In 2020, a shocking documentary called CHALLENGER, THE FINAL FLIGHT on NETFLIX, revealed the tragedy behind the Challenger tragedy. After the 1986 accident, we had all heard them talking endlessly about the “O-Rings,” but somewhere along the line we stopped listening. With pressure from NASA and President Reagan not to have the catastrophe undermine the US Space Program, the information just died.
However, this relentlessly honest documentary—with interviews from the crew’s spouses and survivors of some of the original scientists—finally forces us all to face the troubling facts: the Challenger engineers and scientists spent endless hours debating what to do about the very likely odds that the Space Ship would indeed blow up! They knew it could happen.
All their tests told them the rubber O-Rings holding the booster rockets together would shrink and crack in extreme temperatures, like, say, freezing cold weather followed by sudden burning-hot rocket rev-ups for launching. Incredibly, they bowed to pressure, rolled the dice anyway, and blew up 7 human beings—along with the momentum of the US space program anyway.
Today, 35 years later, we mourn their pointless sacrifice that day, and honor their courage to “break into the future.” In the end, the Space Program learned from their tragedy and made many lasting safety changes that continue to save the lives of those who follow them into the endless midnight sky.