Micro Matters: The Aesthetics of Power in NASA’s Flight Readiness Review
This chapter argues that excessive managerial control was a critical factor in determining the Challenger launch decision-making process. It analyzes aesthetic influences on decision-making in the Challenger disaster in terms of micro-level dynamics. The chapter shows that NASA’s Flight Readiness Review was ritualized through the aesthetic techniques of visualization, expectation, and repetition that intensified dependency relations. It focuses on the Flight Readiness Review (FRR) leading up to the Challenger disaster. The chapter explores how the aesthetic theory of politics can contribute to our understanding of the social psychology of large group dynamics, specifically how spectacle can be used to solidify the leader’s control over the group. It discusses the FRR in terms of the way aesthetic images are used for political purposes. The chapter describes the central effects of the FRR were to inculcate fear, demonstrate power, and punish the wayward.