of ice water."
    Who, other than this article, characterizes his demonstration as famous?

Hopefully we can come to some consensus whether these are good changes or not. -- GB fan 12:39, 17 May 2016 (UTC)

Thanks for starting this with some excellent points! I only reverted your edit and suggested it go to the talk page since it seemed that regular wikipedia contributors were reverting the changes back to the "best-known, mortally, and famously" from the changes imposed by (mostly) IPs and it looked like it was going to continue since there were very few arguments listed in any of the edit summaries.
After seeing your reasoning, I am fine with you reverting my revert, however, I am but a small name with no real clout on wikipedia. I'd probably wait to hear from ScrapIronIV, Materialscientist, and JamesBWatson3, as they were the initial people reverting the changes. Thanks for the level-headedness! --Bassmadrigal (talk) 13:16, 17 May 2016 (UTC)
Bassmadrigal, so if I understand correctly, you didn't revert my edit because you thought it was wrong or you thought the older version was better, you reverted it because others had reverted the same edit before because of block evasion. You reverted my edit to stop a potential future revert war, does that make sense? I understand the reason for reverting block evaders without looking to determine the validity of the edit but other than that, I don't understand blindly reverting edits. If you had questions about why I made the edit, why didn't you ask rather than reverting the edit? -- GB fan 18:16, 17 May 2016 (UTC)
Yes, I reverted it to stop a potential future revert war. And the reason I did it is because I didn't know you from any of the other editors. Several known editors (known, in that they were logged into an account rather than random IPs, not that I'm familiar with their contributions) prior to you had reverted the various anonymous IPs proposing the same edit as you. It had already gone back and forth several times before you went in with an extremely short edit summary that didn't expound on why your edit should stay (which, if you noticed a reverting war starting, I feel there should be a better edit summary). Yes, now that you've specified it better here, I totally understand it (and agree with it), but since it already seemed like an edit war was taking place, I chose to suggest bringing it to the talk page so discussion could be made rather than continuing the edit war. Without providing a more concise edit summary (something like, "removing POV that is unsourced"), it is anybody's guess as to why you're making the changes you are. Maybe I should've done more research on the matter, but I'd been seeing it bounce back and forth in my watchlist, each time the new version would be reverted by actual editors rather than anon IPs. I figured those known editors were more familiar with the source than the random IPs. Sorry for any problems I may have caused.--Bassmadrigal (talk) 20:13, 17 May 2016 (UTC)
I can tell you without a doubt that none of the three of them would have come back here and reverted me. They were reverting the ip because he was a sock puppet. They would not come here and revert an admin and over sighter over a good edit. You really should do more research and understand what is going on before you act. -- GB fan 22:12, 17 May 2016 (UTC)
Well, I didn't know you were an admin, and as you stated, the other three editors had reverted the same edit, so when someone else came and reverted their reverts, I figured it was possibly that person logging into an account to try and push their agenda. Your "good edit" was the exact edit that the previous three people reverted, so I felt I was founded in reverting it and suggesting movement to the talk page. Again, your edit summary was pretty weak and could've had more substance to prevent questioning why it was changed back to the version that had previously been reverted (and I would've glossed over the entry in my watchlist). I am not going to thoroughly research every aspect of an article and its editor to ensure the changes they suggested are to be left (most of the time I accept them without question if there's no obvious reason to question them). If a change mimics previously reverted edits (and those edits seem to be constantly brought back and then reverted), I'd probably make a similar decision again to suggest bringing it to the talk page. This was nothing against you or your edits, just trying to prevent additional reverts and get a discussion going so everyone can be on the same page. Sorry I took time away from your other admin duties.--Bassmadrigal (talk) 22:44, 17 May 2016 (UTC)
Reverting to stop reverts doesn't make any sense at all. -- GB fan 01:36, 18 May 2016 (UTC)
It was a good way to ensure all the people involved paid attention to it. I've tried raising issues myself on talk pages and everyone just ignores them. But an edit summary asking people to take it to the talk page seemed like a better option.--Bassmadrigal (talk) 02:04, 18 May 2016 (UTC)
You didn't take any time away from anything. I do what I want. If I didn't want to talk about this I wouldn't. I just think you didn't think through your revert enough before you did it. -- GB fan 01:55, 18 May 2016 (UTC)
I did think through it, although, it seems that we would come to different decisions in each other's shoes.--Bassmadrigal (talk) 02:04, 18 May 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Another question if you will indulge me. As you thought through what you were going to do, why did you think the version you reverted to was an improvement to the article? -- GB fan 10:07, 18 May 2016 (UTC)

I hadn't read enough into Richard Feynman to know whether he was mortally ill at the time. Your comment here stating that he lived 2 years after the commission was the first I'd realized it. I also didn't remember that there were other well-known members of the commission. But, as I stated above, the only reason I reverted it is because it was the exact same edit that previous (logged in) editors had reverted. I've seen it plenty of times when people try and push their agendas into an article and the other editors continually revert them. I didn't look deep enough into it to see if one version was better than the other, just that your version had been consistently reverted by other editors, so I reverted it as well and suggested that it move to the talk page to prevent a further revert war. Had I known you were an admin, I wouldn't have reverted your edit. For all I knew, you were one of the random IPs who decided to log in to push their changes. I figured it was better to take discussion to the talk page and leave the page to the version it was before the random IPs started changing it.--Bassmadrigal (talk) 13:04, 18 May 2016 (UTC)
@GB fan: I absolutely agree with your changes. "Best-known", "mortally", and "famously" stink so badly, I don't know if it's appropriate to call them peacock or weasel words; their uncited use qualifies as OR and seems to push a POV. I'd even go so far as to call it purple prose. This also raises an issue I've seen and don't like, that once an editor has been blocked for policy violations, that is taken as license to regard all of the person's edits as somehow "tainted" and fair game for reversion (regardless of their merit); this makes no sense at all and is not good for the Wikipedia. @ScrapIronIV: @Materialscientist: and @JamesBWatson: please explain yourselves. JustinTime55 (talk) 14:47, 17 May 2016 (UTC)


