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The Shuttle Crash Didn’t Have to Happen

Two years ago, I was a highly decorated NASA engineer. I was awarded their highest medal, for Exceptional Achievement — something that is usually reserved for senior managers — because of my expertise.

I was a safety engineer.

I was removed from my GS-13 position, as an internationally-recognized authority on hypergolic propellants and explosives, and forced off the Kennedy Space Center. At gunpoint.

Their excuse was that I had “abused government equipment.” Because I sent a friend an e-mail joke.

The reality was that I wouldn’t play their “political ball.”

I F-ING WARNED THEM.

I told them that the technicians and engineers were overworked. I told them that there were too many managers and too many meetings and “dog-and-pony” shows. I told them that their senior “face time” play games, while they spent all their time plotting how to give each other pay raises, and left the guys on the floor to struggle day to day with obsolete and overpriced and unqualified equipment, was going to result in another Challenger.

I was there for Challenger.

I saw the same exact conditions happening again. Overpaid, lazy, irresponsible managers concerned solely with their climbing up their ladders.

I told them they were skimping on inspections. I told them that the ground crews were asleep on their feet from exhaustion. I made as much noise as I knew how to make about the top-heavy bureaucracy sitting around in their fancy panelled offices, giving whorish press interviews in their smugness, while they did not have a clue what was going on in the real world where I was working.

They fired me. They fired a GS-13 civil servant, with an Exceptional Service medal and ten dozen commendations. For sending an e-mail joke.

In reality, for objecting to political fat-cats sitting on their fat rear ends and failing to do their jobs.

Like Challenger, those who are most guilty are the ones who will attempt to make the most political capital out of it. But the blame for Columbia lies entirely and totally with the NASA administrators. They should all be investigated for their criminal negligence. They should all serve time in jail.

I warned them. They did their best to destroy me, because I warned them.

It’s too bad that innocent astronauts paid with their lives for NASA managers greed and political ass-kissing.

But I am not surprised.

Two years ago, I warned them.

DIAN HARDISON served as an engineer at NASA.

 

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