Yesterday marked an anniversary of the tragic Space Shuttle Challenger flight. It's been almost forty years.
Few saw the event live: TV networks didn't broadcast the launch and cable TV wasn't popular yet. Media showed tape of the tragedy endlessly but only after it happened.
While the physical cause of the explosion was technical (failure of O-ring seals) its real cause was human error. NASA administrators felt pressured to move forward with a scheduled launch despite warnings from engineers that weather conditions were unsafe. (Cold temperature made the seals fail.) There was no escape mechanism for the shuttle -- despite being available --because NASA officials decided it was too expensive.
A Presidential Commission investigated the incident and concluded NASA officials were to blame. The Commission recommended changing the decision-making process at the agency to improve safety in future flights. Essentially bureaucrats are now forced to pay more attention to engineers.
Post-crash investigation showed, sadly, that most of the seven astronauts survived the air explosion but died three minutes later when the crew module hit the ocean at 200 mph. There was nothing they could do during that time and their bodies were torn apart by impact.
Do you remember this sad event?