It's a slice of history every safety professional should know - the night before the Challenger disaster, engineers at NASA-contractor Morton Thiokol made a recommendation that the launch not proceed. They believed that at the low temperatures being experienced at and forecast for the launch site, booster rocket o-ring performance would be severely degraded. They that that this could (and did) lead to disaster. Dissecting what happened is important from many perspectives. As the scenario played out there was group-think, political influences, confirmation biases, inappropriate interpretation of a lack of data (the absence of evidence etc.). The list goes on.
The lesson today? Courage.
This morning I wouldn't have been able to name any of the engineers who tried to stop the Challenger launch. I knew of such them and have seen, a number of times, their part played out in this reconstruction.
One of them was Roger Boisjoly and yesterday he passed away.
Thanks to twitter and the blogosphere, I've had a chance to read up on him and remind myself of the man who tried to make a difference. Reading about the impact the event had on him was, frankly, depressing. Being able to say "I told you so" isn't a reward, it is not even a solace.
However, I hope that if I am ever in that kind of situation, I show the same courage he did.