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NASA Science

Robert Boisjoly Dies At 73, the Engineer Who Tried To Stop the Challenger Launch 380

Posted by Soulskill
from the rest-in-peace dept.
demachina writes "Robert Boisjoly has died at the age of 73. Boisjoly, Allan J. McDonald and three others argued through the night of 27 January, 1986 to stop the following day's Challenger launch, but Joseph Kilminster, their boss at Morton Thiokol, overruled them. NASA managers didn't listen to the engineers. Both Boisjoly and McDonald were blackballed for speaking out. NASA's mismanagement 'is not going to stop until somebody gets sent to hard rock hotel,' Boisjoly said after the 2003 Columbia disaster. 'I don't care how many commissions you have. These guys have a way of numbing their brains. They have destroyed $5 billion worth of hardware and 14 lives because of their nonsense.'"
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Robert Boisjoly Dies At 73, the Engineer Who Tried To Stop the Challenger Launch

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  • In perspective (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:16AM (#38965543)

    They have destroyed $5 billion worth of hardware and 14 lives because of their nonsense.

    (This is going to be incredibly insensitive torwards those lives that were lost, but it has to be said.) 17 lives lost in the last 50 years of U.S. space exploration really is not too bad considering how many lives where lost during other times of exploration, pioneering eras and the building of industry. I think NASA tries to be perfect and after all they are rocket scientists, but to assume that NASA is the only place that has mismanagement is incredibly naive. Look at the rest of government. Look at the military. Look at the FDA for crying out loud. Am I saying that you should have deaths? No, what I'm saying is that you need to have a little perspective. Only 17 lives lost in 50 years means that you're at least doing something right to safeguard all the other lives that you saved through careful proceedure and cool heads.

  • Re:In perspective (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jcreus (2547928) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:21AM (#38965567)
    You deserve to be modded down. Every life lost, that could have been avoided, is a disaster (and not great even taking into account superpopulation, I suppose your family wouldn't like you to be dead, the 17 people's neither). And, clearly, the Challanger disaster could have been avoided as this guy proved. By the way, here's a quick link on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] about him.
  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elsurexiste (1758620) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:26AM (#38965611) Journal

    This is going to be incredibly insensitive torwards those lives that were lost...

    If you are so sure, maybe you shouldn't say it. Right?

    My 2: 17 may be a low number, but 3 is a much lower one, and you only needed to hear your engineers!

  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:28AM (#38965623) Homepage

    17 lives lost in the last 50 years of U.S. space exploration really is not too bad considering how many lives where lost during other times of exploration, pioneering eras and the building of industry.

    But when those losses could have been prevented had the people with authority not ignored those with operational knowledge then it really is unacceptable. If someone gets struck by a micro-meteor out in space or dies because of a serious failure after weeks of operation then yeah, that kind of thing can be considered the price of pioneering; the kind of stuff you just can't practically account for. Dying in an explosion seconds after launch from a fault that was detectable and warned against prior to launch is not.

  • Re:In perspective (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:38AM (#38965703)

    you only needed to hear your engineers!

    you need information on the false positive rate for engineers' warnings before making such a statement.

  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Leebert (1694) * on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:41AM (#38965735)

    You deserve to be modded down.

    No, he doesn't. He deserves to have a logical and thoughtful refutation of his opinion posted in reply. I'm so sick of (-1, Disagree).

  • Re:In perspective (Score:3, Insightful)

    by samoanbiscuit (1273176) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:44AM (#38965761)
    Who the fuck mods this insightful? How about this for a little perspective: the countless explorers in those previous eras who gave their lives to the crucible of progress, were working with almost no data. Remember that old cliche about "Here Be Dragons"? Not so false in those days when cartography was more of an interpretive art than a useful field. When it comes to space exploration, and especially NASA's efforts, "rocket science" as we like to call it, the physical, mathematical and logistical knowledge from thousands of years of the scientific method and western (and other) civilizations were put to bear on the problem. Any deaths that could have been avoided, such as the Challenger fiasco this brave whistle blower tried to warn NASA about, are UNACCEPTABLE!
  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:45AM (#38965769)

    I actually agree that we are too cautious in our space explorations. We need to take more risks and spend more money.

    But in this case, they were told exactly what would fail, why, and how. And they argued late into the night, and Boisjoly was so sure that he refused to watch the launch. There was absolutely no doubt in 5 engineers' minds that this would happen.

    This was not an acceptable risk. It was easily avoidable. Not with 14 lives at stake. (The $5 billion ship might have been acceptable, though.)

