The Challenger Disaster is a made for TV BBC Science movie about the inquiry into the explosion of the Challenger shuttle on January 28th, 1986. It stars William Hurt as theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman who is asked to be part of the commission investigating what happened. The movie is based on Feynman's book “What Do You Care What Other People Think?” The Challenger Disaster airs Sunday November 24th at 8 on Discovery and is well worth watching.
The movie makes it clear from the start that the commission's dice were loaded. Bill Rogers (Brian Dennehy) the chair of commission, opens the first meeting by stating the investigation will not be conducted in any way unfairly critical of NASA, that NASA has done an excellent job, and that it may be impossible to identify the cause of the shuttle explosion.
The tone is also set when the commission breaks for five days after its very first meeting. Feynman uses this time going to various NASA locations to get a handle on the elements he is to investigate. He immediately meets with resistance within NASA.
The Challenger Disaster is clever in how it presents the story. The viewer follows Feynman around as he starts investigating possible causes and it is easy to follow his train of thought even if you know nothing about shuttle engineering and such.
The movie is very good at creating at atmosphere of tension and mystery. It makes for great TV.