piclist 2002\08\20\020840a >
Thread: Space travel disasters
www.piclist.com/techref/index.htm?key=space+travel+disasters
face picon face BY : Jinx email (remove spam text)



>  I wonder, if there were any awkward engineer who asked
> stupid questions sorta

My understanding (borne out in the official report) is that Morton
Thiokol engineers made their feelings well known to management.
Management eventually chose to side with NASA. One particulalry
gob-smacking part of the doco went something like -

Morton Thiokol engineers expressed concerns to management
and management ignored them, even though the testing program
the engineers wanted to get running was fairly routine. In a phone
conference between MT and NASA, the MT engineers present
repeated those concerns to NASA, but no one either believed them
or had the guts to stand by them. After the conference, management
had a "quiet word" with engineers and at the next meeting, Morton
Thiokol management told NASA that the system was OK after all.
NASA did not ask why the MT engineers had done a complete about
face, but appeared complicit in the knowledge that a low temperature
launch (it was below freezing that day - the previous days' good weather
had been predicted as storms and so no launch had been planned)
was a definite risk. AFAIR the tested limit for the O-rings was 40F, and
no MT engineer would or could make any objective comment about
sub-40F temperatures being safe. The engineers provided more than
enough data and answered enough stupid questions for a "sensible"
decision to be made. There seemed to be no room for any kind of
misinterpretation as to what would be the consequences of such an
out-of-spec launch

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