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

( 7 )

Overview

What they didn't want you to know

"We all watched in shock and disbelief when Challenger was lost. Probably no one felt more disappointment and regret than Allan McDonald, who had warned us not to launch that day. His story tells of loss, grief, and the eventual rebuilding and recovery."--Robert "Hoot" Gibson, former Space Shuttle pilot and commander

"A major contribution to a difficult episode in the history of human spaceflight."--Roger D. Launius, Division of Space History, ...

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

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Overview

What they didn't want you to know

"We all watched in shock and disbelief when Challenger was lost. Probably no one felt more disappointment and regret than Allan McDonald, who had warned us not to launch that day. His story tells of loss, grief, and the eventual rebuilding and recovery."--Robert "Hoot" Gibson, former Space Shuttle pilot and commander

"A major contribution to a difficult episode in the history of human spaceflight."--Roger D. Launius, Division of Space History, Smithsonian Institution

"McDonald tells the heartbreaking tale of how he saw his words of warning ignored, and the fateful consequences of that decision."--Donald C. Elder III, Eastern New Mexico University

On a cold January morning in 1986, NASA launched the Space Shuttle Challenger, despite warnings against doing so by many individuals, including Allan McDonald. The fiery destruction of Challenger on live television moments after launch remains an indelible image in the nation’s collective memory.

In Truth, Lies, and O-Rings, McDonald, a skilled engineer and executive, relives the tragedy from where he stood at Launch Control Center.  As he fought to draw attention to the real reasons behind the disaster, he was the only one targeted for retribution by both NASA and his employer, Morton Thiokol, Inc., makers of the shuttle's solid rocket boosters. In this whistle-blowing yet rigorous and fair-minded book, McDonald, with the assistance of internationally distinguished aerospace historian James R. Hansen, addresses all of the factors that led to the accident, some of which were never included in NASA's Failure Team report submitted to the Presidential Commission.

Truth, Lies, and O-Rings is the first look at the Challenger tragedy and its aftermath from someone who was on the inside, recognized the potential disaster, and tried to prevent it. It also addresses the early warnings of very severe debris issues from the first two post-Challenger flights, which ultimately resulted in the loss of Columbia some fifteen years later.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813041933
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • Publication date: 4/1/2012
  • Pages: 656
  • Sales rank: 422,893
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Allan J. McDonald retired as vice president and technical director for advanced technology programs at ATK Thiokol Propulsion in 2001. He was the director of the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Motor Project at the time of the Challenger accident and, later, vice president of engineering for space operations during the redesign and requalification of the solid rocket motors. James R. Hansen is professor of history and director of the Honors College at Auburn University. He is the author of First Man, an award-winning biography of Neil Armstrong which spent three weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    There are lessons for everyone in this book

    For three years in the 1970's Mr McDonald was my manager in Thiokol's propellant development department. Mr. McDonald was well respected as an engineer but those of us who were propellant development chemists (many PhD's) first reaction was "What the heck does he know about propellants?"
    We soon found out that he knew plenty and what he did not know, he learned fast. When I found out that his book had been published, I drove 80 miles (round trip) to buy a copy and finished reading it in 2 days. I was well rewarded for the effort. Al managed to combine the elements of a political thriller, a treatise an solid rocket motors, and a case study on professional ethics into one book. Although I left Thiokol's employ before the tragedy of the Challenger, I had contacts at my former employer and elsewhere in the rocket industry that kept me informed of the inside story. Everthing in the book is consistent with that which I was able to uncover. Make no mistake the technical material is "heavy duty". However one can still enjoy the book by just skipping over it.

    Now as to some criticisms. It was true that Roger Boisjoly and Al were treated like lepers not only by their management but also the rank and file. For management their is no sympathy but for the rank and file he does not point out that they were petrified that he might have cost them all their jobs. I also feel that he was unnecessarily harsh on one of his fellow engineers, Jack Kapp. I knew Mr. Kapp (deceased) albeit not well and did know that he enjoyed a stellar reputation both professionally and in the community. His funeral was attended by more than 400 people. I believe that his comments detailed by Al on pp 288-9 were made to rally the troops not for self-aggrandizement as implied by the author. Finally, I wish Al had included a chapter entitled "What to do if you have to blow the whistle". Not all of us have powerful congressional friends. It is unfortunately true that the "average" whistle blower ends up on the scrap heap of the unemployed and usually branded with a "S" for snitch. This is powerful inducement to keep ones mouth shut.

    My criticisms aside, this is a terrific book. You won't be sorry you spent the money, time and effort to read it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2009

    What a read!!

    This may be the most accurate book I have ever read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2009

    A must read

    McDonald's book is hard to put down once you start reading. It is the first written on Challenger by an involved person, an insider. Exhaustive details from the thorough notes he kept are presented. There are numerous lessons to be learned from his experience, which hopefully, will prevent future disasters in space. The details of how bureaucracies can screw up and cover up serve as an alert to those currently working in this field. It is a "must read" for everyone in the space launch or rocket business.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2011

    Very Interesting Story

    This book i had to read. For one, i love the shuttle program and i found the topic interesting, and second it was written by one of my grandparent's close friends. He was staying with them when this all occurred and they are mentioned a few times in the book/

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    Posted March 28, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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