Small Things Cause Big Problems
The U.S. News and World Report, commenting on a delay in the space shuttle Columbias second flight, pointed out that little things have often been the cause of big difficulties in the space program. The reason for the postponement was a clogged hydraulic-system filter. Officials reported that the 5 quarts of oil needed for a change was worth only about $25. Yet the setback cost American taxpayers approximately $3 million a day. On another occasion, a costly satellite was lost because a punctuation mark was omitted from its computer program. And the cause for aborting an Apollo 13 moon landing in 1970 was a short circuit caused by a piece of wire worth about 50 cents.