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Challenger Revealed: An Insider's Account of How the Reagan Administration Caused the Greatest Tragedy of the Space Age [Kindle Edition]

Richard C. Cook
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $19.99

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Book Description

The Reagan Administration pushed hard for NASA to launch shuttle mission 51L, before it was ready. 73 seconds into the launch, the shuttle exploded, killing seven people and leaving a nation traumatized.
Richard Cook, the lead resource analyst at NASA for the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs), was the first to warn of possible catastrophic failure. His memo, which detailed astronaut concerns and warnings from the shuttle builders at Morton Thiokol, were ignored by top NASA officials and members of the Reagan administration.
In the aftermath of the explosion, NASA launched an investigation to “discover” the cause of the disaster. Though within NASA there was absolute certainty about the O-ring joint failure, they began a cover-up by publicly proclaiming that the cause of the explosion was unknown. A Reagan administration Commission perpetrated the same lie. And when Richard Cook realized that the Commission was not interested in revealing the truth, he acted as a true patriot and hero and leaked the original O-ring warning documents to the New York Times. His article set off a cascade of disclosures about the events leading up to the disaster, including revelations by Morton Thiokol engineers that they had tried to stop the launch.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A gripping true-life thriller that describes the struggle to discover and disseminate the truth about the 1986 destruction of the space shuttle Challenger, this book provides new and startling material, presented in a spellbinding narrative with direct relevance to the current state of the US government. Former NASA resource analyst Cook, whose long public service record includes 20 years at the Treasury Department, rocketed from anonymous bureaucrat to public fame during the Challenger investigation, and later was awarded the Cavallo Foundation's Award for Moral Courage in Business and Government, for his efforts to uncover the facts about the faulty O-ring seals that led the shuttle's solid rocket boosters to explode. Easily the most informative and important book on the disaster, Cook's work is meticulously documented, augmenting his own insider knowledge with transcripts, memoranda, reports and interviews to provide the first truly comprehensive book on what happened on January 28, 1986, and why. Tracing the history of the space shuttle's design and development, Cook leads readers step-by-step, decision-by-decision to the tragic event. Rather than an accident, Cook concludes that the disaster was the result of Reagan's autocratic management style and closed-door decision-making process. Further documentation shows how the Rogers Commission, charged with investigating the explosion, was conceived as part of a cover-up effort, which also included collusion by some NASA managers, White House operatives and commission head William Rogers. By focusing solely on equipment malfunctions and internal NASA decision-making, it seems that Rogers evaded the most important question: why was it so important to those in power to launch the shuttle on that day? This account, featuring many players still working in government today, is essential reading on the topics of NASA and US government obfuscation.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In the days following the space shuttle Challenger disaster of 1986, Cook, then a budget analyst at NASA, leaked documents to theNew York Times. The papers acquired significance for predicting that faulty rubber seals on the solid fuel rockets could trigger a catastrophe, as the official investigation indeed concluded. In this memoir and personal investigation, Cook justifies his leak, or, from another perspective, his violation of trust, and proposes a theory for why NASA managers launched after overruling objections from the rocket engineers. It is this: President Ronald Reagan wanted Challenger in orbit with teacher Christine McAuliffe so that he could speak with her live during his State of the Union speech. Cook amasses technical evidence about violations of launch criteria, telephone calls between NASA and the White House, and hearsay from an astrologer who, Cook reports, said he was told personally by Reagan that he decided to launch. Whether Cook is holding a blank or a smoking gun, his book is sure to provoke controversy. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 5299 KB
  • Print Length: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (April 27, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #956,421 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Important Spaceflight Book in 20 Years March 27, 2007
In the history of American manned spaceflight, it seems that major catastrophes occur about once every 15 to 20 years. The first happened on January 27, 1967, when an electrical fire broke out inside the Apollo 1 spacecraft during a ground test on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy. Fed by the high-pressure pure oxygen cabin atmosphere that caused flammable items such as Velcro to burn with incendiary intensity, the fire claimed the lives of astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee. The latest disaster was, of course, the loss of space shuttle orbiter Columbia and its seven-astronaut crew on February 1, 2003. Columbia broke up during re-entry because superheated plasma entered a hole in the leading edge of the left wing--a hole that had been punched by a piece of insulation foam that had come off of the external tank during launch.

