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Mark Maier NASA Challenger disaster collection

Identifier: 2010-002-r

Scope and Contents

This collection holds videos, images, and transcripts regarding the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. A/V materials include NASA footage and programs on the Challenger accident. There are videos of the Presidential Commission hearings from February 25 to February 27, 1986, as well as transcripts from the Presidential Commission Report. Videotaped lectures by and interviews with Roger Boisjoly on workplace ethics are also included.

Other materials are interview transcripts of and articles by Richard Cook, posters with various Challenger images, a Florida license plate, and papers from Professor Mark Maier regarding the disaster. A noteworthy item is an O-Ring sample.


  • 1985 - 2006
  • 1986

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

Biographical / Historical

The NASA Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986 when Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. Disintegration of the entire vehicle began after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster failed at liftoff. The disaster resulted in the formation of the Rogers Commission, a special commission appointed by United States President Ronald Reagan to investigate the accident. The Presidential Commission found that NASA's organizational culture and decision-making processes had been a key contributing factor to the accident. NASA managers had known that contractor Morton Thiokol's design of the solid rocket boosters contained a potentially catastrophic flaw in the O-rings, but they failed to address it properly. They also disregarded warnings from engineers about the dangers of launching posed by the low temperatures of that morning.

Roger Boisjoly, an engineer who worked for Morton Thiokol, raised objections to the launch of the Challenger. In July 1985, Boisjoly wrote a memo to his superiors concerning the faulty design of the solid rocket boosters that, if left unaddressed, could lead to a catastrophic event, which was apparently ignored. Following the announcement that the Challenger mission was confirmed for January 28, 1986, Boisjoly and his colleagues tried to stop the flight. Temperatures were due to be −1 °C overnight. He felt that this would severely compromise the safety of the O-Ring. Boisjoly was one of the witnesses called during the Presidential Commission hearings. He gave accounts of how and why he felt the O-Rings had failed. Boisjoly later became a speaker on workplace ethics.

Richard C. Cook was a Resource Analyst at NASA's Comptroller's Office. NASA officials ignored a memo Cook wrote which detailed engineering concerns and warnings from the shuttle builders at Morton Thiokol regarding a flaw in the SRB O-rings. In 2007, his memoirs of the tragedy were published in a book entitled, Challenger Revealed: An Insider’s Account of How the Reagan Administration Caused the Greatest Tragedy of the Space Age.

Mark Maier, Ph. D is Associate Professor and Program Chair, Leadership and Organization Studies; Director, The Chapman Leadership Project; Director, Chapman Human Diversity Program. As a professor at Chapman University, his areas of teaching and consulting expertise include: servant-leadership, diversity, team development and ethical decision making.


6.5 Linear Feet (5 cartons, 1 document box, 1 flat box)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of a number of videotapes, objects, and some text material collected by Professor Mark Maier that deal with the NASA Challenger disaster and its aftermath.


This collection is organized into six series:
  • Series 1, Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident
  • Series 2, Challenger disaster videos
  • Series 3, Roger Boisjoly interviews, articles, and photo
  • Series 4, Richard Cook interviews, articles, and photo
  • Series 5, Mark Maier Challenger disaster papers
  • Series 6, Space Shuttle Challenger ephemera

Physical Location

Leatherby Libraries

Related Materials

Researchers will also find of interest the Roger Boisjoly NASA Challenger Disaster Collection (2010.17.r) as it contains his personal papers as well as extensive material on the Challenger investigation.
Finding Aid for the Mark Maier NASA Challenger disaster collection
Jenny Esteron, Rand Boyd
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives, Leatherby Libraries Repository

Chapman University
One University Drive
Orange 92866 USA US