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Roger Boisjoly dies at 73; engineer tried to halt Challenger launch
Los Angeles Times ^ | February 7, 2012 | Ralph Vartabedian

Posted on 02/07/2012 1:43:28 PM PST by EveningStar

The night before the 1986 explosion, Boisjoly and four others argued that joints in the shuttle's boosters couldn't withstand a cold-weather launch.

(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...


TOPICS: Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 1986; aerospace; boisjoly; challenger; duplicate; nasa; obituary; rogerboisjoly; shuttle; shuttlechallenger; space; spaceexploration; spaceshuttle
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1 posted on 02/07/2012 1:43:33 PM PST by EveningStar
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To: 04-Bravo; 1FASTGLOCK45; 1stFreedom; 2ndDivisionVet; 60Gunner; 6AL-4V; A.A. Cunningham; ...
Aviation and Aerospace ping

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2 posted on 02/07/2012 1:45:28 PM PST by EveningStar
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To: EveningStar

RIP, sir.
At least you tried...................


3 posted on 02/07/2012 1:49:30 PM PST by Red Badger (If you are unemployed long enough, you are no longer unemployed.)
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To: Red Badger

Roger (and Amen) that, Red Badger.


4 posted on 02/07/2012 2:02:58 PM PST by Apple Pan Dowdy (... as American as Apple Pie mmm mmm mmm)
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To: EveningStar
The night of the accident I was listening to Larry King on the radio and they were discussing what had happened. A caller from Utah got on and said “I know what happened. The weather, the weather, the weather.” King hung up on him and made some crack about the institution letting that guy make one phone call a week. I knew at the time that Morton Thiokol was based in Utah, and I wondered if it was some engineer that knew what was going on. Wonder if it was this guy...
5 posted on 02/07/2012 2:05:49 PM PST by stormer
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To: EveningStar

That middle pic was taken when Boeing’s chief test pilot did an aileron roll in one of the original 707 test birds, I believe.

Being a Boeing machine, the maneuver probably didn’t even come close to the plane’s limits.

Neat! However, the good old T-38 could do two rolls/second with full sidestick deflection.

Now, THAT was a kick!


6 posted on 02/07/2012 2:07:53 PM PST by Da Coyote
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To: EveningStar

Maaan, I remember that clear as day as if it happened last week. I was working at JFK airport in New York city at the time and there was a blizzard going on, and Fedex (or Federal express as it was known at the time) had crashed one of their planes into a loader-lifter while the plane was being marshalled in. The visibility was zero and the left wing got ripped off. And as that was being investigated, we had the TV on in the office and all you saw was that video of the smoke and the pieces of the shuttle flying off into the sky. And one of my co-workers said: “And Fedex thinks they got problems”. Not a day to be flying.


7 posted on 02/07/2012 2:08:20 PM PST by GrandJediMasterYoda (How ironic that Ann Coulter should write a book called Treason.)
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To: EveningStar

Yep they knew it was too cold, outside design temps, and had blow-by problems. Such a shame. They tried.


8 posted on 02/07/2012 2:08:20 PM PST by F15Eagle (1 John 5:4-5, 4:15, 5:13; John 3:17-18, 6:69, 11:25, 14:6, 20:31; Rom10:8-11; 1 Tim 2:5; Titus 3:4-5)
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To: All
NYT article: Roger Boisjoly, 73, Dies; Warned of Shuttle Danger

Wikipedia article

9 posted on 02/07/2012 2:09:08 PM PST by EveningStar
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To: EveningStar
Their pleas and technical theories were rejected by senior managers at the company and NASA, who told them they had failed to prove their case and that the shuttle would be launched in freezing temperatures the next morning. It was among the great engineering miscalculations in history.

I disagree. It was one of the great management screw ups of all time.

According to the article, management persisted in ruining the career of Boisjoly and at least one of the other engineers.

10 posted on 02/07/2012 2:09:29 PM PST by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: EveningStar

I can only imagine what torture he went through watching the Challenger explode.

I know very well what happens when you try to present unpleasant facts to managers, and what happens when they refuse to listen to you and take political expedience over sound engineering judgement.

It my case, it wasn’t a matter of life and death or billions of dollars, but the failure I warned about was just as real, and it came to pass just as I predicted.

Rest in peace, Mr. Boisjoly.


11 posted on 02/07/2012 2:10:05 PM PST by Fresh Wind ('People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.' Richard M. Nixon)
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To: EveningStar

In “Visual Explanations” http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_visex Edward Tufte wrote a must-read analysis of why admonitions to postpone the launch were ignored.


