The Challenger Disaster WHAT WENT WRONG!? Ethical Issues

The Challenger Disaster, WHAT WENT WRONG, Ethical Issues

The Challenger Disaster

Challenger was the tragic and great NASA’S space shuttle

The purpose of the shuttle was to make multiple trips and launch satellite into space challenger was one of NASA’S greatest triumphs. It was the second shuttle to reach space, on 1st April 1983. But also challenger was NASA’S greatest tragedy. Challenger had Already completed 9 mission before this one. On its tenth launch, on Jan 1986, shuttle was torn apart, it parts blew into flames and fell off into waters.

Killing all of its crew members. And all this happened just after 73 second after its flight. The accident changed the space program forever. What were the ethical issues behind the disaster of challenger, I will examine all these points here.

Challenger was on its 10th mission in space this space shuttle of NASA’S was great shuttle that time setting numerous records. The mission experience trouble at the outset, as the launch was postponed for several days. On the night before the final launch day, central Florida was swept by severe cold wave that deposited thick ice on the launch pad. Some engineers warned higher officials regarding this and that this might be a problem, but the waning went unheeded. All appeared to be normal on the morning of launch, when thousands of people on the ground, including the families of Astronauts. Witnessed an explosion just 73 second after liftoff, at an altitude of 14000 meters (46000 feet).

But why did this explosion happened.
Basic composition of Any Space shuttle

Any space shuttle consist of three major components: First, the orbiter which houses the crew; Then we have external tank that holds fuel for the main engines, and two solids rocket boosters. Which provide most of the shuttle’s lift during the 1st two minutes of flight. This happen because the space shuttle’s external fuel tank collapsed, releasing all its liquid hydrogen and oxygen propellants. As the chemical mixed. The ignited to create a giant fireball thousands of feet in the air and thus the heated tank broke off the shuttle, and consequently all others parts also broke off.

What went wrong

Shortly after this disaster, president Ronald Reagon appointed a special commission to see what actually wrong with the challenger. This commission was headed by former secretary of state William Rogers the commission also included the famous Astronauts Neil Armstrong and famous Scientist Richard -Feynman

Their investigation Revealed that it was a cold morning on the day of challenger’s launch.

Temperature was must below freezing point. And some parts making the shuttle specially the O-RING cannot function properly. To make things worse NASA had no prior experience of launching a shuttle at such a cold temperature.

The O-RINGS used in challenger’ Rocket boaster their man function was to seal the joints so tightly. They would prevent violently hot gases from escaping and mixing of two different gases because mixing of oxygen and hot hydrogen is very danger.

O-RING become brittle in the cold temperature, and failed at doing its function its mean O-RING stop his work and could not expend to stop the leakage of different gases, Engineers provide two O-RING but due winter both stop his work.

Because of this the two gases got mixed, fire started causes the spacecraft to explode and disintegrate, mean the engineers put two O-RINGS one primary and the other secondary.

So now at low temperature the O-RINGS lost its flexibility failing to expand and prevent the leakage. Scientist Richard Feynman, demonstrated the O-RING flaw to the public using a simple glass of ice water. The O- RING were never tested in extreme cold in the first place. Some Thiokol and NASA engineers did raise the problem in morning before launching time, which went unheard.

Some higher officials of NASA’S and Thiokol both new the problem but they did nothing and did not take any action. As Richard Feynman concluded at the end of this commission that challenger was Man-made disaster which did not have to happen.

The NASA’S and Thiokol engineers thinking that “nothing has happened so nothing will happen”

This thinking took the life of seven crew members.

For 12 years NASA cancel all his missions and solve problem of O-RING successfully.


  • The 1st ethical issue came due the design engineers the engineers must have to test the designed shuttle.
  • There was no effective communication of Engineers team with NASA if they both communicated properly then the challenger disaster will never come.
  • Wrong schedule the weather was so cold they must have to change the schedule because it was the matter of seven Crew’s life.
  • The NASA engineers did not stress the severity of problem created by cold weather because the O-RING never tested at low temperature before the launch at actual day, the NASA thinking let’s see what happened the NASA team created a worst sorry instead of better safety
  • Ignorance of known design fault.

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