Your article “73 seconds to tragedy” (M.E.N., 31 January) was a good reminder of the Challenger Space Shuttle’s destruction.
The night before the shuttle was torn apart high above Florida, the engineers for Morton Thiokol, the company that built its booster rockets held a meeting with their own management and with NASA. They begged for the launch to be postponed, because the temperatures were so low that they knew there was a very high risk of failure of the rubber “o-rings” which were supposed to stop fuel leakage. Some expected the Shuttle to blow up on the launchpad.
They presented their case. Eventually, they were excluded from the meeting and the management of their company and the management of NASA agreed to… ignore them and push on with the launch.
Seven lives were lost the following day.
One of the engineers, Roger Boisjoly, spent the rest of his life explaining how that had happened, and the dangers of ignoring data.
The lesson is that political considerations and the need to look good can overwhelm the need to do what is needed, not what is convenient.
Manchester has burned a quarter of its carbon budget for the 21st century in the last two years. Meanwhile, Manchester City Council and its hangers-on continue on their merry way, just like the Morton Thiokol and NASA managements.
Dr Marc Hudson