Monday, July 23, 2012

Rest in Peace, Roger Boisjoly, engineer who battled hard to stop Challenger launch

I've just found out (I know it's rather late) that Roger Boisjoly passed away on the 6th of January this year, aged 73. As someone who's written about the Challenger space shuttle disaster and examined the events closely, I came to respect Mr Boisjoly as a true hero. I'm deeply saddened that he has passed away and it feels like a trusted and dear colleague (though I've never met him) is no more. I've watched several videos in which he's featured, and the strength and courage of his convictions in the face of terrible (both literally and metaphorically) opposition stand out. 

Mr Boisjoly stood up to his managers at Morton Thiokol and NASA the night before the fateful launch. He had also repeatedly warned his bosses that there were problems with the rocket booster O ring seals at cold temperatures.  For stating all this,  he was targeted. According to an obituary in the New York Times, "[H]e paid the stiff price often exacted of whistle-blowers. Thiokol cut him off from space work, and he was shunned by colleagues and managers. A former friend warned him, “If you wreck this company, I’m going to put my kids on your doorstep,” Mr. Boisjoly told The Los Angeles Times in 1987."

"He [Boisjoly] had headaches, double-vision and depression. He yelled at his dog and his daughters and skipped church to avoid people. He filed two suits against Thiokol; both were dismissed."

Imagine the kind of mental trauma - mental torture really - he underwent, all for doing the right thing

Rest in Peace Mr Boisjoly. We will continue your fight. 

Comments? Email me cvdhruve (at)

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