Space Shuttle and Space Exploration Program Essay

Submitted By jglow2244
Words: 608
Pages: 3

I have never taken much interest in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and their efforts until recently, and it was because of this curiosity that I came across a very well known disaster. The United States has always taken pleasure in its space exploration program and has been very successful in their efforts of getting man to the Moon and back. But, on January 28th, 1986 the space shuttle Challenger exploded only seventy-three seconds after take off from Cape Canaveral. Six astronauts and a school teacher fell to their death into the Atlantic Ocean.
There were many ethical issues that were faced with this launch, but the one that I will refer to for this case study was the fact that NASA’s leadership failed because they did not consider the safety of these individuals, but merely were concerned about getting the Challenger off the ground and making “history.” The politics and managerial decisions that were involved outweighed the importance of human safety to them
The Challenger spent 3 nights on the launch pad, and an O-ring on one of the solid rocket boosters had become brittle within these 3 nights of cool temperatures. The engineers were concerned that the cold temperatures on the launch pad were below the design threshold for the O-rings and a teleconference took place the night before the launch. The engineers had little time to put together a presentation and upper management felt pressured by numerous reasons. One large pressure was that President Regan was to give his State of the Union address the night of the launch and was stressing the importance of sending an educator on such an operation and the purpose itself. The engineers presentation gave false and misleading information (because it was thrown together last minute) so Thiokol, Kennedy Space Center, and Marshall Space Flight Center decided there was not enough information communicated that these O-rings would be a good reason to postpone the launching of the Challenger - they decided to proceed. Instead of making positive “history”, we lost some very important individuals because of the greed and stupidity of upper management and their decisions.
So why was the launch of the Challenger not postponed? When faced with ethical decisions, why do leaders take one path over the other? It…