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Bob Ebeling , First to Sound the Alarm Before Fatal Challenger Launch has Found Peace

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posted on Mar, 27 2016 @ 06:13 AM
The morning of the launch Bob Ebeling knew Challenger was heading for disaster , he knew the rubber O-ring seals weren't safe after the cold of the previous night , he knew he needed to raise the alarm and halt the launch.

Bob voiced his concerns to his bosses the morning of launch who persuaded by the argument then organised a conference call with NASA , he helped assemble the data to be presented to NASA as a reason to delay the launch , he believed it was his failure that the launch went ahead and spent the rest of his life blaming himself after NASA dismissed his fears and launched regardless of the safety concerns , his worst fears proved true.

"I think that was one of the mistakes God made," Ebeling told me in January. "He shouldn't have picked me for that job."

"He said, 'The Challenger's going to blow up. Everyone's going to die,' " Serna recalls. "And he was beating his fist on the dashboard. He was frantic." Serna, Ebeling and Boisjoly sat together in a crowded conference room as live video of the launch appeared on a large projection screen. When Challenger exploded, Serna says, "I could feel [Ebeling] trembling. And then he wept — loudly. And then Roger started crying."

Ebeling retired soon after the Challenger disaster. He used his engineering expertise and what he proudly called his love of ducks to help restore a bird refuge near his home that was damaged by floodwater from the Great Salt Lake. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush presented Ebeling with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Award.

Rest in peace Bob , a man of integrity and conscience.

edit on 27-3-2016 by gortex because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 27 2016 @ 04:41 PM
After reading through your NPR link, I could fee Bob Ebeling's pain. It's unfortunate that he carried that guilt for nearly 30 years. Especially since it was not his fault by any stretch of the imagination.

Here's Wikipedia's account of the conference call. Further on, it also adds this bit of information provided by Richard Feynman:

Feynman wrote that while other members of the Commission met with NASA and supplier top management, he sought out the engineers and technicians, which is how he became aware of the O-ring problem.
It sounds to me like NASA was trying to bury this even as the Rogers Commission was doing its investigation. But the main thing I remember was that most of the blame was laid at the feet of that sub-contractor.

I'm glad that Bob Ebeling found some peace regarding this tragedy in the last few weeks of his life. As NPR reviewed the Challenger Disaster on its 30th anniversary, many people sent messages to him trying to convince him that he had done everything humanly possible to stop the launch. Including a couple of people who were clearly more responsible than him:

Ebeling also heard from two of the people who had overruled the engineers back in 1986. Former Thiokol executive Robert Lund and former NASA official George Hardy told him that Challenger was not his burden to bear.

And NASA sent a statement, saying that the deaths of the seven Challenger astronauts served to remind the space agency "to remain vigilant and to listen to those like Mr. Ebeling who have the courage to speak up."

The burden began to lift even as Ebeling's health declined. A few weeks before his death, he thanked those who reached out to him.

Rest In Peace Sir. Your actions on that fateful day should serve as an inspiration for all of us engineers who oftentimes cave to the wishes of our management, much to the detriment of our customers and products.


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