In 2993, Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentering the Earth’s atmosphere.  The reason given was technical failure: one of the heat shields blew off and the 3,000-degree heat cut through the craft and started a fire, which then caused the explosion.

The heat tiles were glued in place individually by hand.  Think about that.  A ship that travels 16,000 miles an hour, travels in space at temperatures minus 424 Kelvin (three degrees above absolute zero, then reenters the Earth atmosphere at extreme temperatures.

Think about that.  Would pilot a plane or any vehicle where the only thing in between you and burning alive was a piece of foam glued on my a person…and person?

So why was it done this way?

Money of course.

Various different shuttle designs were considered.  Initial designs from Lockheed included a two-stage, fully reusable shuttle built with all aluminum. NASA and contractors further studied the titanium versus aluminum consideration.  These trade studies showed that a titanium shuttle would weigh 15% less than its aluminum counterpart.  Titanium could withstand an additional 350°F, and would save in the amount of thermal protection required, in addition to being a lighter material.  However, would cost 2.5 times more.

Therefore, we went with heat tiles glued on by people.  A lot cheaper, and the hell with human life.

Challenger, in 1986 blew up because an oil ring that seal a fuel value froze and the fuel ignited.

Studies had been done that showed the o-ring did not seal at low temperatures, but flight controllers thought they could dismiss those findings and went ahead with the launch.

NASA managers had known since 1977 that contractor Morton Thiokol‘s design contained a potentially catastrophic flaw in the O-rings, but they had failed to address this problem properly. NASA managers also disregarded warnings (an example of “go fever“) from engineers about the dangers of launching posed by the low temperatures of that morning, and failed to adequately report these technical concerns to their superiors.

Forecasts for January 28, 1986 predicted an unusually cold morning, with temperatures close to −1 °C (30 °F), the minimum temperature permitted for launch. The Shuttle was never certified to operate in temperatures that low. The O-rings, as well as many other critical components, had no test data to support any expectation of a successful launch in such condition.

But launch they did, then, in the hearings afterwards, every technician, every manufacturer, every department lied their asses off to save them selves.  They knew it was a disaster waiting for a time and place to occur yet they launched and seven dedicated people died.

Welcome to business as usual in America, where money rules and human life is expendable.

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