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  #1  
Old 29 January 2011, 06:40 AM
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Flame 7 myths about the Challenger shuttle disaster

It didn't explode, the crew didn't die instantly and it wasn't inevitable.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11031097/
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  #2  
Old 29 January 2011, 03:38 PM
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Are there really people who believe the last one, that the accident was unavoidable? I thought even NASA had admitted that wasn't the case.

Quote:
Myth #3: The crew died instantly
I read a newspaper article many years ago that made that clear.
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  #3  
Old 29 January 2011, 03:38 PM
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In a nutshell it wasn't an "accident". It was entirely foreseeable that there was an unacceptably high risk of catastrophic failure. There were huge piles of data saying a problem was likely. The conditions at launch were way outside the design specifications.

The crash was the result of a stupid but conscious decision, it was not an accident.
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  #4  
Old 29 January 2011, 03:48 PM
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Yeah, I don't know why I even used that word. I was thinking "disaster."

I try not to spend much time thinking about this subject, as it makes me very angry, and there's not one damn thing I can do about it.
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  #5  
Old 29 January 2011, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
viewers on the ground just heard the roar of the engines stop as the shuttle’s fuel tank tore apart, spilling liquid oxygen and hydrogen which formed a huge fireball at an altitude of 46,000 ft. (Some television documentaries later added the sound of an explosion to these images.)
(italics added)

Oh for NSFBSK sake... ...that's tackier than a sticky doorknob.
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  #6  
Old 29 January 2011, 11:41 PM
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I was looking through the pictures at the bottom of the article. I can't link to it, but one is a group of school children, there to watch the launch. In the picture the child in the middle is Peter Billingsley, of A Christmas Story fame. He was a classmate of Christa McAuliffe's son.

I think the one thing about this that always hit me the hardest was that they didn't die instantly. I can only pray they lost consciousness quickly, and weren't aware for the nearly 3 minute fall back to earth.
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  #7  
Old 29 January 2011, 11:47 PM
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My friend Holly was student teaching in Akron at the time. Her first grade class watched the launch live. Judith Resnik, one of the astronauts, was from Akron. One of the kids in Holly's class knew her.
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  #8  
Old 30 January 2011, 12:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
Are there really people who believe the last one, that the accident was unavoidable? I thought even NASA had admitted that wasn't the case.
When I saw reports on TV after it happened-- not immediately, but more like six months after, when people were starting to let loose with some of the black humor that comes after the initial shock wears off-- I remember seeing a few stories on it, as information dribbled out of Washington, or on six month anniversary shows, or something, where there'd be footage of the astronauts walking to the shuttle in their flight suits, and there'd be a voice-over saying something about walking up the steps to the gallows.

I think there were a lot of people saying things like once the go ahead for the launch to proceed was given the death certificates were signed. That sort of fatalism is what I think of when I hear that the disaster was unavoidable-- or that the astronauts themselves could not have done anything to stop it.

People say idiotic things, and while maybe people I knew in 1986 were not good examples of anything, I remember lots of people asking whether the astronauts had done something wrong. Although-- I guess when you first hear about it, haven't seen the footage, and don't realize it took less than two minutes, the question might pop into your head.

But that the disaster was the inevitable result of the march of progress, like the death of a cow is the inevitable result of your cheeseburger, that's just beyond the pale.
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  #9  
Old 30 January 2011, 04:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RivkahChaya View Post
I think there were a lot of people saying things like once the go ahead for the launch to proceed was given the death certificates were signed. That sort of fatalism is what I think of when I hear that the disaster was unavoidable-- or that the astronauts themselves could not have done anything to stop it.
What could the astronauts have done to stop it, aside from refusing to launch under the given conditions? Or was that what you were getting at?
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  #10  
Old 30 January 2011, 04:29 PM
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Disregard... I misread the question...

~Psihala

Last edited by Psihala; 30 January 2011 at 04:35 PM.
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  #11  
Old 30 January 2011, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASL View Post
What could the astronauts have done to stop it, aside from refusing to launch under the given conditions? Or was that what you were getting at?
Nothing. That is my point. Especially when you consider that someone like McAuliffe would have no idea whether conditions were right for launch, and put herself in the hands of NASA.

Another note: immediately after it happened, the public didn't know it wasn't the fault of the astronauts themselves. Anyone with any basic knowledge of how a shuttle worked wouldn't think the astronauts were responsible, but for a day or so after the disaster, a lot of people wondered outloud whether an error on the part of the astronauts could have been the cause.

It seems stupid now, and I don't know that anyone who asked the question while thinking that it was the most likely thing, but maybe a few were thinking that if it somehow was the astronaut's error, there was less guilt for the rest of us.