In between these two disasters was another one--the explosion of space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986, just 73 seconds after lifting off with a seven-person crew that included schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, the first "citizen in space." In the intervening 20 years, there have been many excellent books written about Challenger. If you read any of them, you'll gain a good "nuts-and-bolts" understanding of why Challenger exploded. There is no disagreement on the technical facts: the rubber O-rings in a field joint on the right-hand Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) failed to seal because unusually low overnight temperatures at the Cape had chilled them so much that they lost their resiliency. Hot gas from inside the motor leaked out through the joint and eventually eroded a hole in the side of the SRB case, dooming Challenger and her crew.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Challenger crew might have survived ... March 15, 2007
NASA was a proud organization made up of some the best scientists and engineers in the world but it is clear that NASA has some the worse managers in relation to the development and flight history of the space shuttle.

As Mr. Cook's book states, NASA sacrificed everything to develop a space flight system that could meet the military's need for a `heavy lift space vehicle' which meant they created a spaceship that did not have a first-stage abort system that doomed the Challenger crew (a generation ago).

Mr. Cook's book correctly states...For the first time in NASA's history, they neglected the lives of their astronauts by creating a space flight system that did not give a crew the chance to escape during the launch phase of a flight because creating a launch phase abort system was too expensive and would reduce the lift capability of the shuttle and thereby making it useless to the US military. In addition to this, NASA knew the shuttle's SRB's were not performing as expected but they continued to fly the shuttle because they wanted to show the world that NASA could meet any demands civilian, scientific, or military at the expense of human life and good engineering judgment.

If NASA had developed a first stage abort option into the shuttle it would not have met the military's needs (lift-capabilities) so an escape structure was not designed into the shuttle system to save money and increase the shuttle's military options.

Mr. Cook's book correctly states that NASA wanted to meet the needs of the defense department at the expense of safely and common sense. The Challenger crew might have survived if a first stage abort option was part of the shuttle's design.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Anyone in government or commercial space who dares to send humans into space, needs to set aside time to read Challenger Revealed, a new book by Richard C. Cook.

Cook knowingly gave up his promising NASA career and his preferred everyman status, in order to tell the truth as a key witness in the Challenger investigation.

Reviled by some at NASA for speaking out, Richard continued his public service career at Treasury and devoted years of personal time to meticulously research and write this important testament from the Challenger disaster.

This is a gut wrenching, extremely well written narrative, which reads like a non-fiction techno mystery, with a great deal of personal revelations from Cook himself. Cook's conclusions and research reach into the heart of darkness surrounding the loss of Challenger- how much did political influence impact the launch?

The murky relationship between political agendas and space policy is a subject that benefits from Cook's research, even if the conclusion he reaches is as surprising as it will be controversial. Cook's discovery of missing evidence in the national archive system was a jolt for this reader and raises more questions about the entire affair.

The lessons that Cook has to teach apply not just to Gov space, but to crewed commercial space tourism, and complex enterprises that involve human life.

This political analysis is also an important addition to the thinking about the causations of disasters in large organizations, and compliments the work done with respect to "normalization of deviance" by others in works on the subject of Challenger.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish
Being involved with defense aeronautics, I was briefed on this disaster from astronauts and Space Shuttle commanders who were involved at the time. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mike A
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book which challenges the reader to think critically and...
Since several other readers have already done an excellent job of reviewing this book (please refer mainly to the reviews from 2007), I will make a sincere and pithy attempt to... Read more
Published 6 months ago by PeeBrain
1.0 out of 5 stars Boo to the max.
Self inflated pompous author. Terrible book. There are good books about challenger out there. Don't mistake this for one. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Richard B
1.0 out of 5 stars Another Book Designed to Defame Reagan and Make NASA Look Like the...
The Reagan administration DID NOT cause this catastrophe. NASA did. Their mismanagement and arrogance caused this tragedy. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Classic Film Lover
2.0 out of 5 stars Hardly an unbiased book.
The book had all the relevant pieces of the puzzle, but then injected the author's own prejudices into the formula to create an explanation that is almost completely wrong. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mentor397
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive volume on the Challenger disaster!
I think a previous reviewer has summed it up better than I ever could, but I just want to add my own thoughts and feelings.

