The earlier, looser episodes allow for more of an unabashed wallow in the particulars of the era, from the cringe-inducing (like Tom Brokaw asking Challenger crew-member Judith Resnik if anyone had ever suggested she was too cute to be an astronaut) to the retroactively ironic (like Jerry Seinfeld joking on The Tonight Show that the only way to interest people in the space program again would be to draft ordinary people who didn’t want to go). Comprising four episodes and a combined three hours, Netflix’s new documentary, “Challenger: The Final Flight,” successfully tackles the anticipation, tragedy, and recovery involving one …

Bylines in The A.V. Between Vietnam, inflation, and growing racial animosity, America needed something to feel good about — the shuttle gave the country that, if only for a while.

‘Challenger: The Final Flight’ details the reasons the disaster happened and the people we lost Netflix documentary hears from the crew’s survivors as well as key figures from NASA. It’s harrowing to hear Billingsley describe what it was like to witness the Challenger explosion in person, standing in a crowd of people who weren’t sure what they were seeing until they heard the creepily detached voices of NASA Mission Control saying, “Obviously a major malfunction,” and, “The vehicle has exploded.” It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the images from that day—the weeping spectators, the contrail lingering in the sky—and by the testimony of family members describing their still-painful feelings of loss.

For the small percentage of the episodes that re-enactments are used, it’s only to allow the audio being played to match a scene where no cameras existed.

In the early days of NASA, the public and the press spent a lot of time micro-analyzing the organization’s failures. Their final half-hour in particular is incredibly dramatic, echoing a lot of the discussions we’re still having—all about whether it’s better to be honest with the American people, or to preserve our myths and heroes. As NASA began considering sending civilians into space, the public debated who it should be. With June Scobee Rodgers, William Harwood, Frederick D. Gregory, John Zarrella.

asks June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of flight commander Francis "Dick" Scobee.

Even those old enough to recall watching the televised tragedy -- an image indelibly etched into memories over the days that followed -- will be transported back by some of the old footage and home video, including the looks on the faces of schoolchildren, NASA personnel and the assembled crowd as they realized that plume of smoke meant something had gone terribly wrong.

Four episodes, 179 total minutes.) The case made by “Challenger: The Final Flight,” a new four-episode documentary series on, in the air in 1986 was done shoddily, due to the desire to score public-relations wins for NASA. Yet after the initial excitement following the launch of the first Shuttle Columbia in 1981, NASA again found itself struggling to make the front page of the newspaper. Your weekly guide to Bay Area arts & entertainment. The element that took this from sorrowful and tragic error to generation-defining news event was the presence onboard of Christa McAuliffe, a civilian schoolteacher specifically chosen for the mission in order to catalyze student interest in America’s quest for the stars. Inspired both by McAuliffe and the new Young Astronauts Program, many school children graced the bleachers as well.

What might have been is painful to contemplate, both for our culture and, far more pressingly, for the loved ones of seven who would have returned to earth living to tell the tale rather than eulogized heroes. ), The Challenger 7 flight crew (L to R): Ellison S. Onizuka; Mike Smith; Christa McAuliffe; Dick Scobee; Gregory Jarvis; Judith Resnik; and Ronald McNair (Public Domain/NASA), Directors Steven Leckart and Daniel Junge (working with a team that includes executive producer J.J. Abrams) fare best when painting with the broadest brush, capturing the romance that surrounded the space program, which became -- think "The Right Stuff" -- the ultimate. That teacher, Christa McAuliffe, is the best-remembered name in what was at that point an unprecedentedly diverse crew of seven extraordinary individuals, who died despite the warnings and alarms sounded about the shuttle's safety and specifically the solid-rocket booster O-rings that caused Challenger to break apart 73 seconds into its launch. Directed by Steven Leckart and Daniel Junge, and skillfully aided by executive producer J.J. Abrams, “Challenger: The Final Flight” is a welcome addition to an impressive growing canon of space documentaries. But its last chapter is so moving—and at … Club, The Week, The Verge, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone. Available to stream on Netflix beginning Wednesday, Sept. 16.

If there's a bright note, it's the expressed belief that NASA learned from this painful chapter, addressing the technical problems as well as. The exact moment of the catastrophe, however, isn’t shown until nearly three-quarters of the way through the documentary. Then, on Aug. 27, 1984, President Ronald Reagan announced the Teacher in Space Project, set to culminate in one of the nation’s talented schoolteachers receiving the honor to be NASA’s first non-astronaut.

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