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The Little Black Book of Decision Making by Michael Nicholas

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1 Let's Get Real: We All Make Mistakes

At 11.38 a.m. on 28 January 1986, the NASA space shuttle Challenger took off from Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Seventy-three seconds later, as it broke up, the liquid hydrogen and oxygen that was by then streaming from its ruptured fuel tanks explosively caught fire and enveloped the rapidly disintegrating spacecraft. The deaths of its seven crew members – including Christa McAuliffe, who would have been the first teacher into space – in such a catastrophic and shockingly visible way may well be the reason why this disaster, despite it having no real impact on the lives of the vast majority of those observing it, became the third fastest spreading news story ever.

Following the accident, ...

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