Challenger, what have we learned?

30/01/2014

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Reflecting on learning in the aftermath of disaster

There’s been a lot of ink expended on examinations of the causes of the Challenger disaster, whose anniversary passed quietly by yesterday, but are we really the wiser for it?

Certainly the accident did not preclude NASA from having another shuttle accident, just as the Apollo 1 fire did not preclude Challenger. So perhaps the less than comforting lesson is that institutional memory is inherently time limited, fragile and parochial.

As to what lasting lessons we, as a society, have truly learned from from Challenger, I’ll let you be the judge.