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  Truth, Lies, and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

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Author Topic:   Truth, Lies, and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
cspg
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Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 09-25-2008 11:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Truth, Lies, and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
by Allan J McDonald and James R. Hansen
  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida (May 13, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0813033268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813033266

Jay Chladek
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Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 09-27-2008 10:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The title is a bit hookish, but if Hansen is involved, hopefully it will be a good one since he was a NASA historian and also wrote First Man. There are so many IMHO crappy Challenger books out there these days as most of the authors are trying to spin it for their own selfish reasons (which is to sell books).

I have to wonder if Neil might help with some of the research since he was on the Rodgers Commission to investigate the cause of Challenger.

Richard Easton
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Posts: 119
From: Winnetka, IL USA
Registered: Jun 2006

posted 09-28-2008 04:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Easton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There was an excerpt from this book in Vol 14 #3 of Quest.

It looked interesting though I'm not an expert on the Challenger disaster.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-29-2008 01:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unique aspects of Truth, Lies and O-Rings:
  • First book written on the Challenger accident by someone who was actually involved in the decision to launch and the aftermath;

  • First book to address all of the factors that led to the accident, some of which were never addressed in NASA's Failure Team report submitted to the Presidential Commission;

  • First book that contains anyone's personal experiences as a "whistleblower," retribution against that individual by his company, and his reinstatement to lead the redesign as a result of pressure from the Presidential Commission and the U.S. Congress;

  • First book to critically evaluate all testimony given to the Presidential Commission and the U.S. Congress and to point out conflicts and evidence of a cover-up by NASA concerning the launch decision;

  • First book to address the controversy, conflicts, and difficulties encountered in the redesign program to restore the Shuttle to safe flight ASAP.

  • First book to address early warnings of very severe debris issues from the first two flights after Challenger in 1988 that later resulted in the loss of Columbia some 15 years later.

  • First book to address what happened to all of the people at NASA and Morton Thiokol that were involved in that ill-fated decision to launch the Challenger on that cold chilly morning of January 28, 1986.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-29-2008 02:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is Truth, Lies, and O-Rings Table of Contents:
Foreword
Prologue: Cold, Hard Facts

Part One: Red Flags

Chapter 1 - When It Rains It Pours
Chapter 2 - Tests and 'No-Tests'
Chapter 3 - Dire Warning
Chapter 4 - A Total O-Ring Failure
Chapter 5 - An Impotent Task Force
Chapter 6 - 'In the Interest of Avoiding Pain'

Part Two: Misdiagnosis

Chapter 7 - The Teleconference
Chapter 8 - The Caucus
Chapter 9 - 'Obviously, A Major Malfunction'
Chapter 10 - 'Don't Blame Yourself'
Chapter 11 - 'When is the Space Shuttle Going Up, Daddy?'

Part Three: Search For The Truth

Chapter 12 - Shocking the Presidential Commission
Chapter 13 - Cover-Up
Chapter 14 - 'God, That Took a Lot of Guts'
Chapter 15 - A Leper in the Limelight
Chapter 16 - Walking Out
Chapter 17 - 'The Extremes of Allowable Engineering'
Chapter 18 - Changing Hats and Minds

Part Four: Obfuscation

Chapter 19 - Rationalization and Innuendo
Chapter 20 - 31 Degrees?
Chapter 21 - We Have a Problem with Houston
Chapter 22 - Finger Pointing
Chapter 23 - The Apocalypse Letter
Chapter 24 - 'Trouble with Your Logic'
Chapter 25 - The Monkey Changes Backs

Part Five: Commissioners And Congressmen

Chapter 26 - The Green Ball Theory
Chapter 27 - Commencement
Chapter 28 - Commodore Locke Assailed in Washington
Chapter 29 - The Bucks Stops Here?

Part Six: No Consensus

Chapter 30 - The Bell Tolls for Thee
Chapter 31 - Redesign and Resurrection
Chapter 32 - Boisjoly's $2 Billion Lawsuit
Chapter 33 - No Mountain Too High
Chapter 34 - The Peacekeeper Explosion
Chapter 35 - Witness for the Defense...and Prosecution
Chapter 36 - Confirming the Silver Bullet

Part Seven: Return-To-Flight

Chapter 37 - Flight of the Phoenix
Chapter 38 - Premonitions
Chapter 39 - Dissolution
Chapter 40 - Requiem

Mcdonald Biography: Big Sky Values
Bibliographical Essay
References
Glossary
Acknowledgments
Index

kr4mula
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Posts: 599
From: Cinci, OH
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 09-30-2008 10:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, reading the bullet points and table of contents, it sure doesn't seem like the authors are making much of an effort to be dispassionate in their history, right or wrong. I can understand McDonald doing that, especially since he feels slighted and probably wants to sell a lot of books, but you'd think Hansen would try to level things out a bit. But perhaps that's just marketing and an actual read will demonstrate otherwise.

