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marketrent OP t1_ivvn171 wrote


>The artifact was discovered by a TV documentary crew seeking the wreckage of a World War II-era aircraft. Divers noticed a large humanmade object covered partially by sand on the seafloor.

>The proximity to the Florida Space Coast, along with the item’s modern construction and presence of 8-inch square tiles, led the documentary team to contact NASA.

>“While it has been nearly 37 years since seven daring and brave explorers lost their lives aboard Challenger, this tragedy will forever be seared in the collective memory of our country. For millions around the globe, myself included, Jan. 28, 1986, still feels like yesterday,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

>“This discovery gives us an opportunity to pause once again, to uplift the legacies of the seven pioneers we lost, and to reflect on how this tragedy changed us. At NASA, the core value of safety is – and must forever remain – our top priority, especially as our missions explore more of the cosmos than ever before.”

>A major malfunction 73 seconds after liftoff resulted in the loss of Challenger and the seven astronauts aboard.


NASA, November 10, 2022 ~10:00 GMT-5.


fantasmoofrcc t1_ivwbzgk wrote

I'd use stronger language than "major malfunction"...


david4069 t1_ivwtzch wrote

The callout by the announcer when it happened was "We've had a major malfunction." It's probably a reference to that.


woodnwheel t1_ivzt8b8 wrote

Forgive me for nitpicking, but while I agree with you that Nelson the article was probably referencing that language, I just looked up and listened to the audio again because I remember the quote slightly differently. Here’s what he said:

>Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction.


david4069 t1_ivzv7hd wrote

Weird how your memories of an event burned into your mind like that can be so clear and still be wrong. More proof about how eyewitness testimony is crap in many cases.

Thanks for the correction on the specific phrasing. I guess the most important part was the "major malfunction" part for the point I was trying to make, but I appreciate you finding the exact quote.


GArockcrawler t1_iw02ndy wrote

Most understatedly accurate statement in the history of mankind. That phrase was seared into my memory that day.


raidriar889 t1_ivwzysr wrote

I don’t see why the phrase “major malfunction” doesn’t perfectly describe what happened to the o-rings. Those are the exact word they used on the live TV broadcast.


Pihkal1987 t1_ivx63au wrote

Because it was a known and reported on malfunction ahead of time. Probably why people take cause with the verbiage.


wolfie379 t1_ivxi1gp wrote

Although if the person making the callout was looking at a screen of data from the telemetry, rather than a video (or Mark 1 eyeball$ of the launch, they might have assumed that the sudden stop in data was due to a major malfunction of the telemetry rather than a catastrophic failure of the craft.


prob_wont_respond t1_ivz04t9 wrote

Ok, still sounds like a major malfunction. A known and reported major malfunction.


PoopDeScoopDeWoop t1_ivzuoql wrote

We all know and understand the literal meaning, I think it's the semantics and sentiment behind what was said though.

If I told you that the next time you drive your car there's a very high likelihood one of the wheels comes off, and it does, you're not gonna be all surprised like "whoa there's been a malfunction!!". You would probably be more like "oh that thing happened that he said was going to happen".


DaoFerret t1_ivwhrta wrote

As someone who got to witness the launch from the visitor peninsula (car to the visitors center, bus from there) and as a lifelong fan of Richard Feynman, I would use much stronger language and douse whoever used those words in a glass of ice-water.


pinotandsugar t1_ivxuvdj wrote

Feynman's addendum to the Challenger Report and "Truth, Lies and "O" Rings should be mandatory reading for young engineering, and MBA students.

""For a successful technology," Feynman concluded, "reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."[6]"


gaunt79 t1_ivybwzm wrote

I made it mandatory reading when I was the supervisor of a flight safety engineering team.


KingTut747 t1_ivy01ta wrote

Major malfunction is literally the strongest language NASA uses to describe an incident… The rocket blowing up is considered a major malfunction by NASA. They use very technical verbiage.

I am really not sure why you think you should be the one creating verbiage for NASA?


craigiest t1_ivy9i9y wrote

This isn’t true. In this NASA account of NASA history they call it an accident, an explosion, and a “fiery crash.” “Major malfunction” is just the phrase the announcer used when it became apparent that something had gone wrong. Besides, this is a news article. There would be no obligation that the writer hew to technical language even if NASA did. This isn’t a technical report.


punkinfacebooklegpie t1_ivydny3 wrote

>I am really not sure why you think you should be the one creating verbiage for NASA?

Don't you know who I am? I'm Mr. Nasa.


piper_at_the_gates_ t1_ivyzl4k wrote

>I am really not sure why you think you should be the one creating verbiage for NASA?

What a ridiculous standard. We're allowed to criticize NASA, especially when it comes to Challenger.

