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Incredible glimpse into the world of Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman during his time on the Rogers Commission, established by President Reagan to investigate the cause of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. 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.

While the immediate cause of the disaster was the failure of the solid rocket booster O-rings, Feynman found that the culture at NASA discouraged dissent when it came to flight readiness, and executives often overruled the safety concerns of their engineers. What follows in this 7pp. document reads like a mystery novel, as Feynman discovers the ugly truth behind the disaster.

First page of document is titled ''Notes at public meeting Thurs Feb 5'', reading in small part, ''51-L...Improve engine lifetime. / Ice Can it fall?...The ice is on the launch pad...'' He then writes ''ET'', acronym for External Tank, followed by detailed notes, including safety factors of 1.25 and 1.4. He asks, ''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.''

The second page continues with notes from Friday 6 February. Feynman writes, ''Meeting [Donald J.] Kutyna presented way to investigate. Fact Finding done first eg. Time line...Suggests fact find fairly complete before scenario...'' He continues, ''.680 lasts about 1.5 sec on right SRB. When exactly? Get data.''

Then then ventures into politics, writing, ''Rogers worried, as usual, about Press etc and effects of what we might find out. Does not agree we separate course direction & what happened. Then what to do to avoid such accidents in future. We may form small subcommittees. On this Fri we all go to KSC [Kennedy Space Center] to be briefed. No argument for me. 'May as well go to Boston few days' he agrees. [Neil] Armstrong says we can't do detail work to investigate in detail. / I am devastated. I only can do detail work (at least [Donald] Kutyna, [David] Acheson, [Sally] Ride and [Eugene] Covert want to work - Covert offers to help me if I get an assignment.) No assignment.''

Feynman continues writing about his frustration with the Commission, ''I call Graham [William Graham, NASA's Acting Administrator] who understands immediately - suggests trip to anywhere (maybe KSC is delicate since we all go there soon) for example Houston (tracking data) or Huntsville Ala (Engines). He calls Acheson, I choose Houston, Acheson thinks it should be easy - calls Rogers, fails. Rogers calls me to say he doesn't want me to. I explain need for close technical observation of how data & ideas are arrived at. He says no - but gives no apparent reason. Suggests, if I don't like 'let me put you in a nicer hotel' (like 'serve him tea' in London airport). I don't accept. / Graham & Rogers find compromise. I...visit NASA here - he, Graham will get guys together to educate me & talk things over. I say OK, but don't bring guys in who are already overloaded working out there.''

For the next day, Saturday 8 February, Feynman records his meetings with Michael Weeks and others, before writing, ''Rec'd set of pictures. Very clear flame growing from R hand SRB at about zero degrees...and we only see part...establish it is located a little above lower support ring - hence very likely at the joint just above that ring...we had realized in morning when discussing O-ring seal charring and erosion that Eroded single primary seal causes no ultimate catastrophe when secondary seal (originally added for redundancy - and now necessary for pressuring test) also fails OR if there is a leak in pressure seal...a primary seal leak is a catastrophe even if secondary seal holds! / At first told pressure seal is at top - but asked later...told that previous report wrong - seal leak test port is at the bottom and the flame looks like it comes out of that port or near (<2 ft away). / Mike Weeks [deputy associate administrator (technical) for space flight at NASA] gives full discussion of joint. Factory joint seem OK. Field joints have shown erosion failure in 5 of 111 occasions. Nozzle joint (nozzle to last section) showed erosion 25% of the flights (12 of 47)."

Feynman's notes for the next day, 9 February (noted as ''Sunday'') read in part, ''Pleasant visit to Aerospace Museum with Graham family. Kutyna reports NY Times printed leak of same? date Weeks showed me & which we (K & I) were to receive formally at 8 A.M. Monday. Rogers suggests delay until 2 P.M. so he can be there too. (I have asked Graham for data on temperature distributor, temp. effect on O-rings, math models for O-ring erosion calculation, details of leak test port closure method possible pictures of that area before or during take off.) Al Keel, white house, says exec session of Commission to be in EOB [Executive Office Bldg. of the White House] @ 2PM Monday.''

The next day, Monday 10 February, Feynman more fully understands problems with the O-rings. He writes, ''8AM (Graham office with Kutyna). Must figure .275'' diam. O ring more like .25...because of compression set (after having been squeezed for long time & released it has an oval shape and does not return completely to circular). No evidence of how fast compressed seal expands when suddenly released (especially vs. temperature, expect cold is slow), that is whether their are transient openings due to delayed response to changing the swell of gap O-ring is to seal.''

On the verso of this page are what appear to be Feynman's notes about his own health, knowing he had cancer at this point. His hemoglobin levels are recorded ''6 mos ago'', on 2 February and 10 February, along with directions to himself to ''each week get a blood test of Hm Hemoglobin; CREAT; BUN; URIC...Take 5 grain FeSO4 T.I.D.: Allow a touch more salt, more fluids. On return to see [?], hematologist.''

