The Tragic Story Of The Challenger Disaster

The Tragic Story Of The Challenger Disaster

On the night before the Challenger explosion, multiple engineers from Morton Thiokol recommended that the launch be delayed. Their concerns centered around the unusually cold weather forecast, as frigid temperatures could interfere with the O-ring seals in the shuttle's rocket boosters. Engineer Roger Boisjoly led the presentation of their concerns. But NASA pushed back, frustrated by the prospect of postponing the launch and downplaying the team's reservations. Eventually, Morton Thiokol managers decided to give NASA the okay to launch, a decision that proved fatal for all seven members of Challenger's crew. This story is particularly heartbreaking given that Boisjoly had expressed similar concerns six months earlier, and submitted a memo warning that "a catastrophe of the highest order" would occur if temperatures were too low during the launch.

20:15

Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    The space shuttle Columbia was the first of its kind, attached to an external fuel tank and two solid rocket boosters, the joints of which were sealed with O-rings. (2:52)

  • 2

    The night before the Challenger disaster, engineers from Morton Thiokol recommended that NASA delay the launch until the temperature was more favorable. (7:57)

  • 3

    The Columbia crew was told that NASA had no safety concerns about the shuttle, despite engineers repeatedly expressing reservations. (16:03)

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