The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster - The Space Shuttle...

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The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster A Study in Organizational Ethics (See related Group Think references: ) The Space Shuttle Challenger, with school teacher Christa McAuliffe aboard, exploded in flames on live television on January 28, 1986. Because of the intense public interest in the explosion and the fiery death of the astronauts, the Challenger case has been fully publicized. The direct cause of the Challenger explosion was technical - faulty O-rings. But the Challenger also presented a case study in organizational communication and ethics, including the ethics of organizational structure and culture as it promotes or discourages necessary communication, the ethics of whistle blowing, and an excellent study of group think. We will examine at least two aspects of this case: the ethics of organizational structure and culture, and the ethics of group think. And, as our discussions develop, perhaps some of the other related issues as well. Refer to the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident (the Rogers Commission) report for the official version of the Challenger explosion: contents.html. Note especially the chapters on Other Contributing Causes of the Accident and The Silent Safety Program . There is a general clearinghouse on Challenger accident web references at: (These sites may not link from this text. You can search for Space Shuttle Challenger Accident , Rogers Commission or cut and paste the addresses.) The following is a significantly abridged version of perhaps the best communication- oriented article on the Challenger: Ethics in Organizations: The Challenger Explosion by Ronald C. Kramer in Communication Ethics: Methods of Analysis by James A. Jaska and Michael S. Pritchard, second edition, 1994, Wadsworth Publishing. This book is strongly recommended to all students in the MASCL program. A System Breaks Down On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded in midair, sending six astronauts and schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe to their deaths. The initial public reaction was shock and disbelief. Americans had come to expect routine flights from NASA. Well
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before the shock had eased, the public wanted to know why the accident took place. Some of the reasons surfaced almost immediately, and they were disturbing. The press reported that engineers at Morton Thiokol, the contractor responsible for building the solid rocket booster, had vigorously opposed the launching of Challenger, but their warning had not been heeded by management. These engineers suspected what the Rogers Commission would later support, that the immediate cause of the explosion was a burn through of the solid rocket booster joint O-rings - the same O-rings that
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This note was uploaded on 09/26/2011 for the course ENGR 2002 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '11 term at The University of Oklahoma.

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The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster - The Space Shuttle...

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