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The Challenger Disaster

The Challenger Disaster
Award-Winning Cast Including William Hurt, Bruce Greenwood, and Brian Dennehy Star in THE CHALLENGER DISASTER,
on Discovery


The world sat in stunned silence on the morning of January 28, 1986, as the Space Shuttle Challenger tragically exploded in the clear blue sky over Cape Canaveral, Florida. Just 73 seconds into Challenger's 10th mission, the dreams of reaching beyond Earth suffered a horrific setback. THE CHALLENGER DISASTER tells a side of the Challenger story that isn't well known. In the months following the tragic event, a special Presidential Commission worked to determine the explosion's cause in the hopes of making future spaceflight missions safer. Of the 14 commission members from NASA, the military, and other affiliated organizations, one person stood apart as an independent voice: Nobel Prize-winning scientist, Dr. Richard Feynman. A dramatic feature film featuring an all-star cast - including William Hurt, Bruce Greenwood, and Brian Dennehy - THE CHALLENGER DISASTER is the riveting story of Dr. Feynman's role on the Presidential Commission.


William Hurt, Bruce Greenwood, and Brian Dennehy lead an all-star cast in The Challenger Disaster, on Discovery

Based upon Feynman's book What Do You Care What Other People Think?, the film chronicles Feynman's efforts to uncover the cause of the Challenger explosion by deftly navigating the many vested interests represented on the commission, and his ability to quickly learn everything about the vast complexity of the space shuttle.

Feynman was chosen by William Robert Graham, one of his former students and NASA's acting administrator, to lend his skills to the commission. Reluctant to participate, Feynman followed his scientific instincts during the investigation unafraid of raising questions in the face of pressure from several commission members. With unwavering persistence he employed exceptional integrity and scientific logic to determine that two of the shuttle's O-rings failed during launch. In a famous televised hearing, Feynman demonstrated that the O-ring was not as pliable as previously thought by submerging a piece of the O-ring in a glass of ice water. At the investigation's conclusion Feynman produced an essential report, "Appendix F - Personal Observations on the Reliability of the Shuttle," that was presented to President Reagan independent of the commission's official report.

Co-produced by the BBC, THE CHALLENGER DISASTER features powerful performances from an extraordinary cast, headlined by Academy Award-winning a
ctor William Hurt (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Children of a Lesser God, Broadcast News, A History of Violence) as the brilliant physicist Dr. Richard Feynman. Joining Hurt, Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood (Thirteen Days, Star Trek) plays fellow Commissioner U.S. Air Force General Donald Kutyna in the second lead role. They are joined by Brian Dennehy (DEATH OF A SALESMAN, First Blood, Romeo + Juliet) as William Rogers, Chairman of the Presidential Commission; Joanne Whalley (THE BORGIAS, EDGE OF DARKNESS), as Feynman's wife Gweneth, and Eve Best (NURSE JACKIE, The King's Speech, SHACKLETON) as astronaut Sally Ride.

Facts About The Space Shuttle Challenger (Mission STS-51-L):
The Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its 10th mission, and was the 25th shuttle mission overall.
Seven crew members lost their lives including: Teacher-in-Space payload specialist Sharon Christa McAuliffe; payload specialist Gregory Jarvis; and astronauts Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist; Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, mission commander; Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist; Mike J. Smith, pilot; and Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist.
McAuliffe was a social studies teacher from Concord, N.H., who had been chosen from nearly 12,000 American teachers to travel in space.
McAuliffe was part of President Reagan's Teacher in Space Project. She was going to conduct experiments and teach lessons from space that would be broadcast to schoolchildren across the U.S.
Challenger was named after the British Naval research vessel HMS Challenger that sailed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans during the 1870s.
Challenger was the second operational shuttle and made its first flight, STS-6, on April 4, 1983.
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