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Free «Space Shuttle Challenger» Essay Sample

Cause(s) of the Accident

The accident of the Space Shuttle Challenger happened on the morning of January 28, 1986. It killed all 7 people on board. The probable cause of the accident was the malfunction of the astern joint seal in the right-sided solid rocket booster (SRB), and this was majorly blamed on the snowing weather in the region. A burning gas seeped out from the right Solid Rocket Motor astern field joint and started at or soon after ignition ultimately destabilized and/or infiltrated the external tank setting off the Challenger structural disintegration and consequent loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger (The Cause of the Accident, n.d.).

Structural and Mechanical Factors

The commission which was appointed by the president to investigate the disaster found out mechanical failures of the washers technically called the O-rings to stop hot gases from escaping all the way through the joint at the time of propellant burning of the rocket motor.

Causes that were put forth as contributors to the joint sealing malfunction included contamination or damage that could have happened at the time of the Space Shuttle Challenger assembly. The opening amid the joints had probably developed as an outcome of previous utilization of the solid rocket motors. Another factor could have been the temperature gradient as the atmospheric temperature at the time of launch was 36 degrees while that of the field joint to the right was 28. This also counts to the performance of the zinc chromate or putty that was used on the joint (The Cause of the Accident, n.d.).



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Contributive Factors

Several contributive factors of the shuttle accidents were put forth which showed that NASA’s resolution to initiate the shuttle were greatly flawed. Top notch decision makers were not informed on the issues surrounding the O-rings together with the joints and were not aware of the contractor’s recommendation not to launch the shuttle at temperatures under 53 degrees Fahrenheit (The Contributing Cause of The Accident, n.d.).

Moreover, manufacturing management and data judgments were inconsistent, and NASA's executive construction allowed domestic flight security issues to sidestep major Shuttle managers. None of the concerns concerning the low down hotness and its consequence on the O-ring or the frost that created on the start pad had been conversed sufficiently to higher-ranking administration or rather given adequate heaviness by those who decided to launch. Additionally, the serious stress on keeping up with the calendar of Shuttle launches and a striving voyage charge watered down the assets accessible for a solitary operation and dreadfully probable compromised quality (The Contributing Cause of The Accident, n.d.).

Investigation Board Findings

The result of the investigative commission concluded that the origin of the Challenger accident was entirely the malfunction of the joint located in the right solid rocket motor, and this started with resolutions made in the blueprint of the same joint and in the letdown by both NASA and Thiokol to comprehend and act in response to particulars obtained at the time of testing (The Cause of the Accident, n.d.).


The commission recommended that the defective Solid Rocket Motor joint together with the seal have to be changed by either coming up with new designs or redesign the existing joint and seal. Also, the Shuttle program construction had to be evaluated. Communication amongst relevant project managers had to be improved.

The commissioner of NASA ought to appeal the National Research Council to make an autonomous Solid Rocket Motor blueprint supervision committee to execute the Commission's blueprint proposals and administer the design endeavor. NASA should set up an STS Advisory Board to be answerable directly to the STS Program Director. In addition, NASA had to create an Office of Quality Assurance, Reliability and Safety to be led by an Associate supervisor, answerable only to the NASA supervisor (Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster, n.d.).

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Immediately after the accident, the whole Space Shuttle initiative was beached throughout the commission's inquiry and did not recommence flying till Shuttle developers made a number of mechanical adjustments, which included an enhanced O-ring models as well as adding a crew security scheme, and, at the same time, the NASA executive executed stricter rules concerning quality safety and control (Rumerman, n.d.).


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