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Accidents, engineering and history at NASA: 1967-2003

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dc.contributor.advisor David A. Mindell. en_US
dc.contributor.author Brown, Alexander F. G. (Alexander Frederic Garder), 1970- en_US
dc.contributor.other Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society. en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2010-05-25T20:56:05Z
dc.date.available 2010-05-25T20:56:05Z
dc.date.copyright 2009 en_US
dc.date.issued 2009 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/55162
dc.description Thesis (Ph. D. in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS))--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Program in Science, Technology and Society, 2009. en_US
dc.description Cataloged from PDF version of thesis. en_US
dc.description Includes bibliographical references (p. 293-320). en_US
dc.description.abstract The manned spaceflight program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has suffered three fatal accidents: one in the Apollo program and two in the Space Transportation System (the Shuttle). These were the fatal fire in Apollo 204 (Apollo 1) in 1967, the explosion of the Solid Rocket Booster in STS-51L (Challenger) in 1986, and the destruction of the orbiter in STS-107 (Columbia). Three astronauts lost their lives in 1967, and in each Shuttle accident seven astronauts were killed. Following each of these fatal accidents, a significant investigation was conducted and a comprehensive investigation report produced. These investigation reports each served to create public narratives of the reasons for the accidents. The reports shaped the accidents' legacies for the space program and for large-scale complex engineering projects more generally. This thesis re-examines the evidence produced to investigate and explain each accident. By analyzing the investigation reports critically, as well as reviewing the accidents themselves, this work considers how engineering cultures and practices at NASA shifted to meet the changing demands of the space program. It argues that the public narratives of the accidents are not completely congruent with the engineering evidence, and that these very selective narratives are influential in shaping future strengths (and weaknesses) at NASA. By re-examining the accident evidence, the reports, and the role of each accident in shaping NASA engineering cultures, the thesis provides a view of engineering very different from what is apparent in previous historical work on the space program. en_US
dc.description.statementofresponsibility by Alexander F.G. Brown. en_US
dc.format.extent 320 p. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology en_US
dc.rights M.I.T. theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission. See provided URL for inquiries about permission. en_US
dc.rights.uri http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/7582 en_US
dc.subject Program in Science, Technology and Society. en_US
dc.title Accidents, engineering and history at NASA: 1967-2003 en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.description.degree Ph.D.in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS en_US
dc.contributor.department Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society. en_US
dc.identifier.oclc 607570236 en_US


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