exceptionally fragile (it could be broken by falling foam from the Shuttle’s external fuel tank)
Dreams of Mars
Mercurial Autumn

Well, that’s not entirely fair. That foam is impacting the shuttle while it is traveling faster than the speed of sound. Even the lowest mass objects have a great deal of energy at these velocities. Simultaneously, this was not the only instance of a foam impact. When they reviewed footage from previous launches, they found evidence of impacts in a large number of them — but only one resulted in an accident.

This doesn’t excuse the failure, but you can’t claim that it wasn’t a freak accident either.

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