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York University
Administrative Studies
ADMS 2610
Rebecca Jubis

Descriptive of the project The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, causing the death of its seven crew members. This was one of the biggest disasters in American’s history. Originally the launch was scheduled on Jan 22, 1986 at 2:42 pm, but the bad weather caused some technician problem delayed launch time. Finally the challenger was launched on Jan 28 at 11:38. On that day, the temperatures was close to 31 °F (−1 °C) -- the minimum temperature allowed for launch (The Challenger Accident, n.d.). Under the low temperature, there were some inconsistent situations, there were several engineers concerned about the effect of the temperature on the resilience of the rubber O-ring that sealed the joints of the SRBs (solid rocket booster) (The Challenger Accident, n.d.). Thiokol management tried to show the unsafe conditions to NASA mangers, but finally, they failed. NASA manager later on proved the launch condition was safe rather than not safe; they maintained the launch manifest schedule. After the Challenger was launched, “at 11:38, O-ring failed caused the boosters fired which helped to lift mission 51-L off the pad” (The Challenger Disaster, n.d.). At 11:39, the aft field joint on the right motor failed and destroyed Challenger (The Challenger Disaster, n.d.), and all the crew members had no escape system made them all died. The Rogers Commission found that NASA’s weak organizational culture and poor decision-making processes were the key factor to the disaster. All the project members failed to communicate well through the steps to the project; the bad news was often not passed rather than the good news. Lessons learned There are some bad and good examples that lead to the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster. The environmental factors such as political, commercial, military, international and technical communities put pressure onto the space shuttle management team. In the aspect of political issue, it gave pressure regarding to a dependable, reusable space shuttle with speedy turn around time that affected the capability of the effective system integration. Moreover, it was impossible to build management support systems (MSS) that coordinated all the environmental variables. The NASA employees were uncertain about the operation through the space shuttle mission and had low moral because the Reagan Administration wanted the Space Shuttle Challenger “to be declared operational before the developmental stage had been completed,” (Forrest, 2005) which reduced NASA employees’ motivation to manage and gave an impression to them that the political sources directed to the decision making. In addition, the reason why the Space Shuttle Challenger lead to failure because there was no official Decision Support System (DSS) program for the shuttle to operate. The DSS only focused on “satisfying and conscious muddling though.” (Forrest, 2005) The disaster of the Space Shuttle Challenger also involved in the organization ethics issue. The Morton Thiokol engineers are accountable for construction of the solid rocket booster, they realized the O-ring can cause an explosion and were against the launching of the Space Shuttle Challenger. However, the mangement of the Challenger did not pay serious attention on it. Moreoever, the top NASA decision makers had no knowledge about the launching of the Space Shuttle Challenger on Janauary 27 (the day before the launching) and they told to the Rogers Commission. This create an “intense controvery within Thiokol and between Thiokol and the Marshall Space Flight Center.” (The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster: A Study in Organizational Ethics, n.d.) Another issue that cause this tragedy could be the constraint of waiver of launch regarding to the flight safety expense. It is because “there was no system which made it imperative
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