The purpose of the report is to capture the project’s lessonslearned for use by other similar future projects to determine the problems thatoccurred and how those problems were handled and may be avoided in the future. Thisreport will give information about the overview of the Space Shuttle ChallengerDisaster with supporting graphics and explanation. In addition, this document detailsthe lessons learnt from the project failures, evaluation andrecommendation of the project’s failure for future projects. 1. NASASpace Shuttle Challenger Disaster OverviewShortly before noon on January 28th, 1986, theSpace Shuttle Challenger took off with seven astronauts on board. Among themwere five career astronauts who would conduct some of these experiments and twopayload specialists. The space shuttle mission had several items on its agenda.Among them was the Spartan?Halley satellite to monitor Halley’s Comet and the conductingof experiments in fluid dynamics and phase partitioning.
Lift-off started at 11:38am local time and progress as expected. However, it explodes 73 seconds afterlift-off.Figure 1.1 The O-ringAccording toa scenario, hot gases escaped the seal in two stages. At the process ofignition, they bored through a ring of putty and portions of two rubbergaskets, creating a thick black cloud of smoke clearly visible in photographs.
Theremains of the first of the gaskets may then have “seated’ in the joint,but only until 59 seconds into the flight, when a rapid built up of pressureand abruptly changing the forces to jarred them loose, and the hot gasesescaped. Eventually, it weakened the attachment to the main fuel tank whichresults in an explosion. (R. Jeffrey Smith, 1986)Figure 1.
2The Space Shuttle After this incident President Ronald Reagan launched anofficial investigation (the Rogers Commission) to examine the cause. Firstly, the Rogers Commissionfound that the disaster was caused by a malfunction of the O?rings used to seal a joint in the rightSolid Rocket Booster (SRB), one of STS’ primary sources of thrust. It was foundthat the O?ringmalfunction was related with the extremely low temperatures at launch that hadnever been experienced by NASA’s other mission.The Rogers Commission also identified communication failurebetween engineers and managers across the multiple organizations, as acontributing cause of the accident. The Rogers Commission Report (which theauthors refer to as “RCR, 1986”) recommended not only a re?design of the joint seals, but also anoverhauling of organizational communication and structures within NASA.
Figure 1.3 Joint RotationManagers and engineers at the three NASA organizations andThiokol were aware of, but did not consider a threat. ‘At 1977, during thetests engineers at Thiokol discovered a problem known as “joint rotation”.
However,they did not believe that joint rotation would cause significant problems, butwhen they reported it to MSFC (MarshallSpace Flight Center) , engineers therethought just the opposite ‘(Ajith Kumar J., Amaresh Chakrabarti, 2012). MSFC engineers recommended a redesign of the joint,with specific suggestions.
However, Thiokol did not consider a redesignnecessary (Ajith Kumar J., Amaresh Chakrabarti, 2012).In November 1981, after the flight of STS?2, the Thiokol engineer discover theO-ring erosion caused by hot gasses. However, when the STS 41?B flew in February 1984, the engineersfound stronger evidence of erosion along with an accompanying problem known asblow?by, wherein greasy soot accumulates onthe O?rings (Ajith Kumar J.
, AmareshChakrabarti, 2012). This problem was immediately reported to MSFC engineers, butthey didn’t consider it as a huge threat (RCR, 1986, Chapter 4, p. 11).
The erosion problemwas also brought to the management at MSFC, but never became a concern.