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November 25, 1988

Challenger: The Final Voyage

Author Affiliations

USAF Hospital Bitburg West Germany

USAF Hospital Bitburg West Germany

JAMA. 1988;260(20):3070-3071. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410200126049

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


The American medical community is an excellent target audience for Richard Lewis' incredibly detailed review of the worst space disaster in this nation's history, the January 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Physicians' scientific curiosity and intellect, combined with their preoccupation with preserving life, are perfect prerequisites for this extraordinary reading.

The author, a highly informed space writer and editor, expertly weaves into this tale of technological misadventure a sense of humanism through the heroic dedication of the seven astronauts who lost their lives in the accident. Three striking characteristics of this book, in addition to its authenticity, are (1) the volume of transcribed dialogue from the cockpit and mission control, as well as from the investigation by the Rogers Commission; (2) the in-depth descriptive analysis of the O-ring failure; and (3) the superb illustrations.

The opening chapter sets the dramatic tone with interesting commentary on the weather conditions,