There's this tweet from Wayne Hale, former NASA Flight Director

Several media people have asked me about how risky STS-1 was. There were a lot of uninformed guesses circulating in 1981. Thirty years later, based on everything we knew, we back calculated the probability of loss of crew and vehicle to be 1 in 9. That is pretty risky.

Why would the loss factor be estimated to be so high? Is there any methodology or report he was referring to here?

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    $\begingroup$ He might answer if you ask on twitter. I'm guessing they looked at all the stuff that went wrong which they didn't expect (sound pressure at liftoff, bad aero, etc) and figured out the chance of that killing them, but that is just a guess. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble May 2 '20 at 1:22
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    $\begingroup$ Pretty poor estimating if you ask me; by my hindsight calculation the risk of losing STS-1 was zero. ;) $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove May 2 '20 at 1:28
  • $\begingroup$ Technically, there were fatalities on STS-1 -- the flight went off OK, but during testing ... that was a different story. $\endgroup$ – Oscar Lanzi May 3 '20 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ Related, but not duplicate: space.stackexchange.com/q/4146/26446 $\endgroup$ – DrSheldon May 4 '20 at 4:37

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