Murphy’s Law

Loss of the Space Shuttle Orbiter Challenger in 1986
Loss of the Space Shuttle Orbiter Challenger in 1986. (Public domain)

Murphy’s Law simply states that “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” (Reference.)

While there are several versions of the law, they all reflect the well-recognized fact that natural variations and human failures should be expected to occur and that appropriate safeguards must be undertaken to limit or prevent any resulting serious consequences.

The tragic losses of the Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia are reminders that space operations are just as susceptible to Murphy’s Law as are terrestrial operations.  Hence, countering Murphy’s gremlin must be an important consideration in planning America’s spacefaring future. Yet, despite the gremlin’s constant presence, humans have made great progress. Why is this and how can this be applied to space?