The Challenger Disaster Image

However, a confession as well: throughout the film I found myself wishing the production value would suddenly scale up by a hundred orders of magnitude, and Tom Hanks would appear running down a hallway demanding to talk to someone at NASA, as he did in Apollo 13 and From the Earth to the Moon.

One of the side effects of the low budget is that very few of the people/entities are named directly; one would assume to avoid legal entanglements. The whistleblower named Adam (Eric Hanson) in the film is probably meant to portray Bob Ebeling. The company he worked for is Morton Thiokol. It is distracting that there are no logos anywhere in the office. If you’ve ever been to a manufacturing facility, especially aerospace, especially government (NASA, Military) contractors, these people love giant signage and logos.

“…former LSU head coach Les Miles as a NASA program manager hell-bent on launching the Challenger.

The cast delivers, and they should, many of them you’ve seen before: Dean Cain from Lois and Clark, Cameron Arnett, Glenn Morshower, Garry Nation. Even the relatively unknown actors turn in praiseworthy performances (despite some early mugging and overacting, everyone settles into a nice groove as the film progresses).  

Look for former LSU head coach Les Miles as a NASA program manager hell-bent on launching the Challenger.

I suspect conversations and discussions like those in the film did happen. What boggles the mind is trying to imagine a mission program manager hearing a materials engineer telling him that the rubber in a seal had never been tested when it’s frozen and the NASA man concludes that lack of data is data and therefore it’s a risk worth taking to green-light the launch.

Worse: in this version of events the NASA manager asks him to prove with quantified data that the seal will fail. This is literally not rocket science: anyone who’s pulled Tupperware out of the freezer knows that plastics get brittle as the temperature drops. They actually have a state called glass-transition, which is pretty self-explanatory. How do you not take a look at the weather and move the launch to the afternoon when the temp goes up? Later that same day the temperature at Cape Canaveral went up to 48 degrees.

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  1. says:

    In San Antonio, Texas, Scobee Elementary School opened in 1987, the year after the disaster. Students at the school are referred to as “Challengers”. An elementary school in Nogales, Arizona, commemorates the accident in name, Challenger Elementary School, and their school motto, “Reach for the sky”. The suburbs of Seattle, Washington are home to Challenger Elementary School in Issaquah, Washington

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