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You are leaving out data. The same engineers also, during that time, agreed to decisions that the problem had been fixed. Apparently, there was an established mechanism for any engineer working on the shuttle to file some official "bug report" that then would have required a thorough investigation. None of the engineers did, all concerns were voiced through informal channels.

Part of the conclusions of the Challenger post-accident report was that engineers were discouraged from filing such "official bug reports." Informal reports made in a briefing did not require investigation, so they were not discouraged in the same way.

When I visit a NASA center, there are posters up all over saying "If it's not safe, say so." Part of the reason for the 2-year grounding of the Shuttle fleet, post-Challenger, was to put in place a stronger culture of safety at NASA.

A commenter mentioned the false dichotomy of "engineers vs. managers". It's a hard call, as an engineer, to disappoint a manager (or a whole line of managers, all the way up) with a call to solve a possible problem. Civil engineers may be more used to this sort of accountability.

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