74 Engineering Ethics: An Industrial Perspective
Accident. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1987. www.history.nasa.gov/
Rogers Commission, Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle
Challenger Accident, vol 1. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1986.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Of the eight ethical dilemmas presented in Chapter 1, which were present
in the events leading to the Challenger explosion and its aftermath?
2. Conduct a cost-benefit analysis regarding whether the Challenger should
have launched on the morning of January 2, 1986.
3. Should an engineer ever take off his or her management hat?
4. According to the Rogers Commission,
The Commission was surprised to realize after many hours of testimony
that NASA’s safety staff was never mentioned. No witness related the
approval or disapproval of the reliability engineers, and none expressed the
satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the quality assurance staff. No one thought to
invite a safety representative or a reliability and quality assurance engineer to
the January 27, 1986, teleconference between Marshall and Thiokol. (Rogers
How would a strong safety program within NASA have affected the
launch discussions on January 27?
5. For many Americans in their forties, the Challenger explosion is the
“Kennedy assassination” of their generation. They remember what they
were doing when they first heard about the explosion. Why wasn’t this
disaster enough to prevent the subsequent explosion of the Columbia in
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