Reply to post: Re: It's about government control

No Falcon Way: NASA to stick with SLS, SpaceX more like space ex

Milton Silver badge

Re: It's about government control

"NASA's manned flight loses were entirely down to things that were thought to be reliable or impossible turning out not to be so."

In both cases—Columbia and Challenger—engineers had warned management about potentially lethal problems. Some engineers were horrifed when Nasa management decided to go ahead with the Challenger launch in such cold weather because they had explicitly warned about the cold O-ring risk. Repeated attempts to get DoD assets to inspect Columbia for damage, while in orbit, after the foam impact on its wing, were actively blocked by Nasa management. And it was Nasa managers who wrongly insisted that nothing could be done for the ship's crew if there were serious damage, when in fact, most unusually, on this occasion there was another bird (Atlantis I believe) well advanced in the launch process that could have rescued Columbia's crew.

Two full crews died not because engineers said that the chances of failure were an utterly ridiculous one:billion (that was Nasa managers) but because politics had, as it always does, corrupted the process of honest and intelligent professionalism, and Nasa managers stopped listening to the people who actually knew best.

So your statement would be more correct as:

"NASA's manned flight loses were entirely down to things that were known to be dangerous but were ignored by management for squalid political reasons."

Where politics and politicians are involved—the very antithesis of good, rational, intellectually honest thinking—good people die for nothing. Shuttle's problems were at root designed in by incessant cost-cutting and political interference, as it shrank from a sensible two-lifting-body design to the absurdly compromised firework that ended up killing more than two dozen people.

Musk is far from perfect, but insofar as his outfit remains untainted by Nasa's politics and its woeful progress in manned spaceflight since Apollo, he deserves our support.

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