Mr Meek
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Posts: 348
From: Chattanooga, TN
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 09-30-2008 11:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr Meek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, even in First Man, Hansen didn't shy away from strong or dramatic language (see: the title and its usage throughout the book as a proper noun) for effect. That book has a good balance of drama when appropriate, without being sensational.

And, let's face it, you cannot divorce the academic and the dramatic when it comes to something like the Challenger disaster. The magnitude of the failure of management, technology, and good sense cannot be fully expressed without accounting for both the human and organizational costs.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 09-30-2008 03:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good points there Meek. I will say it makes me want to read it right now. But looks like I have to wait a bit like everyone else.

I would say the only to date "good" book I've read about Challenger was Randy Avera's "The Truth About Challenger" as it covers things from the side of engineers at KSC during the prep, launch and reconstruction of the evidence. No real shocking revelations were made there, but it was an eye opener to me about how KSC dealt with the situation.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-06-2009 05:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Boggs SpaceBooks is now accepting pre-orders for "Truth, Lies and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster" signed by author Allan McDonald.

Offered at the list price of $39.95 plus shipping, each copy's dust jacket will be protected by a complimentary archival sleeve.

Reserve your copy(ies) by sending an e-mail to orders@boggsspace.com. Please include in your message that you learned about the offer on collectSPACE.

Boggs SpaceBooks will make a donation to collectSPACE for each copy ordered by our readers.

A few days before the books ship, Boggs SpaceBooks will reply via email with invoices through Google Checkout. You will then have the option to order or opt out at that time.

Lasv3
Member

Posts: 222
From: Bratislava, Slovakia
Registered: Apr 2009

posted 04-07-2009 08:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've just registered after several years of "reading only" and now having more leisure time I decided to be also on the active side in this great forum. I really enjoyed to watch the discussions so far and found many excellent leads to obtain very interesting and many time rare books, DVDs, etc.

Back to the topic - I got my book on Challenger last week from Amazon and I managed to go through the first two hundred pages so far. What I can only say now it's been a great reading, there are no "dramatical" sections, it's just facts and personal feelings and opinions presented by somebody who was directly involved. At the beginning you need to go through several technical stuff chapters where basic knowledge of the SRBs' design and related technical terminology and a portion of technical imagination will definitely help. On the other hand it is inevitable to go through this to understand what happened on January 28, 1986.

To me a big help is Spacecraft Films' Challenger set with recorded key testimonies and I recommend it to everybody, it gives another dimension to that what you read in the book.

As a conclusion after reading only one third of the book so far I can say I enjoy it very much and I'm looking forward to finish the book till Easter hopefully.

gliderpilotuk
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Posts: 3043
From: London, UK
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 04-29-2009 04:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just acquired the book and while the subject matter is clearly well-researched and presented I can't say the same for the few photos that are included. It looks like they have been laser-printed onto regular paper such that the details have been blurred out. Not what I'd expect from a $40 book.

Boggs SpaceBooks
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Posts: 108
From: Anderson, Indiana
Registered: Oct 2000

posted 05-11-2009 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Boggs SpaceBooks   Click Here to Email Boggs SpaceBooks     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We've completed the signing with Dr. McDonald and we are now shipping copies.

Although the photos may not be the best, the text is top notch. McDonald has written an excellent book and taken a very challenging topic and presented it well, with noted aerospace Auburn historian James Hansen's editorial assistance.

We believe McDonald would say that good engineering is dispassionate, and the tone of the book reflects the enormous challenge of facing those who refused to acknowledge good engineering in an effort to meet schedule.

It is a story of great moral courage. Personally inspiring as well as historically accurate. Highly recommended.

Please mention collectSPACE in your ordering comments.

As always, a transparent archival sleeve is included to protect the dust jacket.

McDonald has SIGNED and added Former Director, Space Shuttle SRM Project, Morton Thiokol, Inc. beneath his name. First edition, first printing.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-21-2009 10:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Auburn University release
Auburn professor helps pen first-of-its-kind book on Space Shuttle Challenger

Twenty-three years after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, Auburn University Professor and author James Hansen has helped produce a compelling book recounting exactly why the U.S. space program's first fatal in-flight accident occurred.

Hansen, professor of history and director of Auburn's Honors College, teamed up to write the new 626-page book "Truth, Lies, and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster" with Allan McDonald. McDonald was an engineer who warned NASA officials that Challenger's solid rocket motor could explode at ignition if launched that very cold morning on Jan. 28, 1986.

In the book, which was just released by the University Press of Florida, Hansen assists McDonald in telling how his words of warning were ignored and the fateful consequences of that decision.

