Feynman: Challenger's loss 'not an accident'

WASHINGTON -- Rogers Commission member Dr. Richard Feynman says the Challenger explosion was 'not an accident' because NASA management disregarded warnings the same way a child ignores a parent and runs into the street.

Feynman, interviewed on public television's MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour Monday night, said NASA management 'had many, many warnings that there was something wrong' before the Jan. 28 explosion that killed all seven astronauts aboard, but 'the warnings were disregarded.'


Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist from the California Institute of Technology, said the unheeded warnings were similar to 'a child that runs in the road and the parent is very upset and says it's very dangerous.'

'Sooner or later the child gets run over. Is it an accident? No it's not an accident.'

While Feynman said the attitude of National Aeronautics and Space Administration management toward the warnings was 'childish,' he did not blame the agency for the explosion.

'The question is, how do we educate the child?' he said just hours after the Rogers Commission report was issued publicly. 'I tried to figure out why they weren't paying attention. I really don't know the ultimate cause.'

It had been reported that Feynman objected to the final report, but he said 'that's terribly exaggerated. There's no problem.'


William Rogers, chairman of the commission said the panel 'agreed unanimously' on the report.

Rogers and Feynman reportedly clashed when the physicist submitted a chapter to the final report that was more severe in its criticism of the NASA than the chairman thought necessary.

After some discussion and mediation, the chapter was toned down.

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