Feynman continues on the next page with more notes for Monday 10 February, the day before his famous televised ''Ice Water Experiment'', as he inches closer towards discovering the immediate cause of the Challenger disaster. He records various dates from 1984-1985 with different numbers likely referencing temperatures. This is most certainly the data sheet given by one of the engineers to Sally Ride, who risked her job to then give it to Donald Kutyna, who passed it to Richard Feynman. It was these tests that NASA hid, showing that performance of the O-rings declined as the temperature dropped. Feynman writes underneath the numbers, ''Best info in last section on O-rings...Thiokol at first claimed they said O-ring not to be used below 50° actual temp 15° Later they changed their mind. I request technical data they used to change their mind...''

The next entry is for 11 February 1986, the day of the televised hearings. Feynman writes, ''Viton [the rubber material] O-rings...O-ring does not show resilience at 39° F. / Question for Mr. Mulloy [Lawrence Mulloy, the NASA SRB project manager who overruled his engineers' objections to the launch]. / 1. Your data say about immediate resilience. / 2. Is it true that low Temp increases chance of O-ring joint failure / 3. Did you have a Temp limit on safety for seals.''

On Wednesday 12 February, Feynman's brief notes read in part, ''Photos / Time Lines!...How to make investigation.'' For 13-14 February he writes KSC [Kennedy Space Center] in the margin, continuing, ''Briefings. Fri get picture...of black smoke...Seems to start (white vapor) on 2nd frame. Two bursts of black going up along rocket. No flame. / Low T (7°, 9°) reported at RH, SRB. / Thiokol McDonald transmits 50° fly decision. Mulloy asks reconsider. Caucus at Thiokol Best seal engineers (Boisjoly [Roger Boisjoly] and [?]) says no. Thio decides yes. McDonald [Allan McDonald, director of Solid Rocket Motors at Morton-Thiokol] want sign but they get fax. signature!''

The last page lists the dates of Saturday 15 February and the following Tuesday. Feynman writes in part, ''KSC. Low temp reading on right hand booster @ 7° and 9°...Probably cold from flow off of ET which is 24° down to -8° from top to bottom. Wind OK direction...Get data. Ask for other flights. Drain Tank. Saw [?] graveyard...ET has pristine parts some next to charred parts - probably all broke aerodynamically and H2 burned (no explosion heard - is this significant?)''. Feynman finishes his notes with a series of ''Questions'', asking, ''For BK Davis [Billy K. Davis, ''Ice Team'' member at NASA] Is this Temp seen before? Get date 51-L and previous. Is H2 tank drained? Is 51-C fail leeward? To whom reported? Does instrument go so low?...''

The most comprehensive set of notes from Richard Feynman's time as Commissioner investigating the Challenger disaster, one of the most consequential events of the latter 20th century, and which would have undoubtedly turned out differently if not for his determined involvement. Six sheets each measure 8.5'' x 11''. Light wear, overall near fine condition. From the estate of Richard Feynman.

Richard Feynman 7pp. Handwritten Document From the Challenger Investigation -- Feynman's Detailed Notes for 13 Days Spanning 5-18 February, Leading Up to & Including Discovery of O-ring FailureRichard Feynman 7pp. Handwritten Document From the Challenger Investigation -- Feynman's Detailed Notes for 13 Days Spanning 5-18 February, Leading Up to & Including Discovery of O-ring FailureRichard Feynman 7pp. Handwritten Document From the Challenger Investigation -- Feynman's Detailed Notes for 13 Days Spanning 5-18 February, Leading Up to & Including Discovery of O-ring FailureRichard Feynman 7pp. Handwritten Document From the Challenger Investigation -- Feynman's Detailed Notes for 13 Days Spanning 5-18 February, Leading Up to & Including Discovery of O-ring Failure
Richard Feynman 7pp. Handwritten Document From the Challenger Investigation -- Feynman's Detailed Notes for 13 Days Spanning 5-18 February, Leading Up to & Including Discovery of O-ring FailureRichard Feynman 7pp. Handwritten Document From the Challenger Investigation -- Feynman's Detailed Notes for 13 Days Spanning 5-18 February, Leading Up to & Including Discovery of O-ring FailureRichard Feynman 7pp. Handwritten Document From the Challenger Investigation -- Feynman's Detailed Notes for 13 Days Spanning 5-18 February, Leading Up to & Including Discovery of O-ring FailureRichard Feynman 7pp. Handwritten Document From the Challenger Investigation -- Feynman's Detailed Notes for 13 Days Spanning 5-18 February, Leading Up to & Including Discovery of O-ring Failure
Richard Feynman 7pp. Handwritten Document From the Challenger Investigation -- Feynman's Detailed Notes for 13 Days Spanning 5-18 February, Leading Up to & Including Discovery of O-ring Failure
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