(image: Richard C. Cook)
Reviled at NASA for speaking out, Rick continued his public service career at Treasury and devoted years of personal time to meticulously research and write this important testament from the Challenger disaster.
This is a gut wrenching, extremely well written narrative, which reads like a "thriller", as Publishers Weekly pointed out.
The lessons that Rick has to teach apply not just to Gov space, but to crewed commercial space tourism, and complex enterprises that involve human life.
Cook's hard won Sixteen Lessons are below.
"Sixteen Lessons from the Challenger Disaster." (By Richard Cook)
These would seem to apply to many organizational situations, as well as to events in the news today.
Lesson One: ASSURE ADEQUATE RESOURCES. The space shuttle was chronically underfunded, both while it was being developed and later, after it began to fly, when hardware glitches should have been repaired.
Lesson Two: DESIGN IT RIGHT IN THE FIRST PLACE. NASA knew of design flaws in the solid rocket booster joints which doomed Challenger years before the shuttle ever flew. Once a flawed design is engineered into a product, it is much more difficult to change than if it is caught early-on.
Lesson Three: DON'T OVERREACH. The shuttle was supposed to fly like a scheduled airline to serve every conceivable launch need, including scientific, military, and commercial. This resulted in design compromises and excessive launch schedule pressures." TO READ ALL LESSONS CLICK ON Headline...
Richard C. Cook "is a former federal government analyst who was one of the key figures in the investigation of the space shuttle Challenger disaster.
In 1985, he went to work for NASA as the lead resource analyst for the space shuttle solid rocket boosters, external tank, and Centaur upper stage. Cook’s first assignment led to his writing a memo on engineers’ concerns that flaws with the solid rocket booster O-ring seals could cause the shuttle to blow up. In 1986, after the Challenger disaster, he disrupted a NASA cover-up when he provided his memo, along with other documents on the hazards of the O-rings, to the New York Times. His disclosures paved the way for revelations by engineers from Morton Thiokol, Inc., about how they opposed the launch of Challenger the night before lift-off.
Called to testify before the Presidential Commission at an internationally televised public hearing, Cook stood his ground when his experience and competence were challenged. He continued to contribute to the investigation during interviews with Commission staff and the NASA Office of Inspector General and in meetings with Senator Ernest Hollings, who was trying to raise issues before the Senate on whether there had been White House pressure to launch Challenger.
In addition to extensive interviews with the media after the disaster, Cook published articles in the Washington Post, Washington Monthly, Space and Security News, and the Houston Post; gave a press conference with the Institute of Space and Security Studies, where he said that the Presidential Commission had been created to cover-up the role of the White House in the launch decision; and wrote a report which he submitted to the U.S. Justice Department with a request for a new investigation. In 1991, he was the recipient of the Cavallo Foundation Award for Moral Courage in Business and Government, sharing the award with Roger Boisjoly of Morton Thiokol."-30-