Challenger: The Final Flight (Netflix)

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: Government bureaucracy led to a tragedy? You don’t say.

Quick synopsis: The story of NASA’s 1986 Challenger disaster.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: The disaster occurred because of large rubber O-rings. The morning of the launch, the manufacturer of the solid rocket booster needed to be browbeaten by NASA into supporting the launch.

Fun Fact for History Nerds: Christa McAuliffe, the teacher on the flight, was not the first non-NASA astronaut headed for space. A senator and congressman had been on previous flights.

My Take: It is one of the indelible events in recent American history. Before people said they knew exactly where they were during 9/11, they could tell you where they were when the Challenger happened. A media frenzy about sending “a normal person” into space meant most of the country was aware if not actively watching when the shuttle launch went horribly wrong.

Most people also know that the problem was a thin piece of rubber, called an O-ring, which failed to do its job and caused the explosion.

The documentary covers all of these things including bios of the shuttle crew outside of Christa McAuliffe. Additionally, we get to hear about the embarrassing attempts to cover up the real cause of the disaster which was rampant incompetence and arrogance. They are always a wonderful pair.

Verdict: This documentary is heartbreaking and covers a lot of ground. It may not contain a lot of new information for people who knew about it at the time but is great if you don’t know much about it.  

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Challenger: The Final Flight (Netflix)
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