'Malfunction' is a weak word to describe their poor management and cowardice that killed 7 astronauts.


thinthehoople t1_ivzhj8c wrote

The guy was calling out telemetry in real time, “major malfunction” in that context is not just defensible but desired.

These are engineers and technical people confronted with a technical problem in real time. They need accurate, not emotional or pr-based language to work the problem.

It wasn’t this guy’s place nor function to encapsulate the entire situation while doing his job in the moment.

You can criticize NASA plenty, and at your pleasure, but this is a dumb one to pick.


piper_at_the_gates_ t1_iw108xh wrote

OPs quote, and the usage of the word "malfunction" here, is from an article by NASA's history department aimed at the general public.


thinthehoople t1_iw10ehj wrote

I watched it in real time, too. Your analysis is wrong.


piper_at_the_gates_ t1_iw1dtol wrote

That's not what this post or thread is talking about. See what OP submitted, it's a press article not a quotation. The use of "malfunction" isn't part of Bill Nelson's speech.


Epcplayer t1_ivxjouj wrote

> At NASA, the core value of safety is - and must forever remain - our top priority, especially as our missions explore more of the cosmos than ever before.

…proceeds to leave Artemis rocket out on the launch pad during a Hurricane…


LazAnarch t1_ivyzbc6 wrote

Let's not forget that plenty of engineers and safety people at nasa said not to launch the day challenger went up. It was the decision of executives to ignore this and proceed.


AthiestLoki t1_ivy7mxe wrote

Not to mention the other shuttle explosion...


Epcplayer t1_ivy9fxc wrote

I was going off just last week, when he was the NASA director… but yeah, Space Shuttle Columbia as well.

Columbia Accident Investigation Board

> It was the seventh known instance of a piece of foam, from this particular area of the external tank, breaking free during launch.

> The problem of debris shedding from the external tank was well known and had caused shuttle damage on every prior shuttle flight. The damage was usually, but not always, minor. Over time, management gained confidence that it was an acceptable risk.


gaunt79 t1_ivycyaj wrote

Columbia University sociologist Diane Vaughan wrote The Challenger Launch Decision to illustrate the theory of "normalization of deviation", in which accepting small deviations from requirements leads to a slippery slope and eventually places a project in an extreme state of nonconformance. She added a section on Columbia in the second edition to show that NASA hadn't actually learned anything from earlier disasters.


fjzappa t1_ivym90j wrote

And the reason they used that particular foam was because "more environmentally friendly." Apparently not "astronaut friendly."


invaderzim257 t1_ivz31cx wrote

…is that relevant to why it came off of the shuttle? or is it just a point that people can hang on and direct criticism at?


fjzappa t1_iw0267j wrote

Yes it's relevant. The foam was a different composition than the original. Original composition foam did not flake off in flight. But it had some pretty strong solvents that were emitted to the air as it cured.


> In July 2005, NASA reported that they changed the foam insulation a decade earlier, switching from a foam-blowing agent that used an environmentally damaging chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) to one using a more benign hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) blowing agent. The newer HFC-blown foam insulation is a significant change since it is reported to be more brittle than the originally specified insulation material.


SnooWoofers530 t1_ivyzmfk wrote

Challenger technically did not explode, the explosion noise was added by a news station and everyone kept using that film


YsoL8 t1_ivxtwa8 wrote


Agree its pretty dubious though. Probably end up having to take it off the pad to fix it and recertify it anyway.


adam-first t1_ivyy1hu wrote

If I recall correctly, Bill Nelson went up on the last shuttle flight before the Challenger disaster. Lucky for him, I suppose, that NASA started sending politicians up on the shuttle before they started sending teachers.


[deleted] t1_ivw39ha wrote



porkchop2022 t1_ivwcwob wrote

Are there any links to view the footage? I’m curious as hell to see what they found.


0_0_0 t1_ivwffi7 wrote


92894952620273749383 t1_ivwsb4y wrote

Is going to be mystery of bermuda triangle, again? i hope they would be more respectful.


3percentinvisible t1_ivxalf8 wrote

It's because the divers were filming that episode when they discovered the piece


pinotandsugar t1_ix14gyq wrote

I'm surprised that there is such a big deal about finding a piece. I know they searched a large area but given the vast area in which debris landed it is likely that there is a lot more out there.


92894952620273749383 t1_ivxd6qs wrote

I'm glad they found it.

I just wish they change the tone. Its not right to present it in that format. Someone more articulate than me could probably describe it better.


rz2000 t1_ivy9v4o wrote

I think you're saying that including the find in one of their spooky mysteries(!) episodes is like treating it as part of their no-value, highly self-indulgent, entertainment.

