January 27, 2006
Challenger Space Shuttle
accident. I have to admit to being horribly fascinated by this tragedy. Twenty years ago tomorrow...
11 years ago
Oberg! I hate him with the white-hot fury of a thousand boiling suns.
Tell us how you really feel!
I guess I was one of very few people with CNN back then. I had a flu/cold and was staying home from school. And it sure looked like an explosion to me.
Yeah, I watched it too (although not live of course, it was a few minutes after the event) and it certainly looked like an explosion to me, as well. No boom? Well of course not, the sound took a few seconds to reach the ground. Oberg's a fucking idiot. Just because the crew cabin didn't disintigrate he says it wasn't an explosion. Oberg, you dolt, look at the pictures, it was a fucking explosion! Moron. Did I mention I loathe Oberg? He's the NASA equivalent of Tom Friedman.
By some freak occurance, I saw the whole thing live on CNN also. The article is written in a confusing way. It begins with the title "It didn't explode, the crew didn't die instantly and it wasn't inevitable" and by listing as one of the myths:
The flight, and the astronauts’ lives, did not end at that point, 73 seconds after launch.
and then (on Page 2) comes:
Myth #3: The crew died instantly
(they did not, though they may have been unconscious when they hit the ocean's surface -which would have been like hitting a wall at that speed.) So evidence would seem to indicate that the crew
die instantly. And, thanks to the inclusion of a teacher on the shuttle flight, CNN was being shown in countless classrooms across the country, traumatizing thousands and thousands of kids (to various degrees).
Jesus, you people made me log in to MonkeyFilter just so I could tell you to
learn to fucking read
. For the "but I saw an explosion!" crowd:
did not explode in the common definition of that word. There was no shock wave, no detonation, no "bang" — viewers on the ground just heard the roar of the engines stop as the shuttle’s
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.) But both solid-fuel strap-on boosters climbed up out of the cloud, still firing and unharmed by any explosion. Challenger itself was torn apart as it was flung free of the other rocket components and turned broadside into the Mach 2 airstream.
Individual propellant tanks
were seen exploding — but by then, the spacecraft was already in pieces.
Emphasis added to help those for whom the entire paragraph is too long and complicated. If there are any further questions, I'll try to help. mecurious:
The flight, and the astronauts’ lives, did not end at that point, 73 seconds after launch.
one of the "myths," it's from the section where he's explaining how we'd remember it if we got rid of the myths. And he talks about the classroom showings. Jesus.
Sooo... twenty years on -- is it allright to share some of my vast collection of Challenger jokes?
I think so. *opens note book*
OK, here's one: How do they know Christa McAuliffe had Swimmer's Hair? Because they found her Head and Shoulders on the beach!
How many astronauts can you fit in a Volkswagen? Two in the front, two in the back, and seven in the ashtray!
Did you hear that NASA will send up another teacher on the next shuttle flight? She's going to be a substitute.
Did you know that Christa McAuliffe was blue-eyed? One blew left, and one blew right!
Damn tags. Allright, someone else's turn...
*sprays anti-curmudgeon compound* jeebus.
The only one I know is:
What does NASA stand for?
And the answer is so obvious I will not give it here.
This must be the most poorly written article I've ever read. Oberg invents myths (I'd never heard them before) in the introduction, then goes on to debunk his own myths!!! The "shuttle didn't explode" issue is just semantic nit-picking. Yeah, technically the orbiter vehicle didn't explode, but the giant fuel tank it was strapped to did. I'd never heard of Oberg before, but I'm with Chyren. Total hack.
What's wrong with Oberg? I only know him from his stuff on the web I've found about Russian space disasters, like the
. He seems like a knowlegeable guy.
Nixon Assaulted Sinatra's Asshole?
I didn't see it live. But I was in 6th grade and had just gotten done eating lunch and a friend told me that it exploded and I didn't beleive him. So I went into the library and they had taped the launch and the principal kept playing it and rewinding it over and over.
