A realistic move

The postponement of Chandrayaan-2’s launch need not be viewed as a dampener. The ability to identify a malfunctioning component and recognise the attendant risk is as laudable if not more as a successful launch. We need to take lessons from the disaster that befell NASA’s Challenger space shuttle on January 28, 1986 (Editorial, “Waiting for daybreak”, July 16). A design fault in one of its components had been known to NASA scientists. Since, on the day of the launch, the temperature was below the permissible limit, the engineers raised an alarm. However, President Ronald Reagan’s address scheduled for the same evening had included a ‘successful launch’ in its content. To avoid embarrassment, NASA’s management overruled the technical advice. Soon after lift-off, the launch vehicle exploded, killing all the seven crew members. The Rogers Commission concluded that NASA’s organisational culture and decision-making processes were the culprits. Physicist Richard Feynman observed that “for a successful technology, reality must make precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled”. The ISRO team should be congratulated because the presence of the President of India at the launch site did not weigh on them and they placed reality above public relations.

R. Narayanan,



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Printable version | May 12, 2021 1:52:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/a-realistic-move/article28525708.ece

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