FEYNMAN AND THE CHALLENGER EXPLOSION
Arthur E. Sowers
arthures at access5.digex.net
Fri Feb 2 02:51:16 EST 1996
On 29 Jan 1996, Scott Zasadil wrote:
> "Arthur E. Sowers" <arthures at access5.digex.net> wrote:
> >Although it was a high profile techno-disaster, I would maintain that in
> >terms of the propensity of human beings to do things that turn out bad
> >instead of good that they should have been able to predict and avoid, the
> >Challenger disaster was a drop in the bucket compared to many other
> >"comparable" disasters.
> Several examples given.
> >5. The use of pure oxygen atmospheres in the early 3-man space
> > capsules (I don't remember the names & dates etc, but 3 guys were
> > burned to a crisp in about 2-3 secs and there was a committee report
> > recommending against the pure oxygen for safety reasons).
> Apollo 1: Grissom, White, and Chaffee. I believe it was on January 25, 1966
> - almost ten years exactly prior to the challenger explosion. BTW their
> spacesuits protected them from a lot of the fire. Their official cause of
> death was listed as suffocation from the toxic fumes.
Thanks for the extra details. I was never good for a memory ... thats why
I didn't go into history. Cant remember names and dates.
I wanted to make a minor correction on a sentence I wrote. As I
recall, the responsible committee made the recomendation against the pure
oxygen atmosphere BEFORE they made a decision to go with that atmosphere.
There were some complex rationalizations, but it did get coverage in an
issue of our journal _Science_, which I have been reading continuously
for over 30 years now. I have the feeling that safety considerations, as
parts of various projects, are happily starting to be get at least a teeny
bit more respect these days than they did when I was much younger. This
"awareness" is good. I find it infuriating that after, not before, something
bad happens, then people can find out why they shouldn't have done some
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