Local author Ben Bova marks the 25th anniversary of the space shuttle disaster, with sadness and anger. He says the disaster that killed 7 astronauts aboard Challenger did not have to happen. He blames political decisions and overly-tight budgets for a shuttle design that had serious flaws.
"This tragedy did not have to happen. The politicians took the lives of 7 astronauts," Bova told WINK News. We spoke with the prolific author at his home in Collier County.
"I always opposed the shuttle design, with the solid fuel rocket boosters. I wanted more of a 'space-plane' design, that could power itself. And it was the boosters that ultimately caused the explosion that doomed Challenger, and killed the brave souls on board," Bova said.
Bova had worked in the aerospace industry and was president of the U.S. Space Society in the 1970's, when the government was deciding the shuttle design. "They didn't give NASA enough money to do it right. You get what you pay for," he said.
Investigators determined that O-rings in the boosters had grown brittle, probably as a result of cold weather, and the leaking fuel caused the explosion that caused Challenger to disintegrate, a few moments after lift-off from Kennedy Space Center.
"I look on this day with sadness. It was a tragedy that was unnecessary," said Bova.