12 posted on 02/07/2012 2:13:20 PM PST by ctdonath2 ($1 meals: http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com/)
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To: stormer

Sounds like something that dingdong King would do. When you watch the slow-mos of the liftoff, there is a significant blow-by of the ring. Their fate was sealed once the solids were lit. Too early for BSM’s to fire and then separate vehicle from the tank (I think).


13 posted on 02/07/2012 2:19:28 PM PST by F15Eagle (1 John 5:4-5, 4:15, 5:13; John 3:17-18, 6:69, 11:25, 14:6, 20:31; Rom10:8-11; 1 Tim 2:5; Titus 3:4-5)
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To: Fresh Wind

Like the Intel Officer in the British army who tried to tell them the Germans were in force around Arnham but the brits still went on with Operation Market Garden. Monty wanted the headlines and ended up destroying the Britsh Paras.
He ended up having a nervious breakdown....


14 posted on 02/07/2012 2:21:51 PM PST by Yorlik803 (better to die on your feet than live on your knees.)
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To: Fresh Wind
I know very well what happens when you try to present unpleasant facts to managers, and what happens when they refuse to listen to you and take political expedience over sound engineering judgement

Non-engineering types are convinced that one can somehow lean on physical matter and get it to behave a certain way the same as they bully people into behaving a certain way. People may be manipulated. Physical material is another matter. They'll never learn.
15 posted on 02/07/2012 2:22:55 PM PST by Nepeta
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To: Fresh Wind
political expedience over sound engineering judgement.

I'm convinced NASA wanted the Shuttle in orbit it time for the State Of The Union address that afternoon.

16 posted on 02/07/2012 2:23:56 PM PST by null and void (Day 1114 of America's ObamaVacation from reality [Heroes aren't made, Frank, they're cornered...])
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To: Moonman62

Agreed - idiots in management


17 posted on 02/07/2012 2:24:45 PM PST by F15Eagle (1 John 5:4-5, 4:15, 5:13; John 3:17-18, 6:69, 11:25, 14:6, 20:31; Rom10:8-11; 1 Tim 2:5; Titus 3:4-5)
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To: EveningStar

Even more now in every agency in every company “managers” decide things they know nothing about. Total arrogance.


18 posted on 02/07/2012 2:29:14 PM PST by CodeToad (NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!!!)
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To: EveningStar

I will never forget...they launched below 32 degrees with the school teacher on board so they could be up in space as reagan gave the state of union address that evening.


19 posted on 02/07/2012 2:30:28 PM PST by biggredd1
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To: Fresh Wind

I know very well what happens when you try to present unpleasant facts to managers, and what happens when they refuse to listen to you and take political expedience over sound engineering judgement.

I just left a company for that very reason. I don’t intend to spend the next few years attempting to salvage a doomed project based on bad assumptions by management. It’s always scary when a lack of knowledge is replaced by the mystical yes man’s assurance of success.


20 posted on 02/07/2012 2:31:26 PM PST by Waverunner (I'd like to welcome our new overlords, say hello to my little friend)
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To: EveningStar

Challenger: The Untold Story
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaZzRmpa1iA

Seconds From Disaster - The Challenger Explosion
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1kfk3STHyg

Ethics In Business - The Challenger Disaster Case Study
by Roger Boisjoly
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On9p0Q9eKr4

Roger Boisjoly RIP
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnX_7QxB3R0


21 posted on 02/07/2012 2:32:24 PM PST by Jack Hydrazine (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!)
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To: EveningStar

Thanks for the ping, sad to lose such a fine man. NASA should be ashamed, both accidents were easily preventable.


22 posted on 02/07/2012 2:37:04 PM PST by jpsb
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To: Fresh Wind
I laid out the plan to save the Postal Service in the Twenty First Century to (then Deputy) Postmaster General William F. Bolger back in 1976(?).

He punted.

It crashed as predicted in 2011.

Roger was one of my heroes.

23 posted on 02/07/2012 2:38:03 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: CodeToad

It’s not the fault of the managers or the employees. It’s the fault of the managerial system ~ it has failed, utterly so!


24 posted on 02/07/2012 2:41:06 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah

Systems do not exist. People do. People are responsible for their actions.


