Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster
The challenger space shuttle accident occurred in January, 6, 1986 and several scholars have written on the communication problems that caused the incidence. The shuttle exploded in the air and seven crew members lost their lives. The Rogers Commission issued its findings and found that the accident occurred due to a failure in the joint in the lower segments of the right solid rocket motor. The seals that are designed to prevent the hot gases from leaking during the propellant burn of the rocket motor had been completely destroyed (Romzek & Dubnick, 2006). When O-ring anomalies began in 1984, the management and the engineers at MTI did not treat them as serious when they communicated the findings to the Marshalls.
The MTI engineers stated in a report that even if the primary O-rings were damaged, the second ring would prove to be a sufficient seal. However, a year earlier findings had shown that the second ring was not sufficient as it was prone to joint rotation. The pressure during the launch widened the gap that the O-rings had to seal. The gap widened due to the two sides of the O-ring bending apart. The secondary ring would therefore be pulled completely out of its grove and the hole would not be sealed. Furthermore the Marshalls only showed serious considerations to the anomalies when they communicated downwards to the engineers. They treated the incidences as minor when they communicated the engineer’s findings to the NASA headquarters. This shows that people were unwilling to receive bad news and held an optimistic view of the O-rings that proved to be disastrous (Windsor, 1988). The decision to launch the shuttle was therefore wrong. The ones who made the decision had no proper or adequate knowledge of the recent problems associated with O-rings and the initial recommendation by the contractor against the launch at temperatures that were below 53 degrees Fahrenheit. If all the information had been known the launch would not have taken place.
Romzek, B. & Dubnick, M. (2006). Accountability in the Public Sector: Lessons from the
Challenger Disaster. Public Administration Review, 47(3), 227-238.
Windsor, D. (1988). Communication Failures Contributing to the Challenger
Accident: An Example for Technical Communicators. IEEE Transactions On Professional Communication, 31 (3), 101-107.