The Most Controversial Ethical Issues Related To NASA

At a glance, NASA appears to be a reputable and reliable source for information when it comes to space and the oddities surrounding it, but that isn’t always the case. For as long as it has been created, NASA has been involved in some pretty controversial ethical issues. More times than necessary, rockets and ships have malfunctioned during missions, costing many people their lives and millions of dollars in research and funding. Some of the most controversial include the Challenger Explosion, the Columbia descent, and the first mission into space: the Apollo 1. The Apollo 1 was the first ever mission to space, and was by far the most dangerous mission in US history. While the astronauts were as prepared as possible for the mission ahead of them, the engineers and scientists behind the mission were far less than prepared.

Unfortunately for the astronauts, the spacecraft was built for the sole purpose of getting the men into outer space before the Soviet Union, so the ship they travelled in was dangerous. The ship was only tested in the Earth’s atmosphere, so the scientists who built the ship didn’t know how well it would fair in outer space. The day the ship was launched into outer space, the men inside were killed almost instantly. The bad publicity that came out of this incident was insurmountable, and the space program was no longer held at high expectations. Until the launch of the Apollo 11, the program’s reputation was tarnished, and people were still unsure about the purpose of NASA and the importance of their research.

The Challenger Explosion was the first NASA mission that had severely malfunctioned and cost the lives of the astronauts on board. At the time of the incident, most scientists and civilians were told that it was just a terrible accident that could not have been prevented; the accident was investigated further, and it was discovered that the O-rings in the shuttle malfunctioned due to the below freezing temperatures when launched. Despite these risks, the scientists in charge of launching the spaceship chose to go ahead with the mission. An engineer who hadn’t signed a confidentiality agreement spoke about the incident and his involvement and discussed how many of the other engineers were purposefully covering up the potential issues with the launch.

The Columbia Explosion was a separate mishap, but was still unfortunate due to the previous incident that occurred. Even after knowing how to prevent the Challenger incident from happening again, the Columbia blew up while descending from a mission. The engineers behind this particular launch knew the exact idea why the descent went awry, but neglected to say anything about the incident, especially with what happened after the Challenger. While in launch, the outer frame of the aircraft was damaged due to returning to Earth’s atmosphere, and the framing was melted due to the extreme temperatures.

01 April 2020
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