  • by bigbangnet (1108411) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:46AM (#38965779)
    When an engineer says don't go with the launch. Sorry but just stfu and listen to him. FFS, he's not the idiot citizen who doesn't know squat. He's an engineer and 3 of them argued...wow. And the management still didn't listen. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. On top of that, I'm not an american and I'm very touched by this story, news and especially those lost lives. All of that could of been avoided and they would still learned from their mistake, corrected the problem and go forward with the launch later. My question is: what happened to the guy who still said let's go with the launch ? Did he get accused of murder ?
  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:48AM (#38965791)

    You deserve to be modded down.

    No, he doesn't. He deserves to have a logical and thoughtful refutation of his opinion posted in reply. I'm so sick of (-1, Disagree).

    One logical argument, coming right up: those deaths were entirely foreseeable and preventable. It's not like the deaths were a result of limitations of our knowledge, or an absolutely necessary sacrifice for the greater good of humanity. No, those deaths were because some idiotic bureaucrat couldn't be bothered to listen to qualified engineers. Far as I am concerned that guy should be 1) sued by the families for wrongful death and 2) tried for involuntary manslaughter.

    Apparently legal action is the only thing that makes thick-headed organization-type bureaucrats wake up and take notice, cf. the insanity coming out of the public schools. No amount of logic or expertise or forewarning seems to have any effect on them.

  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Leebert (1694) * on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:48AM (#38965801)

    And we've all learned something from that conversation, right? That's why we should be encouraging opinions that differ from ours, not encouraging moderators to silence them. It provokes good discussion.

  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:49AM (#38965805)

    If I predict disaster on every launch for this or that reason and post it on youtube (and delete the video it if there is no disaster), I might become famous on the one time that disaster strikes.

    If he predicted disaster on every launch, you might have had a point. The article and subsequent investigation did not reveal such a fact. It seems that this was the only time he and his coworkers argued against a launch. When someone takes a stand against what they normally do, you should pay attention.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @09:53AM (#38965833)
    Look kid, it's not a case of always doing things right. It was a case of people coming in that were not doing things right and as a consequence getting others killed. The Russians had that problem as well, for instance an idiot in charge of a project forcing people to take stupid shortcuts at gunpoint and getting hundreds killed in an explosion. Yes, bad management happens a lot but that's no excuse not to put projects with severe consequences of failure under adult supervision instead of some horse judge that has powerful friends.
  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:08AM (#38965983) Homepage

    You deserve to be modded down. Every life lost, that could have been avoided, is a disaster

    This is nice rhetoric. At another level, we do actually make real trade offs involving how many deaths are acceptable. For example, banning personal cars would likely save lives. But we're not going to do it because their convenience is too high. Similarly, in the US many children die drowning in backyard pools. Banning such pools would make sense if all you care about is total deaths. But we're not going to do so, because the overall chance of death is pretty small in any given case. Lots of people also die from alcohol related issues even without counting those from drunk driving. Etc. Etc. It creates a lot of cognitive dissonance to acknowledge that we're actually ok with letting some people die, because we don't like to tell ourselves that we allow that sort of thing. But we're still going to make the tradeoffs.

  • by drobety (2429764) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:12AM (#38966041)

    From the 1987 LA Times article:

    And for that, there was an additional private cost: resentment on the part of those who had been hoping to avoid, at least in part, official blame. It came from corporate executives, and from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Morton Thiokol's biggest customer. And it came from colleagues fearful that too much exposure of truth might hurt business and cost them their jobs.

    "If you wreck this company, I'm gonna put my kids on your doorstep," grumbled one. Someone finally dubbed the engineers "the five lepers."

    This is the sad reality: Whistle-blowers are often the target of ostracism from their contemporaries, while usually unanimously admired later in historical context. It's still not easy to be a whistle-blower [fairwhistleblower.ca], if anything, it's harder than ever [whistleblower.org].

  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kubernet3s (1954672) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:17AM (#38966101)
    As you say, they are rocket scientists. Which means that when the rocket scientists say don't go, you don't go, because they are the goddam rocket scientists and no matter how "cool" your head is, you know less than them about rocket scientist. Yes, there are mismanaged agencies all over the world and all throughout history. However, when the military makes a poor decision, or the FDA, they at least have the defenses that their endeavors are risky to begin with, that they have responsibilities that at times conflict with careful procedure, and that their management requires the synthesis of varied data towards a relatively nebulous end. Space programs are feats of science and engineering, both of which are far more concrete in their aims and guidelines. If a research program in say, a university laboratory, experienced accidents on the scale of the challenger disaster, large inquiries would be launched, and the guilty parties or policies identified, rather than the "whoopsie!" reaction NASA seems to always give, which given that they were forewarned in this case is especially troubling.

