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
This is an extremely well done telling of the investigation surrounding the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986. Despite the fact that we all know the outcome of the findings, there are constantly rising stakes here which help keep you glued to the story.
William Hurt is exceptional as physicist Richard Feynman, a member of the fact-finding commission, who almost single-handedly recognized the cause of the disaster and pushed the commission in the right direction. I did find his failing health issues to be important but overdone. The "peeing blood" and dialysis tended to take me out of the story when I'd already gotten and understood his health problems with the "x-ray" scene.
Brian Dennehy also did a remarkable job of channeling William Rogers (as head of the Challenger fact-finding commission) who from the beginning wants to whitewash the whole the thing. Rogers was the Secretary of State under Richard Nixon which is hardly a vote of confidence for the man and any real neutrality.
Overall, it would seem that history is not going to be kind to the Reagan Administration. The film does bring out facts that were never a part of any official commission findings implying those were repressed for apparently legitimate national security issues of the time. In a nutshell, the Reagan budget cuts caused NASA to promise the military the ability to launch military spy satellites via the shuttles almost on demand instead of the military developing their own new missile. Decidedly, putting temperature restrictions on such shuttle launches would not be something to tell the Soviets about. However, maybe in future years someone will realize that even this was a false concern because the launches would have been from the California coast where freezing temperatures would be almost non-existent.
I highly recommend this film to relive this piece of recent history.
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