Research Essay.


Ronald Reagan, the then President of USA, formed a special committee named Rogers Commission to investigate the catastrophe.

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The Space Shuttle Challenger was named mission STS-51-L, using two solid rocket boosters (SRBs) with primary and secondary O-rings. The Space Shuttle main engines are in complete computer control and the launch can be called off until the vertical lift-off of the spacecraft. The telemetry was recorded in precise seconds and data and photography of the lift-off were documented in real time.

The design requirements of the Challenger space shuttle were two O-rings, primary and secondary, per each SRB segment. The orbiter, external fuel tank, and the SRBs with O-rings were the main technology used. Furthermore, the material with which the O-rings were made was fluoroelastomer, which was not tested under the conditions in which the launch took place. The same O-rings had been used in previous launches and it had appeared to work fine. This is why the staff at NASA ignored the warnings issued by Thiokol engineers despite the O-rings having a “criticality one component.” (NASA 1986)

Another technological component that had a major role in the Challenger disaster was the launch pad. The engineers at Thiokol also deliberated their concerns that the space shuttle had spent three nights on the launch pad that was covered in ice, due to a temperature noted at less than -7 degree Celsius. They argued that the launch pad was not tested under these conditions.

As the event was photographed and documented to the closest seconds, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster investigation showed every detail of what happened or what went wrong. It was noted through pad cameras that from T+0.678 to T+3.375 dense smoke of dark grey colour was seen emitting from the aft strut that connected the right-hand booster with the external tank.

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