In 1986, Ebeling was an engineer at Morton Thiokol
, where he worked on the ignition system and final assembly for the space shuttle program.
Nor is it a narrative on the grandeur of human spaceflight praiseful of the NASA, contractor Morton Thiokol
, or technocracy.
Surely after twenty-four years, the facts have been unveiled, and any mysteries behind this tragedy have been revealed, but actually Allan McDonald, the former director of the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Motor Project for Morton Thiokol
, Inc., and James Hansen, a former NASA historian who is currently a history professor at Auburn University, have composed a major contribution in describing from the inside one of NASA's darkest moments.
Whether it is Lieutenant Colonel Markinson failing to effectively challenge Colonel Nathan Jessep in A Few Good Men, or the failure by Morton Thiokol
engineers to convince their managers of the impending O-ring failures that led to the space shuttle Challenger disaster, the effect is the same.
Concerned that the [O- rings] would not seal at such a cold temperature, the engineers who designed the rocket opposed launching Challenger the next day." Their evidence was faxed to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where "a high-level NASA official responded that he was 'appalled' by the recommendation not to launch and indicated that the rocket-maker, Morton Thiokol
, should reconsider ...
He was the engineer who told management of his company (Morton Thiokol
) that the "O-Rings" on the space shuttle Challenger wouldn't seat properly below 53 degrees.
The Frandee (named for its builders Roy France and Emmett Devine) was the first project financed by the SCS and is a direct ancestor of the Thiokol IMP snow cats and other low-ground-pressure machines built for the military by Morton Thiokol
That company, Morton Thiokol
, was eventually found to have made defective seals for the shuttle's booster rockets.
The subsequent investigation showed this was an accident that could have been avoided had Nasa heeded the warning from Roger Boisjoly, an engineer at one of its contracted companies, Morton Thiokol
. Boisjoly had discovered that the rubber seals in the shuttle's twin solid rocket boosters were faulty, and tried desperately to stop the launch going ahead.
She used a powerful example--the simulated O-ring discussion between NASA (nasa.gov) and Morton Thiokol
(thiokol.com) before the Challenger disaster in 1986--to illustrate the challenge of making conversation work.
Hardy then reminded the engineers that the contract of their employer, Morton Thiokol
, which built the shuttle boosters, "is coming up for renewal soon," in an attempt to intimidate them into silence.
We passed the Thiokol Propulsion plant (formerly Morton Thiokol
), where in the '60s and '70s they built Minuteman and Peacekeeper missiles and where the defective but delightfully named O-rings for the Space Shuttle Challenger were made.