My fiance loves watching documentaries on Netflix. While we were creating our wedding website, my fiance started playing Challenger: The Final Flight as background noise. Instead of contributing to our wedding website, I became enamored with this docuseries.
Challenger: The Final Flight is only four episodes with each episode ranging from 42 – 50 minutes long. The series introduces the astronauts, provides background information before the Challenger launched, footage from the Challenger as it exploded, and the aftermath of the investigation. What happened with the Challenger? Why did it explode and was NASA responsible?
My knowledge of the Challenger explosion was next to none before watching this docuseries. I knew a teacher was on-board and the shuttle exploded shortly before take-off, but that was about the extent of what I knew. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t crying throughout the series. Families, children, NASA , and the United States all watched as the Challenger lifted off and exploded for everyone to see. Relatives turned to each other in shock and held each other as they cried. Students were in awe as they weren’t sure what was happening. Hearing the relatives of the seven astronauts speak as they relive this moment was horrifying. Some of the relatives knew their loved ones couldn’t survive while other relatives tried to deny what had happened.
The Challenger launch was a big deal considering it would be the first teacher in space. Christa McAuliffe was a teacher in New Hampshire who was one of 11,000 applicants who applied. She was the final of ten and was chosen to be the first teacher in space. She took an absence from teaching while she trained to be an astronaut. She had planned to teach two fifteen- minute lessons to students from space. I’m imagining how I would feel if one of my teacher friends was chosen to go into space. I would feel elated for them, but extremely anxious about what could go wrong.
The failure of the O-Rings caused the Challenger’s explosion. The docuseries details how NASA knew about the history of the O-Rings failure since 1977. That’s nine years before the Challenger launched. Richard Feynman, a scientist on the Manhattan Project, was included in the post-investigation. Feynman demonstrated how the O-Rings are more likely to fail in lower temperatures. On the day the Challenger launched, it was 36 degrees.
In my opinion, I do believe NASA is responsible for the destruction of the Challenger. There was evidence citing the O-Rings and their history of failure. I find it odd how the O-Rings weren’t tested under lower temperature conditions. Science doesn’t lie and whenever these incidents happen and people die, it’s human error that doesn’t listen to the evidence.
Challenger: The Final Flight is a heart-wrenching look at what happened with the Challenger explosion. There’s a lot we can learn from this tragedy to make space exploration safer and the importance of analyzing scientific data. Challenger: The Final Flight can be streamed on Netflix.