I did see it live, on the special feed for schools. The teacher who was in second place to McAuliffe taught at the local high school, so my whole town was wild with excitement about the launch. I was in the 3rd grade, sitting in the classroom of a teacher I hated (and who hated me -- she told me so), and it was so strange to sit there and cry together after they died. Everyone was so traumatised that they actually cancelled school for the rest of the day.
man, I remember watching it on TV (and at that moment deciding that while i had previously wanted to be an astronaut, i wasn't going to anymore, which is probably for the best as i'd never pass the vision tests). i was in kindergarten though. and i'll never know if we actually watched it or if i'm misremembering. and...um...it might not have *been* an explosion but it *looked* like an explosion. so if you're talking about studying the accident to see what went wrong, that's important, but if you're like "where were you when the challenger exploded?" it's really quite nitpicky...
I've always wondered why the only footage of this incident comes from the NASA cameras. Has anyone ever seen third-party footage of this?
"Jesus, you people made me log in to MonkeyFilter just so I could tell you to learn to fucking read."
YOU DIDN'T CLEAR ANYTHING UP AT ALL IN FACT YOU MISSED THE POINT ENTIRELY YOU PEDANTIC, ARROGANT ASSHOLE.
I will always associate the explosion with
by Philip Glass. My favorite radio station played that theme that night, while I, along with a lot of others in the NASA area, mourned the loss of the shuttle and crew.
I'm sensing some anger and frustration on your part, Chy -- am I right?
But yeah, fuel tank ruptured, massive fireball (i.e. explosion), some parts lasted longer than others, whatever. It was an explosion. That was the main event.
It’s silly, no? When a rocket ship explodes And everybody still wants 2 fly Some say a man ain’t happy Unless a man truly dies Prince -- Sign o' the Times (1987) If Princes said that it exploded, then it exploded. End of argument.
monkeyfilter is such a happy place on fridays
Another one home sick who watched the whole thing live on CNN. The worst part was shortly after the explosion when something -- dunno what -- came floating down under a parachute. Dunno the joke, but the punchline is "Christa McNuggets." Why does NASA drink Sprite? They can't get seven up.
Has anyone ever seen third-party footage of this?
Yes. I've seen footage shot from a rooftop in (IIRC) Jacksonville / St. Augustine. Still horrifying.
Prince is the final arbiter of so many things. He'd be so much better than Alito.
And Xeny -- small suggestion -- the joke is funnier if you turn 'Sprite' into 'Ocean Spray'. IMHO.
Mmm, I'm really enjoying this tasty, piping hot cup of coffee this morning! Anyone care for a cup? It's fair trade, and French Roast to boot, ground fresh this morning...
Has anyone ever seen third-party footage...?
There's some at the bottom of
Would it lower the tone further if I said I found Judy Resnik a bit of a looker? Cos I do (did).
Kitfisto, and perhaps others, might be interested in an article written by Dorothy Winsor, who is an expert on communication within organizations. I think she would agree that the disaster could have been avoided, but that there were many factors that worked against that happening. The abstract: Examination of the public documents available on the Challenger explosion shows that a history of miscommunication contributed to the accident. This miscommunication was caused by several factors, including managers and engineers interpreting data from different perspectives and the difficulty of believing and then sending bad news, especially to superiors or outsiders. An understanding of the dynamics at work in the Challenger case can help engineers and engineering managers elsewhere reduce miscommunication in their own companies. The full text (html):
The full text (pdf):
Pleggy - that's the Columbia...
He's right about most things in the article, but gets a main point of numer one completely wrong. The roar of the engines did not "just stop" when it exploded. By the time the Challenger exploded, the noise of liftoff had already faded to a background rumble. No one noticed any engines 'just stopping.' You also didn't hear the fireball. I know. I was there, watching from my high school on the edge of Indian River directly across from the launch pads. I'd be more inclined to read him closely if he got that first bit right.
Deconstructo - there was a good TV show on UK TV not that long ago dealing with similar issues - the knowledge of (potential) faults and how they were dealt with / ignored. Most interesting...
