The Reagan Administration pushed hard for NASA to launch shuttle mission 51L, before it was ready. 73 seconds into the launch, the shuttle exploded, killing seven people and leaving a nation traumatized. Richard Cook, the lead resource analyst at NASA for the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs), was the first to warn of possible catastrophic failure.
His memo, which detailed astronaut concerns and warnings from the shuttle builders at Morton Thiokol, were ignored by top NASA officials and members of the Reagan administration. In the aftermath of the explosion, NASA launched an investigation to "discover" the cause of the disaster. Though within NASA there was absolute certainty about the O-ring joint failure, they began a cover-up by publicly proclaiming that the cause of the explosion was unknown.
A Reagan administration Commission perpetrated the same lie. And when Richard Cook realized that the Commission was not interested in revealing the truth, he acted as a true patriot and hero and leaked the original O-ring warning documents to the New York Times. His article set off a cascade of disclosures about the events leading up to the disaster, including revelations by Morton Thiokol engineers that they had tried to stop the launch.
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Great book, poor sound quality
- Jeff Scott
First-rate history of 51-L
An invaluable contribution
I know a lot about this accident and have read a great deal about it and did not expect to learn much, but I learned a tremendous amount from Mr. Cook's account. This book is not for casual readers, though. The most memorable moment was probably the previously censored transcripts of the Rogers Commission and the context provided.
The problem with this audiobook is really mediocre production values. The author read it, and he was ok, but there's a lot of audible lip smack and other amateurish distractions in terms of the overall quality.
Yes, very much so.
This is a really valuable first-person account that draws on a lot of primary source material not available elsewhere. Don't be fooled by the sensationalist headline; this is a book for level-headed folks interested in facts. This is not a pop history or 'character driven' account of the Challenger 51-L accident, and it is probably not going to excite many readers who are not engineers/aerospace types/people interested in US Government procedural histories/those looking for something light to listen to in the car. For certain readers, though, this is as good as it gets. Mr. Cook's contribution to the historical record here is invaluable.
- Amazon Customer