    While your exploration analogy appeals well to intuition, it is disingenuous insofar as space exploration is not a group of bold pioneers setting out with bowie knives and covered wagons, nor is it a capitalist enterprise where a few workers caught in the gears are considered acceptable losses: it is a careful and scientific exploration of human capability, and in such an exploration, care, more than speed or distance or results, is paramount. The Challenger disaster was a failed experiment, not in that it returned an unwelcome result, but that in it return no result of use. We now know that when you send humans into space with equipment you know to be faulty, there is a chance they will perish: how does that enrich our understanding? A failed exploration at least illuminates the conditions for failure; a slew of workplace accidents are unlikely to spoil the products of industry even as they illuminate no hazards. There was no illumination here, because the initial conditions were known, and led to the result we were almost certain to obtain. If a death happens, it happens. If a death happens, and it could have been prevented, but was not due to any concern which is ancillary to the central aim of the endeavor, is unforgiveable
  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MiniMike (234881) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:17AM (#38966111)

    This is going to be incredibly insensitive torwards those lives that were lost...

    If you are so sure, maybe you shouldn't say it. Right?

    He shouldn't keep quiet because he's insensitive. He should keep quiet because his argument is poorly thought out. It is not proper to compare human losses in other irrelevant or loosely related areas to losses in space exploration. The Challenger disaster simply would not have happened if the management had listened to the engineers. The Columbia disaster was caused by a known problem which they had always been lucky with before. Apollo 1 seems to have required several mistakes, including the flammable material in the cabin and the high-pressure O2 in an untested environment. It's clearly impossible to be perfect, but that doesn't mean you should just write off the resultant deaths, and ignore the lessons.

  • Re:In perspective (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:20AM (#38966147)
    You don't work for a corporation where safety is first. You do not understand what process safety is. No one was pushing the boundaries of space by pushing O rings beyond their safety limits. This was a preventable accident. Your specious arguments don't prove otherwise.
  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dragonhunter21 (1815102) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:26AM (#38966217) Journal

    There's no such thing as an accident. Everything has a cause. Unshielded electronics that shorts out in LEO? Not an accident. Mistake kilometers for miles and crash your probe into Mars? Not an accident. Lightning strike on takeoff? Not an accident- weather guy should have done his job. Launching your vehicle when it's so cold your O-rings get brittle and burn through the supports for your SRB? Not an accident. Foam-strike on liftoff that punches through the wing and causes the vehicle to break up on re-entry, when such foam strikes had been documented before? Not an accident.

    The blame falls on the engineers- until the engineers raise a fuss and the management ignores it. Someone is always accountable. Always.

  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by voss (52565) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:27AM (#38966235)

    We are not talking about 17 lives in 50 years. We are talking about 3 human lives lost during the entire 17 year Mercury, Gemini and Apollo eras with 0 lost during actual flight versus the 25 year shuttle era that lost 2 of the 4 shuttles with 14 crew in 50 flights. The problem is NASA spacecraft should be getting safer, less expensive and more reliable and instead were getting more expensive and less reliable and less safe. Project Constellation was more of the same with senators putting safety considerations secondary to contracts for their home districts.

  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoeMerchant (803320) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:32AM (#38966295) Homepage

    To the Offtopic mod... the connection to topic is that the "acceptable risk" reference above was talking about the last age of exploration. There were high risks taken during the last age of exploration, but they were more acceptable mostly because the risk takers went out of sight and either returned triumphantly or didn't return at all. Even those who returned with tales of horror were relating stories of events that happened months ago, out of sight and largely unimaginable to the listener.

    Live TV puts the situation right in everyone's face, immediate, real, and something they can empathize with. People watching Challenger blow felt the explosion themselves. It makes the risk less acceptable.

    Live TV cut popular support out from under the Vietnam War - it was no more gruesome than WWII or WWI, but it was wholly less acceptable to the voting public - for many reasons of course, but having the war brought live to your living room has a way of making it just a little more important to your decision making processes.

  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dragonhunter21 (1815102) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:33AM (#38966307) Journal

    When the complaint is theoretical, yeah sure. When your engineers are complaining about frozen O-rings and are showing you video of O-rings spitting fire, or when your engineers are complaining about foam shedding from the fuel tank and have numerous videos of that exact occurrence happening, that's different.

  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Leebert (1694) * on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:35AM (#38966329)

    For the record, I don't believe YOUR post deserves to be modded down, either. I'm sorry to see that it's been done, and I fear it might have been induced by my reply.

