May 2022 Auction Ends Thursday, May 26th, 5pm Pacific


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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/26/2022
Richard Feynman handwritten document from 5-6 February 1986 during his time on the Rogers Commission, established by President Reagan to investigate the cause of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Feynman's role on the Commission was unique as he was determined - with only months to live following his cancer diagnosis - to let the chips fall where they may in unearthing the true causes of the disaster. This put him directly at odds with Chairman William Rogers and President Reagan, both of whom sought to protect NASA's reputation.

Document is titled ''Notes at public meeting Thurs Feb 5'', reading in small part, ''51-L...Didn't fly the graphite epoxy filament yet. / Improve engine lifetime. / Ice Can it fall?...The ice is on the launch pad. / Fuel in Orbiter.'' He then writes ''ET'', acronym for External Tank, followed by detailed notes, including safety factors of 1.25 and 1.4. In the course of his investigation, Feynman was shocked to learn that NASA executives didn't understand the engineering concept of a safety factor, confusing it with a non-catastrophic design flaw. The O-rings, for example, had eroded about 1/3 of the length of the radius in previous tests, which was a design flaw since they shouldn't have eroded at all during normal operation. NASA executives, however, told Feynman that the O-ring safety factor was 3, since the breaking point was the length of the radius.

Feynman then asks in the document, ''Tested for uniform load?''. At the bottom of the page, he writes ''Feb 6'' in the margin, followed by a detailed timeline of the actual crash; he writes, ''Puff of black smoke @ .680 sec...60 sec see plume. Thrust usually rises slightly...Chamber pressure & thrust does not rise. @70 sec...engine decreased output.''

Lined sheet measures 8.5'' x 11'', written in both pencil and black ballpoint pen. Three hole punch on side. Near fine condition.
Richard Feynman Handwritten Document From the Challenger Investigation -- ''...The ice is on the launch pad...''
Richard Feynman Handwritten Document From the Challenger Investigation -- ''...The ice is on the launch pad...''
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Minimum Bid: $8,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $0
Number Bids: 0
Auction closed on Thursday, May 26, 2022.
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