RIP: Allan McDonald

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RangerJoe
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RIP: Allan McDonald

Post by RangerJoe »

RIP Allan McDonald
Allan James McDonald (July 9, 1937 – March 6, 2021) was an engineer, aerospace consultant, author[1] and the director of the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Motor Project for Morton-Thiokol, a NASA subcontractor. In January 1986, he refused to sign off on a launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger which broke apart 73 seconds into flight.[2] Deeply affected by the loss of the Challenger astronauts, McDonald endeavored to reveal the truth about the pressures to stay on launch schedule that led to the tragedy.[3] He co-authored Truth, Lies, and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster.[4

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_J._McDonald
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In his lecture, McDonald, who retired from ATK Thiokol Propulsion in 2001 as vice president and technical director for advanced technology programs, discussed some of the important lessons that have come out his experiences. He placed particular emphasis on communication.

"In my career, I don't know how many times people have raised their hand and said, 'This may be a dumb question, but…' I always stood up and said, 'In my entire career I've never, ever heard a dumb question. I've heard a lot of dumb answers," he said.

He also emphasized the importance of feeling comfortable speaking up and offering one's professional opinion. He illustrated that point—and laced it with a bit of humor—when discussing his fateful choice not to sign the launch recommendation.

"I made the smartest decision I made in my lifetime -- I'd say second smartest if my wife was here," he said.

https://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/ne ... m1012.html


Obituaries
Remembering Allan McDonald: He Refused To Approve Challenger Launch, Exposed Cover-Up

March 7, 20213:09 PM ET
McDonald directed the booster rocket project at NASA contractor Morton Thiokol. He was responsible for the two massive rockets, filled with explosive fuel, that lifted space shuttles skyward. He was at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the launch of the Challenger "to approve or disapprove a launch if something came up," he told me in 2016, 30 years after Challenger exploded.

His job was to sign and submit an official form. Sign the form, he believed, and he'd risk the lives of the seven astronauts set to board the spacecraft the next morning. Refuse to sign, and he'd risk his job, his career and the good life he'd built for his wife and four children.

"And I made the smartest decision I ever made in my lifetime," McDonald told me. "I refused to sign it. I just thought we were taking risks we shouldn't be taking."

McDonald persistently cited three reasons for a delay: freezing overnight temperatures that could compromise the booster rocket joints; ice forming on the launchpad and spacecraft that could damage the orbiter heat tiles at launch; and a forecast of rough seas at the booster rocket recovery site.

He also told NASA officials, "If anything happens to this launch, I wouldn't want to be the person that has to stand in front of a board of inquiry to explain why we launched."

Now, 35 years after the Challenger disaster, McDonald's family reports that he died Saturday in Ogden, Utah, after suffering a fall and brain damage. He was 83 years old.
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Twelve days after Challenger exploded, McDonald stood up in a closed hearing of a presidential commission investigating the tragedy. He was "in the cheap seats in the back" when he raised his hand and spoke. He had just heard a NASA official completely gloss over a fundamental fact.
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The NASA official simply said that Thiokol had some concerns but approved the launch. He neglected to say that the approval came only after Thiokol executives, under intense pressure from NASA officials, overruled the engineers.

"I was sitting there thinking that's about as deceiving as anything I ever heard," McDonald recalled. "So ... I said I think this presidential commission should know that Morton Thiokol was so concerned, we recommended not launching below 53 degrees Fahrenheit. And we put that in writing and sent that to NASA."

Former Secretary of State William Rogers chaired the commission and stared into the auditorium, squinting in the direction of the voice.

"I'll never forget Chairman Rogers said, 'Would you please come down here on the floor and repeat what I think I heard?' " McDonald said. . . .

https://www.npr.org/2021/03/07/97453402 ... ket-newtab
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OldSarge
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RE: RIP: Allan McDonald

Post by OldSarge »

Challenger was one of those moments where you remember where you were when it happened.

He opposed the attempt to whitewash the disaster and was initially vilified and even demoted. He stood his ground and demonstrated great personal and moral courage, we could use more like him.

RIP, Allan McDonald
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RangerJoe
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RE: RIP: Allan McDonald

Post by RangerJoe »

ORIGINAL: OldSarge

Challenger was one of those moments where you remember where you were when it happened.

He opposed the attempt to whitewash the disaster and was initially vilified and even demoted. He stood his ground and demonstrated great personal and moral courage, we could use more like him.

RIP, Allan McDonald

I agree and that is one of the reasons why I posted about him. That was even in one of the articles - but Congress got involved and threatened his employer. [X(]

Accidents and other things happen, the only way to fix things is to have an honest appraisal of the situation.
Seek peace but keep your gun handy.

I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are missing!

“Illegitemus non carborundum est (“Don’t let the bastards grind you down”).”
― Julia Child

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rommel222
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RE: RIP: Allan McDonald

Post by rommel222 »

Greetings RangerJoe,
Spot on for Allan McDonald as a true rocket scientist. May he rest in peace.
When I taught college level course in History of Space Exploration he was covered in Space Shuttle development.
His stand with the shuttle disaster investigation is a "profile in courage" against the rest.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/09/us/a ... -dead.html
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Greybriar
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RE: RIP: Allan McDonald

Post by Greybriar »

Rest in peace, Allan.
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RE: RIP: Allan McDonald

Post by joelong9578 »

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Para87
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RE: RIP: Allan McDonald

Post by Para87 »

ORIGINAL: Grognerd_INC

Excellent statements, I do wish there were more like him, a lot more.

I was coming out of the Launch Control Room at Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC-6) going back to the Payload Preparation Room (PPR) when a bunch of folks came out of both buildings screaming about the disaster!


and far less people like Ed Markey who is apparently still around and highly influential...
Markey is a progressive who has focused on climate change and energy policy and was chair of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming from 2007 to 2011. Markey is the Senate author of the Green New Deal.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Markey

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Orm
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RE: RIP: Allan McDonald

Post by Orm »

Thank you, RangerJoe, for telling us.

Rest in Peace, Allan McDonald.
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