Challenger Studies
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AbuTaha's reports on the Challenger accident are rather extensive, and the original reports will be added to this webpage later. Some photos showing unique events can be found in the messages posted on (see below). Other photos and video clips of unique events, that were completely overlooked in all other studies of the accident, will also be added later. These will include clear evidence of the Challenger Crew Cabin after the explosion, the failure of the O-ring seal joint eight-seconds after lift-off, etc. If you are familiar with the Challenger investigations record, you might want to look for, and identify, the dramatic evidence yourself.

Challenger Crew Cabin Again (2009)

I developed a completely different “sequence of events” for Challenger from lift-off to, and beyond, the explosion that we all saw on television. There were many unique events that were missed in all the other investigations. The important events are supported with clear evidence. One event was the real Challenger Crew Cabin (CCC) tumbling far away from all the other debris after the explosion.

In 1986, I discovered that what NASA identified as the CCC after the explosion, in the films, was a piece of debris, and I also captured the real Crew Cabin in the film record. I showed the evidence to a distinguished member of the Rogers Commission, officers from NASA, and others. The subject was emotionally charged then. Everyone thought it better not to release my finding publicly, and I agreed - - -

In the case of the space program, as in the case of the economy and other vital national issues, the Obama Administration was dealt a fold hand: Seat belts designed with wrong evidence for vehicles that don’t exist.

Another Launch Vehicle: Letter to Aviation Week, May 1993

- - -TSTO will have “a substantial performance margin to offset weight gains typically experienced…” Why start with a performance margin only to offset inevitable weight gains? Why the habitual practice: design it, construct it, test it to find out what will fail, redesign it, reconstruct it, redesign, reconstruct, etc.? Why not design it right the first time? Why not construct it right the first time?

For nearly seven years now (1986-1993), I have cautioned that if we continue on the above path, then we are not going to Mars, we are not going back to the moon, and we will hardly make it to low earth orbit; which is where we are today. (Compare this with the present situation in 2009).

What the heck is wrong? Letter to Space News, September 1993

What’s wrong with the space program? William Harwood quotes an unidentified NASA manager, (Space News, August 30, 1993, p.1), “Something isn’t right, and I don’t know what the heck it is.” This is as spontaneous as it can get.

The article offers potential answers: "bad luck," "some generic management problem," "the way the government manages critical contracts," "the nation's reluctance to accept risk," "sophisticated [though unidentified] failures," "putting all its [NASA] eggs in one basket," "the agency's ability to monitor the work of contractors." These are not causes of technical failures. Not even budgets can explain what's going on. The Congress will reconvene soon and ask: What's wrong?

On “The Challenger Launch Decision” by Diane Vaughan, March 1996

Sieff and Ross note that Vaughan is not an expert. Early in her book, Vaughan admitted that she initially thought the O-rings to operate like a “Nurf ball.” It takes guts to admit that. The rest of her book shows that she eventually thoroughly understood the nuances of the infamous joints. How do I know? I did many analyses and tests of joint rotation in the early 1970s, long before NASA discovered the effect in the boosters after 1978.

The following messages were posted on collectSpace in 2007. Some of the postings contain photos of unique events that were overlooked in the other Challenger Studies. You can find the complete colloquy on

collectSpace Post #101 (June 29, 2007)

Hello Mr. Pearlman and everyone. This is Ali AbuTaha (#101).

Ten years ago, someone told me that rude remarks were made about my work and me on the net. I checked it out and decided not to dignify the ill informed, ill qualified and ill-mannered folks, though they belonged to respectable organizations, with answers. I had not heard from Tim Furniss for a number of years and I was happy to hear about his book and his Chapter 10 on the Challenger investigations. I respect Tim for caring about our American space program as if it were his own...

collectSpace Post #102 (July 02, 2007)

This is Ali AbuTaha again (#102)

By now, I have read your postings, navigated collectSpace, and I congratulate you on a professional forum. Forgive me for offending some of you, a natural reaction to attacks. I attribute the present situation to meager hard evidence about my work in your hand.

collectSpace Post #103 (July 05, 2007)

How do you double thrust? I had shown that the nearly doubled loads of the dynamic overshoot hit the Shuttle hard on every mission. Wow! Can the effect be turned into use? Tim wrote about this in Flight, “Pulsing engines could boost Shuttle loads,” September 1992. As Tim reported, I intended to “clamp” and “rectify” FORCE pulses to double the thrust, just as has been done with the “voltage doublers” in electronics many years ago. Anyone who took an introductory electronics course should know about “clamping” and “rectifying” a signal.

collectSpace Post #104 (July 06, 2007)

Fantastic, “mjanovec.” This is the most valuable post so far as it steers the discussion in the right direction. In my present circumstances, this may be the best thing to happen. The other photos in the Commission Report, pp. 34-35, are also relevant to my comments below. That’s exactly my point, the piece marked “Crew Cabin” in the photo is not the Crew Cabin.

collectSpace Post #105 (July 09, 2007)

After nearly 20 years, here is a modest effort and hopefully useful information.

collectSpace Post  #106 (July 09, 2007)

Thank you Hawaii, “Rizz.” One of my projects in the beautiful State in 1975 or 76 helped me to find the Challenger fire at lift-off.