    In my opinion, Flamebait and Troll are actions of intention. When I moderate down, I try to discern the intention of the poster -- were they attempting to incite something? Did they or should they have known better? Even if they were trying to incite something, do they have a legitimate point that CAN be replied to in an informative way?

    Of course, more often I more try to find a good point-counterpoint thread and upmod both sides.

  • by trout007 (975317) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:40AM (#38966401)

    Here is some perspective. The question is how many of these types of warnings are issued every flight? It's very similar to when environmental groups oppose every development project. If you go out every time warning of disaster eventually a disaster happens and you are proven right. But what is the alternative? To never build? To never fly?

    Anyone who has ever designed anything critical always has a feeling they may have missed something. There is a phase called analysis paralysis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analysis_paralysis) . It is when you never do something because you are always checking another scenario in which it may fail.

    Whenever any complex system fails there will always be a record of someone warning about it because that is what engineers do. In fact it is obvious after the fact. We always think of ways something can fail. But with limited time and limited budget we can't follow all of those lines of thought to their conclusion. You have to prioritize the risks and accept them to get things done.

  • Re:In perspective (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pieroxy (222434) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:44AM (#38966473) Homepage

    You are right. We should try to eradicate death.

    Ah, also, if we shut up every time we might hurt someone, the internet would be nothing but a blank page.

    Think for a minute.

  • by wienerschnizzel (1409447) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:54AM (#38966625)

    has been effectively immortalized in engineering ethics classes

    Herein lies the problem. The lesson needs to be taught in Management 101 classes.

  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by demachina (71715) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @10:55AM (#38966639)

    You overlook the fact that, as a result of the Challenger accident, the Shuttle program was severly damaged. Prior to Challenger it was an aggressive program pushing boundaries, afterward it become conservative, limited and cautious. In the wake of Columbia it was crippled, and was relegated to almost the bare essential missions needed to finish and support the ISS. The Air Force largely abandoned the Shuttle and returned to expendable launchers, though many think they wanted to do that anyway and Challenger was just a convenient excuse.

    Shuttles were also different than expendable launchers. They were very limited in number, expensive and difficult to build especially after the assembly line had shut down so you couldn't afford to lose any of them without damaging the whole program.

    The loss of life aside, the consequences of the twin disasters were the entire program was wrecked, the U.S. manned spaced program was crippled, may never recover at NASA, and it was all preventable and unnecessary. At this point companies like SpaceX are probably the only hope for a recovery because they are culturally free of most of the problems afflicting NASA's culture. To be successful in a technology intensive endeavor like space exploration engineers need to have a dominant voice in the program. Their voice can't be drowned out by bureaucrats and program managers with insufficient regard for the engineering.

  • Re:Space is hard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by demachina (71715) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @11:03AM (#38966749)

    All of the Morton Thiokol engineers responsible for the O rings were telling them to stop, they new the O rings had issues with cold temperatures. It was an anomolously cold day in Florida. It almost never freezes at Kennedy but that morning there was ice all over the launch pad. Even setting the O rings aside it was enormously foolish to launch that morning and it was pretty obvious they should postpone a day until temperatures weren't aberrant.

    As I recall Reagan was giving a speech about the space program and timing it to coincide with the launch and the teacher-in-space and the bureaucrats were unwisely feeling political pressure to launch with all engineering and safety factors screamed for them to stop.

  • Re:In perspective (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @11:38AM (#38967211)

    You deserve to be modded down.

    No, he doesn't. He deserves to have a logical and thoughtful refutation of his opinion posted in reply. I'm so sick of (-1, Disagree).

    One logical argument, coming right up: those deaths were entirely foreseeable and preventable. It's not like the deaths were a result of limitations of our knowledge, or an absolutely necessary sacrifice for the greater good of humanity. No, those deaths were because some idiotic bureaucrat couldn't be bothered to listen to qualified engineers. Far as I am concerned that guy should be 1) sued by the families for wrongful death and 2) tried for involuntary manslaughter. Apparently legal action is the only thing that makes thick-headed organization-type bureaucrats wake up and take notice, cf. the insanity coming out of the public schools. No amount of logic or expertise or forewarning seems to have any effect on them.

    While NASA has it's share of bureaucrats; the real problem is not that they are thick headed or unwilling to listen; rather it's a systemic organizational problem that is not unique to NASA or the government. Everything from misunderstanding the risks involved (it was safe last time so it must be safe now); how data is presented and the tendency for technical people (much of NASA's leadership are technically trained) to disagree on what the data represents leads to a poor decision (in retrospect).,/P>

    It's a lot easier to say "That was wrong" after the fact than before.

