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The Nation : Shuttle O-Rings Backed

May 31, 1987

The original O-ring shuttle materials blamed for failing and causing the 1986 Challenger disaster appear to be superior to other seals, a Morton Thiokol Inc. official said. Tests involving Vitron and O-rings made from other rubber-like seals between joints in the solid-fuel booster rockets indicate Vitron performs better, Carver Kennedy, the head of the firm's redesign program, said at its headquarters at Brigham City, Utah. Officials determined that because of near-freezing temperatures at the time of Challenger's launch, the Vitron O-rings failed to properly seal joints between booster rocket segments. But Kennedy said Morton Thiokol has built heaters into its redesigned rockets, and resiliency problems have "virtually been eliminated."

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