Myths one through three are nothing more than a journalist trying to pad out his article. Who cares if it exploded "according to common definitions of the word" or not? Or whether people saw live footage or taped footage three minutes later? Doesn't make any difference at all. Myths four through six are interesting, because they reveal the same social biases that come up in any urban legend, the need to "make sense" of a tragedy, to wrap it up in a neat little "this happened because of this, therefore we shouldn't do that any more" package that reinforces previously existing assumptions (see any number of "God sent Katrina because" statements made over the past six months). And "Myth #7" is just editorializing.
What was the last thing to go through Christa McAuliffe's mind? A piece of the heat shield.
Koko! I'm shocked! I thought you were a nice girl.
I am! I wasn't joking, a piece of the heat shield probably did go through her head. It's really very tragic.
I've never heard of most of these "myths" -- I smell a mediocre writer trying to drum up credibility by debunking myths of his own invention. And saying the
didn't explode is splitting hairs. That's like saying, "The suicide bomber didn't explode, his
did, so you better not talk about suicide bombers blowing themselves up, when in fact the suicide bombers' vest is doing all the up-blowing." Please. As for my story, I spent 20 minutes trying to convince my 6th grade teacher to let us tune in to the launch broadcast and by the time I did, we turned on the TV literally seconds after it happened. I knew immediately something was horribly wrong (being the only space-nerd in the class), and since the teacher turned on the TV with the volume all the way down, the class didn't believe me until it was turned up and they could hear for themselves. It was a very weird day.
Oh. Right. That's OK then. *re-sends planning application for the koko shrine*
I was on a field trip with my 11th grade English class to see
at a tiny theater in Boston when the Challenger "exploded". The bus driver told us about it as we were getting back on the bus, and we didn't believe him at first.
Bus drivers NEVER lie. If they say it's £1.50 to town, it's goddam £1.50 to town.
Sorry, sir. This property isn't zoned for shrines. If you want to build a mini mart, though, we can talk turkey.
NASA stands for Need Another Seven Astronauts And why do NASA staff drink pepsi? because they couldnt get seven up.
Sorry, sir. This property isn't zoned for shrines.
Oh, nothing could be finer than to wake up with a shriner in the mo-o-o-o-orning!
Well, it didn't implode, and it didn't fall out of the sky in one piece. What's the alternative? Explosion. ANd for the record, my 12 year-old son could write a better article than the article writer.
I guess most successful suicide bombers implode.
What's the alternative?
Disintegration, which is a better description for what happened than "explosion".
"What was the last thing to go through Christa McAuliffe's mind? A piece of the heat shield."
That reminds me of that Michael Hutchence joke -- What was the last thing to go through Michael Hutchence's mind? "Gee, my belt's too tight." Which has nothing to do with the thread. Please, don't let me stop this debate about exploding/disintegrating/disintegrating and then exploding. It's fascinating.
Maybe the caps were a bit over the top, but it
seem to be a fair bit of arrogant pedantry. Or pedantic arrogance.
makes a convincing argument that the Morton Thiokol engineers, who recommended against the launch because of the cold weather, had the evidence to show that launching at that temperature was risky, but didn't visually present the information clearly enough to persuade NASA to postpone the launch. Tufte's
of the information shows a clear correlation between cold temperatures and O-ring problems, and that the launch temperatures expected for the morning of the launch were so much lower than the lowest previous launch temperatures that the launch would be too risky.
of the mission.
from Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident describing why and how the shuttle exploded.
(Self-plagiarized from my comments in
this MetaFilter thread
on the 17-year anniversary of the
One interesting opinion: It was a
bad overhead chart
that doomed the Challenger. Edward Tufte's books are cool, beautiful and highly recommended.
*shakes fist at kirkaracha*
To cover up my crass mistake, i present instead: Edward Tufte's
redesign of the Pioneer Space Plaque!