This book is simply fascinating. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Dave C
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read for Those Researching Challenger Disaster
Since the Russians put the first man in space there have been politics involved to some extent in space missions. Read more
Published on March 31, 2011 by Catamaran'78
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenger Disaster a Show Biz Casualty?
I wish I could source it, but a few years ago I saw some reporting (from the BBC or one of the UK papers, I want to say) that examined claims the Reagan administration pushed for... Read more
Published on October 16, 2010 by J. Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars If Only Most Workers Had This Kind of Principle
For a non-engineer, Mr. Cooke did excellent work as a budget analyst at NASA - a little too smart and conscientious for his bureaucratic britches, as most whistle-blowers are. Read more
Published on February 3, 2010 by Chris N
5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing how America's Institutions are Controlled by Hidden Agendas
It is remarkable to me how few Americans are aware that our nation's most respected institutions have been compromised from their respective missions for serving the public. Read more
Published on August 11, 2009 by Robert T. Fischer
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More About the Author

In 1960, Richard C. Cook moved with his family to Williamsburg, VA, where he spent his formative years in the restored colonial capital. In 1970 Cook graduated from the College of William and Mary, the alma mater of Thomas Jefferson, receiving a degree with honors and election to Phi Beta Kappa. He then came to Washington, D.C., to study the Gurdjieff Work and serve as an analyst with the federal government.

Cook continued his study of the world's spiritual teachings over the next forty years, working with several realized masters, including Hugh Ripman, Abdullah Dougan, Pir Vilayat Khan, Sri Chinmoy, Swami Satchidananda of Kerala, India, and Sri Shivabalayogi. His dharma name is Ramcharandas, which means, "Servant of the Feet of God."

With the federal government, Cook first worked on the policy staff of the U.S. Civil Service Commission followed by the Food and Drug Administration.

Having been promoted to the Jimmy Carter White House, he served under Esther Peterson, Carter's special assistant for consumer affairs. He witnessed first-hand how the Federal Reserve crashed the U.S. producing economy by engineering the recession of 1979-83. This was the start of the total takeover and subversion of the economy by the big bankers and Wall Street. One result of the recession was Carter's loss to Ronald Reagan in the election of 1980.

Cook left Washington to operate a farm he purchased in West Virginia. Returning to Washington in 1985, Cook went to work for NASA as an analyst on the space shuttle program. While there he warned of a possible disaster due to faulty O-ring joints in the solid rocket boosters. The disaster came to pass with the loss of Challenger and seven American astronauts in January 1986. Cook then told the investigating commission and the press that NASA had known of this problem for years.

Moving to the U.S. Treasury department for over two decades, Cook saw how electronic funds transfer created even more wealth and power for the banking system, laying the groundwork for the gigantic financial bubbles and crashes that have dominated the economy for a generation. Upon retirement in 2007, Cook wrote articles predicting the crash of 2008. He has also advocated for a basic income guarantee and in 2011, speaking on the Riviera Maya, introduced his Gaia Plan for a guaranteed income for all people.

Cook has published three books previously: In the Footsteps of the Yogi on his experiences with Sri Shivabalayogi; Challenger Revealed on his time as a whistleblower with NASA; and We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform on how to change the financial system. Cook and his wife Karen now live in Roanoke, VA, where they teach meditation and spirituality.
He is an ordained minister with the Sanctuary of the Beloved and Order of Melchizedek, a non-denominational healing and teaching order that works within the community.

In his latest book, Return of the Aeons: The Planetary Spiritual Ascension, Cook confronts the central topic of our day: the predicted "End Times." He says the Ascension is real but that it applies to all human beings, not just a select few. He says planet earth has already moved to higher consciousness within the galaxy and that people have the opportunity to move with it through raising their own vibration. He says all man-made structures that rely on the human ego for their source of authority will perish.

Cook says further that the Divine Beings known in ancient times as the Aeons are here and available to guide us, including the Divine Mother and Jeshua ben Joseph, a.k.a., Jesus Christ. He says he is in daily communication with these beings and that they have given him the messages he now conveys to humanity. Divine Mother has also communicated an epilogue for the book.

Return of the Aeons: The Planetary Spiritual Ascension by Richard C. Cook is being published by CreateSpace, an Amazon Company. Richard C. Cook is available for public speaking and may be contacted through his website at or via email at

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