Case Study 1: The Challenger Space Shuttle
One of the saddest days in the history of America’s space program was January 28, 1986, the day that the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded. Six astronauts and a school teacher, Christa McAuliffe, died when the shuttle exploded 73 seconds after liftoff. The nation, transfixed and confused, watched the disaster on their television sets, wondering how something that seemed so good could have pivoted so quickly into terror. How could it have happened?
On January 24, 1985, Roger Boisjoly, chief engineer at Morton Thiokol, watched the launch of Flight 51-C and noted that the temperature that day was much cooler than it had been during other recorded launches. When he inspected the solid rocket boosters, he found that “both the primary and secondary-ring seals on a field joint had been blackened” from what he thought might be severe hot gas blowby related to low temperatures (Biosjoly and Curtis, p.9). Boisjoly presented his findings to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and received tough questioning from the Flight Readiness Review committee. He decided that he needed further evidence before he could positively link low temperatures with hot gas blowby. He further studied the effects of temperature on the seals of Flight 51-B and found that, in fact, there was a direct correlation between low temperatures and the chance for a catastrophe to result (Biosjoly and Curtis 1987, 9-10).
During the following months, Biosjoly felt frustrated that management did not seem to be listening to him about the problem he had discovered. On January 27 (the day before the Challenger disaster), the predicted temperature for the launch was 18 degrees Fahrenheit. This low temperature prompted Morton Thiokol, the Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Kennedy Space Center to discuss their concerns about the safety of the launch since no shuttle had ever been launched at a temperature lower than 53 degrees Fahrenheit. Biosjoly again stated his concern that the O-rings on the shuttle’s solid rocket boosters would stiffen in the cold and lose their ability to act as a seal, potentially causing a fatal disaster (Schlager 1994, 611).
After the meeting, Biosjoly returned to his office and created the following journal entry:
I sincerely hope that this launch does not result in a catastrophe. I personally do not agree with some of the statements made stating that SRM-25 is okay to fly tomorrow (Biosjoly and Curtis 1987, 13).
On January 28, 1986, as Biosjoly and his engineering team had predicted, the Challenger exploded, and all of those on board died. As the nation mourned, the Rogers Commission was formed to investigate the reason for the explosion. Research after the fact showed that there was “a failure in the joint between the two lower segments of the right Solid Rocket Motor (i.e.) the destruction of the seals that are intended to prevent hot gas from leaking through the joint during the propellant burn…” (Presidential Commission 1986). It was a tragic technological disaster that could have been prevented. The seal had leaked because the booster was used at a temperature below its range of safe operation, something that Roger Biosjoly had tried to warn management about (Westrum 1991, 132).
The experience of Roger Biosjoly is representative of what whistle-blowers often face when they make a moral decision to tell the truth. Their truths are based on their own perceptions, values, and morals; the question is why others do not choose to listen or act upon their recommendations.

Case study response/answer should include basic elements such as: overview, analysis (any problems or causes, etc…), theories and evidence (link or integrate), formulated opinions and perspectives (providing any supporting information), and etc.

Your document should contain:
• Title Page (indicating case study number and title)
• Case Study Answer / Response

Introduction: {Overview – Your opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the entire case study.}
Major Problems: (Research, analysis, evidence, theory. What are the major problems? Explain.)
Underlying Problems: (Again, research, analysis, evidence, theory. What are the underlying problems? Explain.)
Solutions: (Ex: What are possible solutions that could resolve the problem(s) or prevent the problem(s) from occurring again? Explain advantages, disadvantages, and etc.)
Recommendations: (Of the many possible solutions you may have presented/considered – which one(s) do you recommend – build a defense for your choice(s)/decision(s).)
Conclusions: (What have you concluded from all you have learned? Explain.)

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