Posted: March 24th, 2023

The Johnstown Flood Accident and the Space Shuttle Challenger

The Johnstown Flood Accident and the Space Shuttle Challenger event exhibit many similarities in many American historical accidents. The two events are comparable because they had significant adverse effects on the public. In fact, both disasters caused damages, including private and public properties as well as death. For instance, the Space Shuttle Challenge left seven astronauts dead, including a schoolteacher who was being initiated into space programs for the benefit of American students (Campbell, 2008). On the other hand, the Johnstown Flood left at least 2,209 people dead and property worth of millions destroyed.

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Another issue reflected in both cases is an aspect of negligence. For instance, the South Fork Club manager only realized that the spillway was blocked after a night of torrential rains while he knew that this kind of technical hitch would cause extensive damage in case of an overflow. However, on realizing the impending danger, John Parke tried to communicate with authorities. In this case, Johnstown refused to heed his warning and instead took it as a typical false alarm from the South Fork Club.

On the other hand, the Challenger was not technically prepared for a sensitive flight like that of January 28, considering that earlier, it had been diagnosed and repaired for a damaged engine and a crack on the left wing. Indeed, on that fateful day, the junior engineers tried to warn the senior NASA officials that despite the repairs, it would be dangerous to launch the Challenger since it was extremely cold as the O-ring seals would disintegrate and cause a massive damage (Newton-Matza, 2014). However, despite this warning, the Space Shuttle Challenger was launched and blew up in the American air within two minutes and seventy-eight seconds. Therefore, it is evident that both accidents are similar in that they happened due to negligence, negatively affected the entire US, damaged property, and caused unforgettable deaths.



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Campbell, B. C. (2008). Disasters, accidents, and crises in American history: A reference guide to the nation’s most catastrophic events. New York: Facts On File.

Newton-Matza, M. (2014). Disasters and tragic events: An encyclopedia of catastrophes in American history. California: ABC-CLIO.


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