  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zeromous (668365) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @11:58AM (#38967527) Homepage

    This is why management has no business in risk analysis. Management needs to stick to risk *reporting* and decision making based on a proper risk assessment carried out by engineers ESPECIALLY when lives and billions in equipment are on the line. You are really just saying the same thing as the parent post, except that it is somehow acceptable (or at the very least understandable!) that, managers are making poor risk assessments. It's neither acceptable nor excusable.

    It's an awful strawman to point out that hindsight is always 20-20. Of course it is!

  • Re:In perspective (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <(dadinportland) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @12:07PM (#38967635) Homepage Journal

    post modern bullshit.

    I was born in the United States of America. FACT.
    You post on /. - FACT
    Satellites are in orbit - FACT

    In science a fact is on objective and verifiable observation.
    This is why Germ Theory is a theory AND a fact.

    Also why 1 + 1 = 2 is a fact.
    It's observable, it reproducible.
    Peano's axioms helps explain that fact.

    The trouble here is, you are talking out of your ass. So, what? a BS?

  • Re:In perspective (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zildgulf (1116981) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @12:27PM (#38967921)
    From my perspective the race to launch the Challenger in freezing weather was indeed "go fever". It was strange that the flight was being delayed over and over again due to relatively minor technological and meteorological reasons and yet when an unusually strong cold front hit Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas, that is when the guys at NASA said go, even though the Space Shuttles were not designed to launch in freezing weather. Mechanical device operate differently in such cold weather. Even in Atlanta I had trouble starting and keeping my car running that morning when it was less than 10F. I thought the launch would be delayed yet again since this was a more serious problem than a faulty sensor or a cloudy day.

    Remember that when the ambient temperature is around 30F that water seeps into cracks and then ice forms and expands potentially damaging equipment that is not winterized. I know that having outside equipment not winterized is unthinkable in the Northern US but the cost of winterizing equipment that is not to be used in freezing temperature in much of the Southern US is considered a big fat waste of money. It would be like buying snow tires in Miami, a place that rarely gets snow. Also rubber and some soft plastic equipment when exposed to 30F can become stiff and more breakable depending on its composition. If you depend on this equipment being flexible and it is not at cold temperature and then you try to use it bad things can happen.

    The Challenger disaster felt different to me than the Columbia disaster. On the surface the Columbia disaster seemed to be the same thing but I don't think it was a disaster that the average person would've predicted. I remember someone telling me that the Challenger blew up and I said distinctly "It wasn't supposed to launch today, it was too cold to launch". I can't say the same for the Columbia disaster. The Challenger disaster felt more like "go fever" than the Columbia disaster.
  • Re:In perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tim4444 (1122173) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @12:29PM (#38967955)

    Nova did a program about the Columbia investigation. After running through the possibilities, the team finally sat down and worked out the expected velocities and forces involved with an impact with the foam debris. Nobody believed that foam could do any real damage so they finally tracked down a spare wing section and shot a piece of foam at it. The video is pretty damning and now it all seems so obvious. However, I got the impression that beforehand even the engineers had put this one in the acceptible risk column.

  • by HBI (604924) <kparadine AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @12:30PM (#38967963) Homepage Journal

    Probably because he would have been instantly fired. Keeping your kids fed and housed is probably more important than seven strangers. Cold, yes, but also true.

  • Re:In perspective (Score:4, Insightful)

    by networkBoy (774728) on Wednesday February 08, 2012 @12:51PM (#38968221) Homepage Journal

    And of all these fatalities, only Challenger was genuinely preventable.
    All the other deaths happened as a result of an accident (though I have my own feelings about Columbia*), and those accidental deaths were accepted by those who took the risk as possible. Do we want them to have died? no. Could we have prevented it? Yes, with hindsight.

    Challenger was an example of everything that is broken in the space program, much how we harp on megacorps here for not looking longer term then the next quarter or possibly the next year for business results, the NASA management looked no farther than "This launch is being simulcast to thousands of schools for the first teacher in space. Launch the SOB we don't want to disappoint the kiddos." Well I have a news flash for them, us kiddos (I was watching live in my 6th grade class) were beyond disappointed, my teacher was weeping in the back of the room, and all of a sudden space was no longer wondrous, but rather scary for most all of us.
    -nB
    * Columbia was preventable had NASA not embraced the tree huggers and switched to a CFC free foam for the main fuel tank. The new foam had a higher porosity and poorer adhesion. Let's face it, there are not enough shuttle launches in a year to appreciably matter when it comes to CFC emissions from making the foam insulation, and the SRB exhaust is much worse for the environment anyway. /rant

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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