25 posted on 02/07/2012 2:45:04 PM PST by CodeToad (NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!!!)
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To: Fresh Wind
"I know very well what happens when you try to present unpleasant facts to managers

Me too, I got fired but I was right and I started the company that fired me! Well late company would be more correct since they went belly up a couple of years later. Not life and death thank goodness. G*d bless the whistle blowers.

26 posted on 02/07/2012 2:45:04 PM PST by jpsb
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To: stormer
King hung up on him and made some crack about the institution letting that guy make one phone call a week.

Yes, I remember his standard put down: "Rest well, sir."

27 posted on 02/07/2012 2:49:34 PM PST by giotto
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To: Fresh Wind
I was working at NASA, JSC when Challenger died. To this day I still can not watch it. The little company I worked for Barrios Tech had the wives of two of Challenger crew working for them. I will never forget that day and how terrible it was for all of us.

Reagan was a wonderful president, his speech at NASA JSC really helped weal the wound.

28 posted on 02/07/2012 2:51:35 PM PST by jpsb
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To: jpsb

ooops heal not weal


29 posted on 02/07/2012 2:54:53 PM PST by jpsb
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To: muawiyah

But I bet the most of the managers in NASA and Morton Thiokol who voted, “go for launch” were promoted later.


30 posted on 02/07/2012 3:00:49 PM PST by Jack Hydrazine (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

IIRC, they were. The whistle-blowers like this fellow were trashed.


31 posted on 02/07/2012 3:03:22 PM PST by Cyber Liberty ("If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." --Winston Churchill)
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To: F15Eagle

Feynman also blamed management.


32 posted on 02/07/2012 3:04:51 PM PST by BIV (typical white person)
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To: Nepeta
Non-engineering types are convinced that one can somehow lean on physical matter and get it to behave a certain way the same as they bully people into behaving a certain way. People may be manipulated. Physical material is another matter. They'll never learn.

Sound like Obama and the Volt...

Ditto that the study of economics and how the the non-logical non engineering types will give that horses ass and his theory Lord Maynard Keynes another college try vs. the Smith, Austrian, Hayek, Laffer and Milton F theories a whirl which we know will work.

33 posted on 02/07/2012 3:20:34 PM PST by taildragger (( Palin / Mulally 2012 ))
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To: Yorlik803

Monty wanted to be aggressive like Patton. He had the motivation, but not one tenth the talent.


34 posted on 02/07/2012 3:22:55 PM PST by Vaquero
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To: BIV
Feynman also blamed management.

Other organizations either paying, or about to pay a huge price. Likely that the persons most responsible will walk:

Carnival Cruise lines

Penn State University

Catholic Church

Tokyo Electric

LA Unified Schools

35 posted on 02/07/2012 3:23:02 PM PST by cicero2k
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To: EveningStar

RIP Roger, one of the good guys. If my memory is correct, he did Congressional hearings, on the subject on TV.


36 posted on 02/07/2012 3:26:22 PM PST by taildragger (( Palin / Mulally 2012 ))
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To: Da Coyote
I counted four pictures..

What "middle" picture do you mean?

37 posted on 02/07/2012 3:36:12 PM PST by Osage Orange (A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.)
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To: EveningStar

This guy was a case study in one of my grad courses on management. RIP, you tried, management sucked.


38 posted on 02/07/2012 3:40:48 PM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: null and void
I'm convinced NASA wanted the Shuttle in orbit it time for the State Of The Union address that afternoon.

I remember the circumstances well. It was a classic case of media pressure and management arrogance resulting in disaster. There had been delay after delay with that launch and the media almost demanded that this one not be scrubbed.

I watched on TV while the ground crew chipped icicles from the Shuttle's scaffolding and told my wife there were too many unknowns in launching with temperatures that low. But the media kept up an insistent, almost threatening drumbeat, and both Thiokol and NASA management caved.

It was almost like watching the slow unfolding of a Greek tragedy by Euripides or Sophocles. I still get a queasy stomach when I think about it. The Greeks had a word for what caused NASA's tragedy: hubris.

39 posted on 02/07/2012 3:40:59 PM PST by Bernard Marx
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To: EveningStar

RIP.


40 posted on 02/07/2012 3:56:52 PM PST by fieldmarshaldj
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To: Da Coyote
That middle pic was taken when Boeing’s chief test pilot did an aileron roll in one of the original 707 test birds, I believe.

Being a Boeing machine, the maneuver probably didn’t even come close to the plane’s limits.

Not a flame, just a a minor correction.

Technically, he did a barrel roll, which is a 1-G maneuver. By definition, an aileron roll requires negative Gs, which is prohibited in all airliners, even Boeings.

