ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
So basically this analysis of the Challenger failure is a much tighter version of what I said in junior high.  Nobody listened to me then.  Nobody is listening to me now; everything is geared toward doing things faster and cheaper.  But if you are in any job where important things going wrong could injure people, wreck the environment, or waste tons of money then please consider this a reminder to go check  your fault tolerances, safety precautions, and emergency supplies.  I know, I know, people think fault tolerance is a huge waste of space and money.  But it's not.  It's the price you pay for having ways to stop an emergency before it becomes a deadly flaming disaster.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-14 02:23 am (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
Actually the rot goes back farther. Congress wouldn't pay for the original design that had liquid fueled boosters.

So NASA (over the objections of engineers) came up with a design using the solid rocket boosters.

I wish *someone* had had the guts to tell Congress that the Challenger disaster was *their* fault. That they can't just decree "make it cheaper" and not have consequences.

Re: Yes ...

Date: 2019-02-14 03:17 am (UTC)
oldtoadwoman: SPN Season 12 title card (SPN)
From: [personal profile] oldtoadwoman
The whole approach America has taken of "faster, cheaper" has turned a once-great manufacturing nation into something that turns out shoddy crap.

Amen. And often to the point where people can only meet quotas by breaking the law. If caught, the bosses always act shocked that anyone was cutting corners or violating safety regulations, but when they give the orders to "do whatever it takes" they are implicitly telling their managers to break the law if needed.

I worked for several years for a company that kept increasing their data entry speed requirements. Our jobs were not supposed to just be data entry. Officially our job description included verifying that the information we were entering into the computer was accurate. If something didn't match, we were supposed to pull the files and verify with the person who signed off on them. By the time I quit, they had upped the quotas to the point where you were not only merely doing raw data entry without taking the time to verify anything, but we were told to "just enter the code you know is right" when information was missing. (We were like rats leaving a sinking ship at that point. Everyone smart enough to recognize what was going on started looking for a new job.)

Six months after I quit the company was out of business.

Re: Yes ...

Date: 2019-02-15 06:27 am (UTC)
oldtoadwoman: (Captain America)
From: [personal profile] oldtoadwoman
>> >>Six months after I quit the company was out of business.<<
>>
>> Well, good.

Out of business and the owner was convicted of fraud. I feel bad for my friends who hadn't quit yet as all the company's assets were seized and no one got their final paycheck. But I still was relieved that he faced actual consequences. (I keep trying to surreptitiously google-stalk him because I think he's out of prison by now, but he must be keeping a low profile because I haven't found anything.)
Edited (spelling) Date: 2019-02-15 06:27 am (UTC)

Re: Yes ...

Date: 2019-02-14 04:36 pm (UTC)
thewayne: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thewayne
It's not just the budget cuts, but the uncertainty of the budget and the constant re-tasking. NASA should be budgeted in 10- or even 20-year increments so they can commit to longer term projects.

We lost astronomers at my wife's observatory because of the NSF not having such long-term budgeting. People were getting antsy about their position and finally said, 'screw this for a game of soldiers' and hared off to other observatories.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-14 08:52 am (UTC)
acelightning: 1950s science fiction rocket in space (rocket)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
First of all, here's Richard Feynman's analysis of the failure of the O-ring. Feynman (who was busy dying of stomach cancer at the time) went to the factory where the solid rocket boosters were built, and talked to the technicians who assembled the boosters - they explained that the O-rings didn't really work quite the way they ought to, and were unsuited for operation in below-freezing temperatures. So it is partly about under-tested design and unquestioned assumptions.

Second, one other major contributing factor to the disaster was the fact that the launch had been delayed several times. President Reagan was scheduled to give his State of the Union address that night, and he expected to have a successful launch to brag about (Instead of the STOTU, he gave a speech about the disaster, and in memory of the lost astronauts.), so nobody wanted to postpone it yet again. So there was pressure on the launch team to go ahead and launch in spite of the previous night's cold weather. So it was also partly about public relations, and making a media stunt out of an endeavor that never could have had an unquestionably positive outcome.

Edited Date: 2019-02-14 08:53 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-14 04:40 pm (UTC)
thewayne: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thewayne
It was a brilliant analysis, and pretty much his last hurrah. His Wikipedia entry says that NASA executives stated that the shuttle's chance of failure was 1 in 100,000 while NASA engineers said 1 in 200. And then that demo that he did in front of Congress!

It's not unlike the Hubble fiasco. They had two instruments for measuring the curvature of the lens and they gave different readings. Rather than figure out why they were different, they just went with one. Turned out that instrument was broken. Thus, we launched a partly blind telescope that cost how many millions to fix.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-15 12:41 am (UTC)
acelightning: shiny purple brain (brain)
From: [personal profile] acelightning
I wish I could have known Feynman - it would have been great fun to hang out with him. And dunking the rubber in a glass of ice water was brilliant! (He always had a very pragmatic and hands-on approach to things, which is one of the reasons I admire him.)<br.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-15 06:39 pm (UTC)
thewayne: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thewayne
I read his Surely You're Joking ages ago and have a couple other of his books. Crazy, brilliant man. I find that's true of a lot of physicists/astrophysicists. We live in New Mexico: my wife's an astronomer/astrophysicist (also crazy and brilliant), and I was told the story of the discoverer of Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh, he moved to Las Cruces and joined New Mexico State University and was instrumental in getting their astronomy department revved up. He came to her observatory and annotated the book he wrote on the discovery of Pluto. Unfortunately I couldn't find that copy, so either it's at main campus or that copy developed legs.

I was at the art museum in 'Cruces a couple of months ago, and they had a recreation of the telescope that Tombaugh made by hand when he was young. He built it on a lawnmower chassis. To me that counts as a nutter.

Re: No ...

Date: 2019-02-15 08:10 pm (UTC)
thewayne: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thewayne

I did a tour at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff 15some years ago for an astronomy class assignment re the discovery of Pluto, and the Pluto Discovery Telescope had a boxing glove on a protruding arm that people kept hitting their head on.  I thought it was pretty cool.  It's like at my wife's observatory, Apache Point, when I started hanging out there when I was visiting before we married.  Instruments are cooled either with liquid nitrogen or with electronic cryogenic coolers.  One of the funnels for pouring LN was cut out of a fruit juice bottle.  I think I have pix of the boxing glove, I should look.

Re: No ...

Date: 2019-02-15 08:46 pm (UTC)
thewayne: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thewayne

I just got the boxing glove photo uploaded.  https://thewayne.dreamwidth.org/1118542.html

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-14 03:22 pm (UTC)
iamnotgod: Many lines curving off into the distance and entangling, shaded in colors from yellow to purple (Default)
From: [personal profile] iamnotgod
Damn, you were a clever young'un; that, or everyone else was just really stupid. :/

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-19 12:25 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Oddly, in my corner of the industry, where the worst that can happen is a temporary financial spat, fault tolerance is considered SOP and is in fact tested every single time we tweak the code.

(We KNOW our shit breaks, so we not only have dual- and triple- and quadruple-redundancy on primary, but we also have a geographically-widely-disparate disaster recovery site. Because somebody just MIGHT flip a nuke at us, but the show must go on.)

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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