"The fiery destruction of Challenger, with seven American astronauts on board, including the first ordinary citizen, a beloved schoolteacher, happened more than two decades ago," writes Hansen in the foreword to the book. "One might think that historians have duly recorded -- and that the technical aerospace community has fully comprehended for some time -- exactly why the U.S. space program's first fatal in-flight accident occurred on the cold, heartless morning of January 28, 1986. Surely, the facts underlying the horrible tragedy must have all surfaced by now, all the evidence fully examined and reexamined, all the expert testimony scrutinized, all the critical failure points analyzed and digested, all the penetrating engineering studies performed, all the revelatory books and articles written, all the important lessons learned."

"It is not the case," Hansen writes.

In the first published memoir by anyone directly associated with the decision to launch Challenger, McDonald, with Hansen's help, writes about officials ignoring - and then covering up - the warnings he offered, and the price he paid to expose the truth. McDonald was director of the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Motor Project for Morton Thiokol Inc. in Utah at the time. He was sent to Kennedy Space Center as the company's senior management representative for the Challenger launch.

According to Hansen, in the years after the explosion, McDonald tried to avoid publicity -- first, because he was testifying in investigations, then because he was concentrating on redesigning the solid rocket motor for a safe return to space. But during that time, Hansen said McDonald had put together six big boxes of notes, including 1,400 handwritten pages about what happened. He retired in 2001 and decided it was finally time to tell his story.

Hansen said that the main reason McDonald wanted his story published was that he didn't want the lessons learned to be forgotten and he wanted to make sure there wouldn't be another such disaster.

"If you don't put all that information on the table, you're liable to make the same mistake," McDonald said. "And like the Presidential Commission acknowledged, this is a failure in human management, which is equally as important as the piece of equipment that failed. If either one of those would have been operating properly, the accident wouldn't have happened."

Hansen said "Truth, Lies and O-Rings" isn't just about what went wrong with the Challenger disaster but it is also about what went right as it also recounts what McDonald and others did to redesign the solid rocket motor and get the Space Shuttle flying again.

"The first time a shuttle returned to space after the accident, in 1988, Al was there," Hansen said. "During the countdown, he was holding his breath, along with everyone else. I was doing the same at home, watching TV. I had no idea then that I would team up with Al to tell his powerful story."

gliderpilotuk
Member

Posts: 3043
From: London, UK
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 08-16-2009 11:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just got back from holiday where I started reading this book. It's a VERY technical and therefore dry read, but that's not to say it doesn't have a valuable place in history. Probably best read under conditions of complete concentration.

One minor gripe: the book refers to the Thiokol corporate jet as a "Hawker Sidley" (sic). No such thing. "Hawker Siddeley" was a UK aircraft manufacturer (the basis of BAe), that produced the HS125 corporate jet (production subsequently sold to Raytheon). I presume the authors meant to refer to the HS125.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 09-04-2009 11:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Last night after finally getting a copy I managed to put in a five hour reading session, with the most recent chapter I concluded (about 1/3rd of the way through it) being where MacDonald finishes his testimony to the Rogers Commission and Sally Ride says "That took a lot of guts". I gotta say, if you are able to follow the engineering stuff, it can suck you in like a thriller.

Hopefully I'll finish the book over the weekend.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 09-18-2009 01:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I did finish the book that weekend and I am still sort of digesting the reading. I must say, I've NEVER had a book suck me in like that as I spent many hours reading it as it was that good a page turner.

Alan McDonald has written a nice memoir on his time at Morton Thiokol from his work on the Filament Wound Casing boosters intended for the Vandenberg launches to the work on the SRB redesign. It certainly pulls no punches and I have no doubt it might open some old wounds among those involved. But, I do think to date it is probably one of the best books written about Challenger. It is certainly the best one I've ever read anyway.

For anyone even remotely interested in shuttle SRBs, this will provide a very good explaination of how they operate and the challenges involved in design, construction, operation and redesign of the motors. It does get a bit technical, but I think the typical collectSPACE crowd can follow it with no problems. You also get some good background into some of the individuals on the Rogers commission. Neil Armstong's own comments during the various public and private sessions reflect how sharp his engineering mind is on issues like these, as is Sally Ride's.

The funniest bit involves the "Green Ball Theory". I won't spoil it, but if it got a Nobel prize winning physicist to laugh, you certainly will. As such, I highly recommend this book. I also concur with what I've read in a couple other reviews online as this should be required reading for engineering students in regards to engineering and ethics.

Tyler
Member

Posts: 27
From: Auburn, Alabama, United States
Registered: Aug 2009

posted 11-21-2010 10:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tyler   Click Here to Email Tyler     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The authors of this book will be awarded next year with the 2011 Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award.

I'm glad to see that Dr. Hansen has added another accolade to his aerospace history career.

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