The Challenger Launch Decision

By Diane Vaughan,

Book cover of The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA

Book description

When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on January 28, 1986, millions of Americans became bound together in a single, historic moment. Many still vividly remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard about the tragedy. Diane Vaughan recreates the steps leading up to that fateful…

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Why read it?

1 author picked The Challenger Launch Decision as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

What happens when a sociologist who studies white-collar crime and deviant behavior in corporations turns to one of the biggest technological catastrophes of the twentieth century?

Hauntingly, Vaughan finds that there were no evil masterminds, greedy administrators, or risk-taking rebels behind the Challenger launch after all—just a group of highly talented engineers doing their jobs.

I enjoyed her thick description of the routine checks, risk analyses, and exacting reviews that go into engineering a space shuttle, but they’re also deeply unsettling: because she shows us that the certainty that comes from our everyday activities can lead us all astray.


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