“Space for Everyone” hints of a cover-up but also brings the sadness that surrounded the catastrophe that happened that day.
This recap of Netflix’s Challenger: The Final Flight episode 1, “Space for Everyone” contains specific information on the chapter.
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January 28, 1986 — Mission Control, Houston is ready — Christa McAuliffe and her six crewmates are preparing for launch of the Space Shuttle program. The selling point is that she’s a citizen and a teacher — it was meant to be unprecedented. Suddenly there’s a crackling static and shock as the shuttle launches into the sky.
Shock, anguish and potential cover-up
Episode 1 shows so much shock and anguish. Spectators cry and scream. It was called a “major malfunction” after the space shuttle Challenger exploded — 7 people killed. The archive footage is upsetting. There’s also a suggestion of a cover-up.
Five years earlier
Archive footage shows Shuttle Columbia returning to earth in 1981 on a Californian desert — crowds of people are cheering at the triumph. Episode 1 explores how NASA didn’t know what to do after they landed on the moon in the 60s — they wanted space missions to be more cost-effective and open space up to average people. For their next shuttle, they needed a new group of astronauts.
The first episode then discusses how NASA wanted space teams to be moved away from an “all-white male team” and they looked at diversity for their missions. There was also a mix of different skills. Four members of the 1978 class of 35 selected astronauts got chosen for the Challenger.
The class of 78 went through intense training. “Space for Everyone” provides insightful footage of what NASA did to prepare the astronauts including how to survive in water.
A complex machine
The documentary describes that the Challenger was a very complex machine with plenty of wiring and backup. It used solid-propellant boosters that Russia did not use because they found it to be dangerous.
When the Columbia shuttle went into space, it reinvigorated the country. The shuttle was seen as iconic and it brought national pride. A journalist describes it as a parallel to the Space Race to the moon. Everyone in the class of 78′ wanted to fly.
NASA had a busy schedule
Episode 1 presents how there was plenty of scheduled flights, including the shuttle Challenger that had many “firsts” in space — first female astronaut (Sally Ride), first African-American astronaut and first Asian-American astronaut.
There were a few scares with the other shuttles before the final Challenger flight but there’s a suggestion that NASA had a streak of arrogance due to their extreme success. Episode 1 discusses how an engineer had a big problem with the boosters and warned that “the shuttle is going to explode”. Challenger: The Final Flight episode 1 hints of a cover-up but also brings the sadness that surrounded the catastrophe that happened that day.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.