Again, not a possibility entertained by NASA, or physics professors, but a layperson, whose idea of the launch involves the astronauts driving the shuttle into the sky the way a pilot flies an airplane at takeoff, they would wonder if there were some sort "user error," for lack of a better term.
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  #12  
Old 31 January 2011, 03:11 AM
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Airplane

Most interesting.

Our flight accident investigation course (called Flight Safety) uses the Challenger disaster as one of the case studies. It is a perfect example of group think in a large organisation.

We also applied Reasoner's Model of human factors to the accident and it was crystal clear how the tragedy could have been prevented.

It's hard to believe it has been that long.
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  #13  
Old 31 January 2011, 03:45 AM
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I remember getting let out of middle school for a little while to watch the coverage on CNN in the cafeteria. I'm pretty sure we didn't watch it live, although many of us were looking forward to it due to Christa McAuliffe teaching while on board the shuttle. Nonetheless, as morbidly fascinated as I am by disasters, I'd never really read up on the Challenger and as such didn't realize that the flight members did not die instantly when the thing exploded (which it apparently didn't do either).

That's a really messed up way to die. I wonder if they were at all conscious at that point, and I wonder too what would be the better way to go: to have a couple minutes of time to make peace with yourself or to have it all end at once.
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  #14  
Old 31 January 2011, 04:08 AM
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This is definitely one of those "Where were you when...." moments.

I was at primary school when Columbia was first launched. I was very interested in this, as it was included in our studies. So when Challenger blew up 5 years later, I was mortified.
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  #15  
Old 31 January 2011, 05:06 AM
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From the OP article:

Quote:
...viewers on the ground just heard the roar of the engines stop as the shuttle’s fuel tank tore apart, spilling liquid oxygen and hydrogen which formed a huge fireball at an altitude of 46,000 ft...
Well, yes and no. That's what they heard, but that's not necessarily what it looked like. When something is that far away, the difference between the speed of sound and the speed of light means that what you see and what you hear will not synch up. So after eyewitnesses saw the fireball, they would continue to hear the roar of the main engines for many seconds afterward. But I think it might be moot, since the louder and more crackly solid rocket boosters would tend to drown out the shuttle's liquid-fueled mains. The SRBs kept burning until several seconds after the fireball when they were detonated by the range safety crew.

Here's an example of the sight-and-sound discontinuity I mean: This video shows Kevin Eldridge's engine overspeed, seize, and shed its propeller, in that order. However, since the camera and audio recorder is a couple of miles away, the audio suggests that the propeller broke away, causing the engine to overspeed.
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  #16  
Old 31 January 2011, 05:31 PM
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I was working the day of the disaster. A co-worker mentioned Challenger had exploded and I assumed it was a bad joke. Then I received a call from my wife who had been watching the launch. I think my last shred of faith in any institution went with Challenger.

I grew up a space buff. I had faith in NASA. I knew of Apollo 1 and the steps taken to correct the problems. I had lived through Apollo 13 and was pleased with how well they had recovered from that accident. To realize how badly NASA screwed up on Challenger was sheer agony. The other incidents were not directly forseeable. This one was preventable.
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  #17  
Old 31 January 2011, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by damian View Post
I was at primary school when Columbia was first launched. I was very interested in this, as it was included in our studies. So when Challenger blew up 5 years later, I was mortified.
What? Why?
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  #18  
Old 31 January 2011, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoKu View Post
Well, yes and no. That's what they heard, but that's not necessarily what it looked like. When something is that far away, the difference between the speed of sound and the speed of light means that what you see and what you hear will not synch up. So after eyewitnesses saw the fireball, they would continue to hear the roar of the main engines for many seconds afterward.
Also, physics was not my best subject, but low tones don't travel as fast as high tones, however, low tone travel farther, which would make a difference at the distances that we're talking about. People right at the launch site heard something different from what people standing much farther back heard.

Adding "explosion" sounds was mendacious, but people editing news broadcasts, and dealing with Challenger footage probably had poor recordings of the actual sound-- the sound equipment the TV crews had may not even have been adequate for the sounds in the first place-- were confused by what noises went with which frame, and had no idea themselves what it "should" have sounded like (ie, grasp of the physics of what was happening), so they guessed, and added something from stock sounds, more out of ignorance than a desire to sensationalize the story.
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  #19  
Old 31 January 2011, 07:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chloe View Post
What? Why?
I noticed that too Chloe; I just assumed he meant something more like "horrified."
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  #20  
Old 31 January 2011, 07:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sylvanz View Post
I noticed that too Chloe; I just assumed he meant something more like "horrified."
Oops, You're right.
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