Challenger Essay, Research Paper
Many people still remember where they were, what they were doing, and what they felt when they heard about the tragedy of the Challenger. The Challenger disaster served as a violent and shocking reminder that man s quest for the final discovery of our galaxy had never really begun. The Challenger explosion made us see the dark side of the space program, our government at fault, and our mistakes.
Seven crew members were assigned to the Challenger shuttle mission. They were Commander Richard Scobee, Pilot Micheal Smith, Mission Specialist Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, and Ronald McNair. Gregory Jarvis was the Aerospace Engineer, and Christa McAuliffe was a teacher from New Hampshire (Vaughan 1).
The Challenger mission was first scheduled for launch January 22, 1986, but had to be changed several times, first to January 23, then to January 25 and yet again to January 26. The forecast for the Challenger launch was finally rescheduled for January 27. On January 27, as the countdown was proceeding, the microswitch indicator showed that the exterior hatch-locking mechanism had not
closed properly. By the time it was fixed the wind speed exceeded the launch comity criteria (Vaughan 2).
At 11:25 a.m. the countdown began for the shuttle liftoff. The Challenger was launched at 11:38 a.m. and ended 73 seconds later. It disappeared in a huge cloud of smoke. Smoke from the explosion drifted about as fragments of the shuttle dropped toward the Atlantic Ocean, nine miles below. All seven crew members perished (Vaughan 7).
Spectators stood with their mouths open in disbelief as they watched the shuttle explode in front of their eyes. Where is the bird? (Jensen 398) one technician shouted at another. The loudspeakers crackled: We have no downlink. The engineers concluded. Obviously a major malfunction. (Jensen 398)After a very long pause, the Houston commentator went back on the air to assure everyone that the situation was going to be looked at very closely (Jensen 398).
The next day, every newspaper was filled with reports of the disaster and the speculation began. The Challenger disaster led to a sharp increase of interest in the space program. Three days after the shuttle exploded, a memorial service was held. The service was held in NASA Johnson Space Flight Center where tributes to the crew were heard.
On February 3, the President announced the names of the thirteen members in charge to investigate the cause and to make sure it would never happen again (Trento 324). The Challenger wreckage was brought ashore six weeks after it hit the ocean. The crew module was recovered and all seven astronauts were removed and carefully examined. The seven astronauts were all buried with full honors (Bond 56).
Investigators cited manufacturing pressure and decision-making as the reason behind the disaster. The Presidential Commission uncovered an )-ring failure, and flawed decision making at the space agency(Lewis, 176).The flawed decision was the last minute unheard protest, made by engineers, over the solid rocket boosters. They thought something was wrong but know one checked to make sure.
Examination of evidence and computer graphic positioning eventually determined that the flame originated from the right S.R.B.(Shuttle Rocket Boosters) at about the 350-degree circumferential position. (Lewis 52). Cameras around the lift off showed black smoke jetting from the LC-39B pad right before take off. The final conclusion to the failure was due to a faulty design unacceptably sensitive to a number of factors. These factors were the effects of temperature, physical dimensions, the character of materials that were not checked properly, the effects of reliability, processing, and reaction to dynamic loading (Lewis 52).
After a few months had passed, warning against building a new shuttle to replace the Challenger wasn t given much thought. When NASA finally did speak out, they thought that quite different and more up-to-date devices should replace the faulty ones. The crew for the next flight was finally announced on January 9, 1987. Rick Hauck was the Commander, Richard Covey the Pilot, John Lounge, George Nelson, and David Hilmers were the Mission Specialists. After much debate and still some skepticism, the launch date for shuttle 26 was announced as February 18, 1988. The Discovery was making the flight to carry TDRS-C into orbit (Lewis 353).
Americans for the first time began to see a dark side to our nations prized space program. May felt that a disaster like this was going to happen but most just ignored the idea. Vaughan started the practical lessons from The Challenger accident warns us about the hazards of living in this technological age (442). To this day many people still believe that. The Challenger explosion marked the end of the era of unthinking faith in American technology (Trento 347). Americans reacted with grief, numbness, and disbelief.
As Diane Vaughan puts it, Some events are experienced by great numbers of people, diverse, in interests, age, race, ethnicity, life style, and life changes, gender, language, and place, who temporarily become bound together by a historic moment (432) The Challenger is an event which will probably never be forgotten in America.