Challenger Data

Description

On 28 January 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart, 73 seconds into flight. All seven crew members died. The cause of the disaster was the failure of an O-ring on the right solid rocket booster. (O-rings help seal the joints of different segments of the solid rocket boosters.) It is now known that a leading factor in the O-ring failure was the exceptionally low temperature (about 31° F) at the time of the launch.

The Challenger Explosion
Challenger Explosion

The table below gives the temperature (in ° F) at launch and O-ring erosion (in mils) for 22 solid rocket boosters, and is taken from the Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Research

Challenger Data 1
TemperatureErosion
66.00.0
70.053.0
69.00.0
68.00.0
67.00.0
72.00.0
73.00.0
70.00.0
57.040.0
63.00.0
70.028.0
78.00.0
67.00.0
53.048.0
67.00.0
75.00.0
70.00.0
81.00.0
76.00.0
79.00.0
75.00.0
76.00.0

The table below gives the temperature (again in ° F) and O-ring damage index for 23 Space Shuttle launches, and is taken from Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative , by Edward Tufte. The damage index is a severity-weighted total number of incidents of O-ring erosion, heating, and blow-by.

Challenger Data 2
TemperatureDamage
5311
574
584
632
660
670
670
670
680
690
704
700
704
700
720
730
750
754
760
760
780
790
810

Sources

Download Data

Click on the links below to download the data in tab-separated text format. This is a standard formats that can be imported into most statistical and spreadsheet software.