Implications regarding ejection system[edit]

The opening paragraphs mention the ejection system and implies that had there been an ejection system the astronauts might have lived, making the assertions that a) several astronauts survived the initial explosion and b) the previous ejection system was removed. Assertion a has no citation and as I understand is a hotly debated topic, so shouldn't be taken for granted. Assertion b is completely true, but consists of a lie through ommission. It implies, when combined with the previous assertion, that with this ejection system lives may have been saved. This is completely untrue, as evidenced by various sources:

http://articles.latimes.com/1988-04-08/news/mn-1124_1_crew-members

http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1988/Shuttle-Carrying-New-Escape-System/id-50c3be84147652b242204463a5b036d5

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2003/02/could_ejection_seats_have_saved_the_columbiaastronauts.html

http://space.stackexchange.com/questions/1325/why-didnt-the-space-shuttle-have-a-launch-escape-system

So, I think that section is best removed. I'm not a regular contributor so I'll leave the decision up to someone else to make, but it seems clear to me that it's inaccurate and really somewhat inappropriate. 138.38.7.96 (talk) 19:50, 23 October 2016 (UTC)

Challenger, go at throttle up (not "with")[edit]

First of all, the official transcript of the Challenger voice recorder tape at https://history.nasa.gov/transcript.html states "Roger, go at throttle up."

Also in File:Challenger_Mission_Control.ogv we hear the words being spoken inside the control room, with slightly better audio quality than the audio accompanying the launch footage, and with subtitles that say "go at throttle up".

However, the clearest indications come from the audio of other shuttle launches, of which there are numerous videos on YouTube. Every shuttle launch has a throttling-down phase to about 72% followed by throttle up. In some of these videos the phrasing is very much more distinct and unmistakable.

For example, watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJb1mDME6J4&t=1m37s (at 1:37), which shows the launch of Columbia's last (ill-fated) flight, where the "at" is entirely unambiguous: "Columbia, Houston, you're 'go' at throttle up".

The phrasing "you are go" is also used in Discovery's final launch, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy1Nc4YpAUI&t=12m05s (at 12:05), which suggests that the "go" in "Challenger, go at throttle up" was not a command but perhaps an authorization or even a simple status notification.

[strike out original phrasing, which was too strongly a personal interpretation]

In Discovery's final launch the words "Discovery, Houston, you are go at throttle up" are spoken at 12:05, eight seconds after the captions show that the SSME Thrust indicator has already reached 104% at 11:57. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy1Nc4YpAUI&t=11m55s (at 11:55). We are already in the "throttle up" stage, and control is telling us that all systems are go at this stage.

In other words, this is not an instruction to the shuttle pilot to "go with throttle up", rather it confirms that the status is a "go" at the "throttle up" stage. See dictionary.com meaning no. 55 for "go": an adjective meaning "functioning properly and ready", with the sample phrase "all systems are go" in the context of a rocket launch.

P.T. Aufrette (talk) 04:57, 7 February 2017 (UTC)

Indeed. See also [6], lots of go! :) Polyamorph (talk) 11:56, 7 February 2017 (UTC)

Goals[edit]

Generally, it's good practice to include the planned mission goals of the launch. This seems to be lacking here. 40.142.183.194 (talk) 18:34, 21 February 2017 (UTC)

That would be in the article about the mission, not this one. See STS-51-L. - GB fan 18:37, 21 February 2017 (UTC)

Videos section[edit]

The opening for the videos section mentions 7 videos. There are 8 bulleted videos. While I cannot imagine one of them being uncounted yet still being in the list, I will ask here. Zaccari (talk) 18:54, 5 April 2017 (UTC)

Diane Vaughan's book and Normalization of Deviance[edit]

Hi, I just read Diane Vaughan's very excellent book "The Challenger Launch Decision". It is very well researched and presents different root causes to the Rogers and Presidential commissions. Namely, her belief that the root cause was not managers acting as "amoral calculators" and breaking rules, but instead the causes are rooted in work group culture, false paradigm in belief in o-ring redundancy, and normalization of deviance. I find it surprising none of this is mentioned in this article, and the concept of "normalization of deviance" is not even mentioned. I was going to add some information on this well respected research, however if this has been hotly debated in the past I don't want to blunder into the hornet's nest! Can anyone advise if there is opposition to adding some of this material? Thanks. Zatoichi26 (talk) 20:41, 14 April 2017 (UTC)

I added some relevant facts from Vaughan's book to the O-Rings Concerns section, but my above question still stands regarding adding some of her conclusions on the cause. Zatoichi26 (talk) 21:19, 14 April 2017 (UTC)

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