The brightness of the day, intensity of plumes and white colors saturated the cameras. By simply filtering the glow effect, the intense fire became vividly visible. I took pictures of these. The BIS photos mentioned before are shown here.

collectSpace Post #110 (July 13, 2007)

Had the dynamic overshoot problem not been partially corrected for, albeit fortuitously, then fatal accidents would have been the rule, rather than the exception.

collectSpace Post #111 (July 18, 2007)

The following is about the SRB joint that did not rotate and, hence, was not the likely cause of the Challenger accident.

If only the arrows showing the direction of preload with certainty resulted from my work, then it was all worth it. A loose or overly tightened strut could spell disaster. I might add that I had experience with similar simple mistakes, which almost led to serious disasters in different systems.

collectSpace Post #113 (July 20, 2007)

Mr. Pearlman and some of you have raised legitimate concerns regarding the validity of my engineering position, e.g., Day’s

Publish in a peer-reviewed journal and I’ll take this seriously - - -

That effort ended with a plea from a distinguished space authority, Wilbur Pritchard, whose credentials in transient analysis were impeccable. From a previous post, he wrote in April 1992,

At this point, in view of the importance of the issue and in recognition of Mr. Ali AbuTaha’s respectable credentials as a member of the space fraternity, this paper should be published - - -

Also, Galileo had experience with the “horses,” that Professor Covert spoke about above, when he writes in The Assayer:

If reasoning were like hauling I should agree that several reasoners would be worth more than one, just as several horses can haul more sacks of grain than one can. But reasoning is like racing and not like hauling, and a single Arabian steed can outrun a hundred plowhorses - - -

collectSpace Post #114 (July 24, 2007)

I had actually found one of my old Challenger photo albums and began to post some photos on this thread, e.g., the fire below and through the right wing at lift-off. The process was interrupted.

On the same page, the “minimum reusability design objectives” for the Redesigned SRM are given at “19 reuses.” Soon after McDonald’s paper in the learned journal, booster segments on Atlantis failed – badly – after 1 (one) use. I urge Hansen to read my shuttlefactor report.

collectSpace Post #115 (July 30, 2007)

From the sequence you see above, it is evident that the stricken right booster on Challenger was leaking hot gases throughout flight. If you only saw the New Smyrna Beach tape from T+71s (Photo #5), you could easily conclude that all was well. For example, you might think there were two boosters and you see two plumes, i.e., the plume on the right belongs to the left booster and the left plume belongs to the stricken right SRB. Not so. After T+71 seconds (Photo #5), the plume on the right belongs to both the left and right SRBs (the main plume) and the plume on the left is a third plume – the leak trail- - -

A picture is worth a thousand words, and here is such a picture. I had taken a close-up of the 40-second event (Photo #6); and the average of measurements made by the engineers attending my Challenger course at the George Washington University was 10-degrees. You can measure the angle that Challenger made at T+40s directly from my photo with a simple protractor. Is it that simple? Yes. The Shuttle is driven through its center of gravity. When the nozzles turn, the stack turns on a dime, more like a London Cab than a New York Taxi.

collectSpace Post #116 (July 31, 2007)

Between T+50 and T+60 seconds, only one major event is listed in the official “STS 51-L Sequence of Major Events,” (Commission, Vol. I, p. 37): The appearance of “flame on RH SRM” at T+58.788 seconds. Yet for the same interval, I had discovered numerous “Major Events” as described below.

collectSpace Post #117 (August 02, 2007)

Originally posted by kyra:

Can this be timed to the classic launch video where the cameras temporarily lose focus for a second or so?

This is the first time in 21 years someone makes direct connection between the NSB photo events and the focus loss in the TV-feed video. Many people discussed the loss of focus in the continuous coverage on the day of the accident and afterwards. There is correlation, but one must first gather all relevant data.

collectSpace Post #118 (August 05, 2007)

NASA, and NACA before, pioneered the study and photography of shock waves. We used to hunt for shock wave pictures hoping to better understand the complex equations and analysis of supersonic flight. Around June 1987, NASA released a summary videotape of the official Challenger investigation. The narrator said that NASA looked for a “shock wave” from the main explosion that broke the assembly apart, but couldn’t find one. I had found the shock wave that the investigators couldn’t find. My photo and its significance are described here.

collectSpace Post #119 (August 07, 2007)

This is a bit off subject, though necessary, and I hope our Moderator will tolerate it.

As an educator, I feel obligated to make valuable information available to others, particularly young people who might be inspired to do greater things in their lives and the lives of others. It is in that spirit that I took the time to prepare the lengthy posts, and to give a synopsis, answer questions, post photos and specific challenges, and defend myself against thoughtless attacks. As you can see from the above list of works, I really must return to work soon. But I look forward to post relevant messages and answer questions.

collectSpace Post #120 (August 12, 2007)

"I am really aghast at Ali's statement that Conservation of Energy may be invalid. Tell me more."

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