41 posted on 02/07/2012 4:01:11 PM PST by Ol' Dan Tucker (People should not be afraid of the government. Government should be afraid of the people)
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To: null and void

It was ordered to fly from the very top imo. If you recall CBS was mocking the prior launch attempts in their newscasts and how all the kids watching from their schools kept being let down.


42 posted on 02/07/2012 4:08:21 PM PST by Justa
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To: Waverunner
My son is going through this very experience right now after reporting to management that their insistence that some unsuitable compressors that they just happened to have sitting around be used on a project would result in an unacceptable performance, eventualy total failure and the OEM would dead stop not warrant or support the equipment if used in this way.

So they found a Ukrainian engineer who said it would work brilliantly and his contract which expires March 1st isn't being renewed.

43 posted on 02/07/2012 4:57:17 PM PST by WalterSobchak2012
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To: Waverunner
My son is going through this very experience right now after reporting to management that their insistence that some unsuitable compressors that they just happened to have sitting around be used on a project would result in unacceptable performance, eventualy total failure and the OEM would dead stop not warrant or support the equipment if used in this way.

So they found a Ukrainian engineer who said it would work brilliantly and his contract which expires March 1st isn't being renewed.

44 posted on 02/07/2012 4:58:08 PM PST by WalterSobchak2012
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To: Bernard Marx
It was a classic case of media pressure and management arrogance resulting in disaster.

Another similar incident happened 100 years ago - the maiden voyage of The Titanic.

The technology gets better, but there are still limits that must be respected.


45 posted on 02/07/2012 5:52:22 PM PST by canuck_conservative
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To: jpsb

I’ll never forget that day. I had just left work to get lunch, and was in my car just as the launch was on the local news station. I was always nervous about those launches, but that time I had a particular sense of dread. Don’t know why.

When it became obvious that there was a major problem, I went home to watch it on TV. Eventually I went back to work, but everybody was in a state of shock, and nothing got done the rest of the day.

Yes, Reagan was great on that occasion.


46 posted on 02/07/2012 5:54:31 PM PST by Fresh Wind ('People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.' Richard M. Nixon)
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To: Yorlik803
He ended up having a nervous breakdown

When would that be?

47 posted on 02/07/2012 5:56:07 PM PST by Churchillspirit
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To: null and void
I'm convinced NASA wanted the Shuttle in orbit it time for the State Of The Union address that afternoon.

That's exactly right.

48 posted on 02/07/2012 6:01:18 PM PST by BerryDingle (I know how to deal with communists, I still wear their scars on my back from Hollywood-Ronald Reagan)
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To: EveningStar
I read the book, Challenger, a Major Malfunction.

In it, they did their best to insinuate that Reagan was the reason they had to launch that day as he was giving an address.

I called B.S. then and now. What kind of engineer/manager lets the suits make the call when lives are in danger and it's the engineer/manager's call.

The Air force did a study that showed for solid fuel rockets, there is a 1 in 25 chance of a burn through, not exactly a high margin of safety, I hope it has been improved.

To throw in a little politics:

Aerojet had a one piece design that would have been built in Florida and barged up to the Cape. I no longer have the book but again, there were insinuations that politics meant that Morton Thiokol won the bid and their booster was made in segments in Utah and moved to the Cape by rail.

Even my untrained eye can see the problem with the original joints. The new ones had a third o ring but more importantly, the joint slid into a slot that was designed to allow the joint to expand but not let the hot gasses through.

Original design:

This is the new design:

The 'capture' feature of the new design is supposed to help when the SRB cases expand when they're lit.

I'll never forget that day and the fact that some lived all the way to the sea is disturbing. Seeing Challenger explode is like watching the second plane go into the WTC. It's hard to believe that you just saw several lives ended. I try to avoid watching either.

49 posted on 02/07/2012 6:17:38 PM PST by Lx (Do you like it, do you like it. Scott? I call it Mr. and Mrs. Tennerman chili.)
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To: EveningStar

Long ago I went to an Edward Tufte seminar on presentation graphics design.....IIRC he said that the data was clear that the launch should be stopped, but that the Thiokol engineers failed to present it in such a way as to persuade management. Even with the technology available back then (no Powerpoint) the story could have been presented such that they HAD to cancel. With better graphics, lives might have been saved...........


50 posted on 02/07/2012 6:22:00 PM PST by Some Fat Guy in L.A. (Go Steelers (what's the baseball team called again?))
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