25 user 9 critic

The Challenger Disaster (2013)

The Challenger (original title)
Factual drama exploring the truth behind the space shuttle Challenger's 1986 disintegration.


James Hawes


Kate Gartside
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Joanne Whalley ... Gweneth Feynman
Brian Dennehy ... Rogers
William Hurt ... Richard Feynman
Bruce Greenwood ... General Kutyna
Kevin McNally ... Mulloy
Meganne Young ... Michelle Feynman (as Megan Young)
Eve Best ... Sally Ride
Henry Goodman ... Dr. Weiss
Langley Kirkwood ... Avionics Engineer
Nick Boraine ... SRB Engineer
Sean Cameron Michael ... Judson Lovingood (as Sean C. Michael)
Liesl Ahlers ... Hotel Receptionist
Stephen Jennings ... Neil Armstrong
Danny Keogh Danny Keogh ... Head Of Recovery
Stevel Marc ... Taxi Driver


When Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds into its flight on the morning of 28 January 1986, it represented one of the most shocking events in the history of American spaceflight. A Presidential Commission was immediately convened to explore what had gone wrong, but with the vast complexity of the space shuttle and so many vested interests involved in the investigation, discovering the truth presented an almost impossible challenge. A truly independent member of the investigation was Richard Feynman. One of the most accomplished scientists of his generation, he worked on the Manhattan Project building the first atom bomb and won the Nobel Prize for his breakthroughs in quantum physics. Feynman deployed exceptional integrity, charm and relentless scientific logic to investigate the secrets of the Shuttle disaster and in doing so, helped make the US Space Programme safer. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History


TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


When Feynman is talking to Bill Graham from his home office, you can see a California vanity plate that partially spells out "TOUVA" on a shelf. Feynman and his friend Ralph Leighton, who transcribed his adventures into the books "Surely You're Joking" and "What Do You Care What Other People Think?" had been on a quest to visit the remote Asian country of Tuva, a country all but inaccessible to Westerners in the late 1980s. Leighton obtained the plate for his car. Sadly, their last, best scheme to reach Tuva fell into place two weeks after Feynman died of stomach cancer. See more »


Each orbiter shuttle was built differently. In the beginning stock launch footage used to represent the telecast for the STS-51L launch (the loss of Challenger) particularly at the moment of main engine start is clearly that of a different vehicle. The tail does not match that of OV-099 Challenger, but rather one of the newer vehicles that used fewer black silica tiles (most likely OV-104 Atlantis). See more »


Rogers: The other commissioners are just being respectful.
Richard Feynman: And you're saying I'm not? You understand the implications of the oxygen being activated? I do. The astronauts had to do that themselves. Which means they were ALIVE for at least some of those two minutes and thirty six seconds before they slammed into the ocean. Mr Rogers I'm an atheist, I personally doubt they're touching the face of God so I prefer to show my respect by finding the CAUSE of their appalling deaths and not stand around looking ...
See more »


Follows Challenger (1990) See more »

User Reviews

Very Good Thriller with a Great Lead Performance
7 December 2013 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

The Challenger Disaster (2013)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Made-for-TV drama based on the investigation by Dr. Richard Feynman (William Hurt) in regards to the Challenger disaster that took place on January 28, 1986. THE CHALLENGER DISASTER is about as good as a movie produced for television can get. It features an amazing performance by Hurt, a story that is quite gripping and it all plays out like a well structured thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat even if the findings of the report are all well-known by this point. What really shocked me about this film is simply how terrific Hurt is. Hurt, at one time, was considered to be one of the greatest actors working but things in his personal life pretty much took all the spotlight and the attention on his skill went away. Watching him perform here was simply amazing because he really does give one of the best performances of the year and if this thing had been made for the theater then an Oscar-nomination would be guaranteed. I thought the performance was downright flawless as this character was so well-rounded and detailed that the actor simply took everything and nailed it. Feynman was battling cancer while also having to deal with the pressure of this case and watching Hurt play both things was simply divine. The supporting players are also extremely good with Bruce Greenwood, Brian Dennehy and Joanne Whalley all delivering strong work. Director James Hawes does a very good job at keeping the viewer on the edge of their seats as he really turns this into a strong thriller. I liked the way that he managed to make you understand the need for certain people to cover up what really happened and I think the film is fair in showing why many feared that the truth might lead to no more space missions. The entire film treats everyone with the highest amount of respect, which makes for a much better movie. THE CHALLENGER DISASTER is without question a highly entertaining film and it contains one of the best performances that you're going to see.

13 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 25 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

16 November 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

73 Seconds: The Challenger Investigation See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page

Recently Viewed