I was walking to a meeting at 3 World Trade center when the first plane flew over my head, and everyone on the street ran because of the visible cloud of debris above us after it hit. No one I knew was killed, but many of my friends did lose people. A few years later a coworker based in Nebraska was at dinner with a group of New Yorkers, totally treating the entire incident as fodder for his mental masturbation. Sorry guy, I'm not interested in hearing about how there were no actual planes, or who knows a friend who knows a friend who has some of the dust that could be sampled, and, if you don't keep it down a litle someone in this restaurant who did lose a spouse or a child might come over and knock your lights out.

Real investigations into the truth behind disasters are extremely helpful in preventing future accidents, and in helping bring closure to victims. Nutty conpiracy theorizing, where all of the endorphins for the truthers come from disordered seeking out of mystery and not-knowingness, and automatically throwing out any facts once they become certain enough to feel mundane, is very different than slowly and deliberately building up facts necessary for a narrative that actually gets close to explaining most of what happened.


-TheTechGuy- t1_ivzc7b5 wrote

TBF, from the trailer it seems like they're more "theory busting" than trying to prove there's a mystery about the bermuda triangle.

Either way it looks like an interesting show if you like shipwrecks.


msherretz t1_ivzaqsv wrote

And screen grabs will be all over Space Reddit


MoMedic9019 t1_ivwuzsu wrote

Its a part of the shuttle itself, likely from underneath the payload bay doors.


Spaceguy5 t1_ivwxwgr wrote

Not under the doors, but the very bottom of the vehicle. The belly of the vehicle was covered in square shaped tiles and a relatively flat shape, which matches the piece that they found.

Under the doors were radiators, and the doors for the most part had no tiles on them


Schnort t1_ivzsu6t wrote

The entire bottom of the shuttle had black tiles, so this piece is likely not from the bottom (unless the black tiles bleached in their stint in the ocean or they stopped using black, but I don't think they did).


Spaceguy5 t1_ivzt5nv wrote

The tiles are white on the inside, and these tiles look pretty clearly like the tops were ripped off. You can also see bits of black on the sides of some of the tiles that are still there.


Schnort t1_ivztnnf wrote

Very possible. Looking closer at the video shows a veneer of black around the edges of the tiles near the buried surface.

I would have assumed the entire tile was made from a black ceramic, and not just the outer veneer.

I'm assuming the tops weren't ripped off, but just eroded by sand and ocean currents. (You can see rounded cavities and voids typical of erosion in the video)


Spaceguy5 t1_ivzu0k8 wrote

True, could have been erosion and ocean currents wearing them down as well.

The inside of the tiles is pretty much a foam like texture (extremely porous), except it's hard and made out of silica. And then they would add either a white or a hard black coating on the outside


johnn48 t1_ivwvnyd wrote

I’d be curious if NASA would want to recover it to determine if it added anything to their understanding of what went wrong. Will this be a “let the honored dead Rest In Peace”, we’ve determined the cause and we’ve moved on. Curious to see what happens.


mrgtiguy t1_ivwx1c4 wrote

The know what went wrong. An o ring failed because of cold weather and pressure to launch a teacher, amongst other crap. Horrible design that set us back decades.


Spaceguy5 t1_ivwy60i wrote

The design wasn't bad, if it was used properly in the correct environment. The way they were using it is what was bad, because it wasn't designed to be used at those temperatures and they knew it but ignored the spec. And using stuff outside of spec without any kind of analysis nor investigation to confirm it won't be a problem is a lesson they learned in blood. It's something still taught to the current NASA work force (which I'm part of).


isanameaname t1_ivx9d88 wrote

They had been partially failing since early testing but that partial failure was deemed acceptable because they failed in a way which was thought to be within acceptable levels of risk:

Fun fact: it wasn't.

> Evaluations of the proposed SRB design in the early 1970s and field joint testing showed that the wide tolerances between the mated parts allowed the O-rings to be extruded from their seats rather than compressed. This extrusion was judged to be acceptable by NASA and Morton Thiokol despite concerns of NASA's engineers. A 1977 test showed that up to .052 inches (1.3 mm) of joint rotation occurred during the simulated internal pressure of a launch. Joint rotation, which occurred when the tang and clevis bent away from each other, reduced the pressure on the O-rings which weakened their seals and made it possible for combustion gases to erode the O-rings.


intern_steve t1_ivy3wpw wrote

If you watch old slow motion footage of the boosters during launch you can actually see small puffs of smoke escaping from the seams between booster segments before the o rings extrude to fill the gap.


wattatime t1_ivxhgju wrote

Studied this in a business class as an example of leadership making a poor decision. The engineers didn’t want to sign off on it and the pressure to lunch on that day led to a poor decision by leadership.