What was the last thing Christa McAuliffe said to her husband? "You feed the dog. I'll feed the fish."
> In his book Visual Explanations, Edward Tufte makes a convincing argument that... much as i respect his work, tufte should stfu on this topic. it's tantamount to finger-pointing.
more clearly (as i can show you in my book), this whole disaster could've been averted
Dear Mr. hat, I was glad to see you comment here for the first time in months, even it it took getting you pissed off to get you to break your silence. All I can say in our defence is that the disintegration looked like an explosion - and that I seem to recall thinking that the tapes we viewed back then must not have had sound. It seemed that that much violence must have been accompanied by a lot of noise. On the other hand, I'm not sure that it's all that important which descripion applies to the event. It's the results that were key - the craft went apart somehow and people were killed. In fact, my main quibble with the article is that several of the listed myths are really unimportant or addressed speculative ("unavoidable price for progress") or wished for ("the crew died instantly") attempts to deal with the event. So, yeah, debunking the myths about the physical causes for the tragedy may have some value, though I don't know how many people are going to remember O rings and temperatures in the long run, or how many internet denizens are still discussing whether booster flaws contributed or whether sealant changes fostered by evil government agencies were a factor, but if any are, they're lost in a time warp, IMO. I guess my take on this is that the event has entered the category of legend, and that the forces for truth and accuracy will go down to defeat. Certain acolytes of the scientific method will continue to point out the flaws in common opinion, but legends are powerful things. And, certainly, none of us really wants to think about 7 people being aware of their descent and feeling the pain of the crash. The rest of the discussion is a murmer in my mind with that realization taking precedence.
Seven up? Dash of Teacher's?
When I was 11, my family visited Washington D.C. on vacation. On our trip through the Capitol, the tour guide showed us the various small paintings made throughout the building as monuments or memorials to important or tragic events in US history. One was the memorial painting to the Challenger crew, which the tour guide pronounced "ugly and depressing" and said that the powers that be were going to paint over once people had forgotten about it, already. My dad, who's a big astronaut wanna-be like me and who also noticed my anger, gently gave the woman what-for and made her feel embarrassed. Go dad, go.
... and go path, go, too!
That's it, from now on I'm starting all of my emails and letters with the salutation "Dear Mr. Hat,".
Jesus, you people made me log in to MonkeyFilter just so I could tell you to learn to fucking read.
Whew, at least he mentioned MonkeyFilter in that sentence. I was worried from that comment he thought he was addressing MetaFilter! Chy--glad to see you are your usual cheery and cordial self. Without your reasoned and polite input, this wouldn't be near the Happy Place we all have grown to love. However, may I pre-empt you on your response? *fuck you* Have a nice day!
Sorry for the slight derail, but over at metafilter, user eriko posted a
very thorough comment
about the constraints under which the shuttle program was developed that hamstring a very large portion of NASA hamstrung to this day.
*...that keep a very large portion of NASA hamstrung to this day
You fucked that up. I feel yopr pain.
I did that on purpose
It's just as whale.
I know a Klinghofer joke. And one about Polish land mine detectors that must be acted out by stomping on the ground.
Roay's Lethal Tasks 1.Polish land mines
roryk, I respectfully disagree on Tufte and S'ingTFU. Winsor's analysis covers much of the same ground, and while Bush & Brownie have inculcated a culture of "not playing the blame game," in cases of analysis, it is instructive to learn from the mistakes so that the chance of repeating the error is lessened. Tufte's analysis and Winsor's are quite useful in teaching ethics to professional writers and communicators, especially when considering the presentation of information and the stasis of organizations when presented with information that runs counter to entrenched political (small p political) wisdom. In my opinion, it is important for Tufte to NOT STFU.
I don't know if kirkaracha's paraphrasing of Tufte's conclusion was accurate, but the conclusion wasn't quite right. Morton Thiokol's
knew the risks of launching in cold weather, and said so. Morton Thiokol's
managers & executives
chose not to pass that information to NASA, for fear of losing future contracts.