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NASA’s Challenger Shuttle Gamble

In 1986, NASA’s Challenger Space Shuttle fell into a deadly tailspin 73 seconds into flight. The rocket hurtled into the ocean, killing everyone onboard.

The disaster was caused by the disintegration of one of the O-ring seals on the rocket boosters. This allowed hot gases to pour into the external propellant tank, throwing the shuttle off balance.

On further investigation, NASA engineers admitted that they had tested the O-ring seals under every possible circumstance, except one. Low temperatures. Unfortunately, the day of the launch just happened to be 10 degrees colder than any previous launch.

Seven people were killed onboard the Challenger Shuttle. The disaster is responsible for 40% of astronaut casualties in all of history. All because one small detail was overlooked. Or, should I say, ignored. NASA engineers later admitted knowing there was a 1/100 chance of the O-rings failing. They expressed their concerns to management who told them the risk wasn’t worth the work, so they rolled the dice.

Individually, no one man is to blame. Collectively, they all are. Gambling and risk is a part of all business, but the bigger the business, the more concern we must place on caution.