NASA wanting to be touted in Reagan's SOTU address may have killed the crew of the Challenger

Engineers warned about the cold weather launch danger, but were discounted, for some reason.
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/28/464744781/30-years-after-disaster-challenger-engineer-still-blames-himself

I remember when that came out, and I’m surprised it doesn’t get mentioned often. I didn’t catch it on the recent Challenger special on TV. Reading this almost made me cry.

There’s a whole book on it. My wife heard interviews the other day with the two engineers who spoke up at the time. They were right of course, but their careers were not pleasant after this. There’s a hour or more movie out there, it was on YouTube once, but not so easy to find. As an IT person, someone who sees all the data and knows if something is wrong, and is constantly told to cut corners and put out sub-par products, this story is rather close to my heart.

There was obviously a tragic outcome as a result of the decision to launch Challenger that day but I think the lesson to be learned is more one of an incredibly complex machine and the blind spots we have as humans when we assess risk rather than one of misplaced priorities.
Keep in mind that at the time of the Challenger disaster there had never been a shuttle accident. We all tend to overestimate the risk of things we have experienced and underestimate the risk of things we have not experienced. I have no doubt this bias played into the decision making.
I am not saying that the presidential address couldn’t have swayed the decision but every single launch is a calculated risk in which hundreds of factors are calculated into the final go/no-go decision. There is no such thing as a safe time to fly. Its always dangerous, but its all a measure of relative risk and how far you are to the dark side of the grey zone or the light side and where you draw the line?
Whether the presidential address was the final factor that pushed the decision over the line is an interesting question but one that no one can ever really answer. Suspicion isn’t fact.

There was obviously a tragic outcome as a result of the decision to launch Challenger that day but I think the lesson to be learned is more one of an incredibly complex machine and the blind spots we have as humans when we assess risk rather than one of misplaced priorities. Keep in mind that at the time of the Challenger disaster there had never been a shuttle accident. We all tend to overestimate the risk of things we have experienced and underestimate the risk of things we have not experienced. I have no doubt this bias played into the decision making. I am not saying that the presidential address couldn't have swayed the decision but every single launch is a calculated risk in which hundreds of factors are calculated into the final go/no-go decision. There is no such thing as a safe time to fly. Its always dangerous, but its all a measure of relative risk and how far you are to the dark side of the grey zone or the light side and where you draw the line? Whether the presidential address was the final factor that pushed the decision over the line is an interesting question but one that no one can ever really answer. Suspicion isn't fact.
Of course blasting off into the edge of space is risky. But you have heard the phrase "All systems are go." That, I presumed, was a standard institutionalized measure that NASA went by, precisely because it is such a dangerous endeavor. Apparently, all systems were not go, that day. Seems to me that this is a cautionary tale (non-fiction) that we should all keep in mind. If NASA can make this kind of mistake, with its institutionalized scientifically based orientation for risk aversion, consider the mistakes that must be regularly being made by other institutions that are not as grounded in science and risk aversion (particularly institutions that can actually and profoundly effect real lives by their decisions). You are correct that we don't know what the ultimate factors were that led to "We have ignition." that day, followed shortly by "...a major malfunction." But it was something that, seemingly, over-rode "All systems are go."

Yeah, there was enough info about it 30 years ago. They accepted too much political pressure to launch. There should have been criminal charges. Reagan is the idiot that took the solar panels off the White House and pushed SDI. Techno-idiot politicians rule the world.
psik