SailboatAB t1_ivyjsyt wrote

It wasn't just pressure to launch a teacher. Part of the arguments NASA had made to secure funding for the shuttle program had hinged on the claim they could launch on reliable schedules. The military wanted more funding for unmanned rockets to launch satellites, but NASA had prevailed in Congress partly by asserting that the shuttles could put military hardware into space, replacing the need for more or newer unmanned boosters. The military was dubious they could maintain tight schedules and launch on short notice.

NASA felt pressure to prove their program could get into space regularly with minimal delays/cancellations in order to justify the spending and prove the military "wrong."


92894952620273749383 t1_ivwzmzk wrote

Why did they need an oring? When other rockets don't need them. That is the real tragedy.


Spaceguy5 t1_ivx0fes wrote

They need O-rings to seal the joints because the SRBs of that massive size are made by stacking multiple segments together and you need to be able to seal the hot gasses inside between the joints. There's no practical way to make SRBs that big without splitting them into segments

It wouldn't have been an issue if they used them at the correct temperatures. Though to be extra safe, they also redesigned the joints to be more robust and have a second layer after the failure. That redesign + more strict rules on launch temperatures led to there never being another issue with that part of the booster.


ExecutiveAvenger t1_ivx90fo wrote

There certainly was also a design error with the joints since there really wasn't any redundancy. The new design solved this.


Spaceguy5 t1_ivx9lvs wrote

I mean, redundancy and fault tolerance aren't absolutely mandatory for a design to be good, as long as it's a simple design used in design operating conditions with a low chance of failing. SRBs flown pre-STS-51L in design temps didn't have signs of burn through, only ones flown cold showed signs (which the fact those flown out of spec showed signs even before 51L should have set off alarm bells and gotten the situation resolved without loss of life)

But yes, it definitely was made a better design by adding that fault tolerance, and without adding too terribly much mass and complexity. And it makes sense that they'd add it in after experiencing that failure mode (even if it was caused by out of spec operation) just to give more peace of mind.


SquiffSquiff t1_ivxdrlv wrote

Perfectly possible to make them that size, as discussed e.g. Here. It was because they wanted to manufacture them in Utah for I'm sure entirely sound technical reasons that had nothing whatsoever to do with politics


Spaceguy5 t1_ivxea9z wrote

Can you not? Cut it out with the conspiracy crap. As someone who works on the space program, I'm tired of hearing all the anti NASA peanut gallery comments that just assume some weird political corruption is going on behind the scenes, and that that is the only reason the architecture was planned how it was. It's very far removed from reality but yet that conspiracy garbage is something me and my coworkers get spammed with practically every time we talk about work on social media.

Also you should read that r/science comment you linked as a source more closely because it mentions practical reasons why segmenting makes sense and actually supports what I said moreso than you.


SquiffSquiff t1_ivxhbkb wrote

The point being that NASA could transport entire Saturn V rocket stages (by barge) and the shuttle orbiter (by plane) but for some reason there was 'no way' these boosters could be made in a single piece...


theholyraptor t1_ivz9dxa wrote

You realize that, even if they built them next to the pad in Florida, that large assemblies are made up of smaller components for thousands of technical reasons, even if you rule out transport logistics.


AdmiralPoopbutt t1_ivy7mcg wrote

They'll probably consult the families and respect their wishes either way.

A previous story mentioned that the families were contacted before the news ran. The production company for the diving operation probably doesn't have contact information for all those people so I assume NASA has been involved for some time.


Iz-kan-reddit t1_ivyw80f wrote

> They'll probably consult the families and respect their wishes either way.

Why? All the bodies were recovered, and every other bit of wreckage that could be found was recovered.

>A previous story mentioned that the families were contacted before the news ran.

Yes, to give them a heads up that Challenger would be back in the news.


truckerslife t1_ivxw41b wrote

When the challenger exploded I was in first grade all the kids were gathered around an old crappy tv and watched it explode. The teacher about had a stroke trying to get to the tv to turn it off.


Nostradamaus_2000 t1_ivydkoc wrote

I still remember the day , sitting in Class when it blew up, and then all the jokes..Why did NASA switch to Coke,? Because they couldn't get 7 up!


Sorasyn t1_ivyhol0 wrote

It will be interesting to see if this eventually makes its way to the KSC museum.


one_dalmatian t1_ivzsbz5 wrote

As I went through reading the title, I kinda thought this would be about USOs. That would've been cool.


Specialist-Car1860 t1_ivxtcv5 wrote

An artifact? Really? That's amazing. What kind? I didn't know they had any artifacts on the Challenger.


truckerslife t1_ivxvkgf wrote

Any chunk left is considered an artifact of the event


Zhrimpy t1_ivx2fii wrote

Trash…in the water? Who cares? Pick it out and shut up.