No challenges with “Challenger: The Final Flight”


photo by Netflix

Netflix’s “Challenger: The Final Flight” reveals the truth behind the Challenger space shuttle tragedy. The four-episode series is a perfect blend of information and emotions, making it suitable for all audiences.


Jan. 28, 1986 was an unforgettable day for the United States. Seven astronauts attempted to go into space on the Space Shuttle Challenger, including teacher and civilian Christa McAuliffe. After only a minute into flight, the shuttle exploded, proving fatal for all on board. What truly occurred on this day has been a mystery to many Americans—until now. Netflix’s docuseries “Challenger: The Final Flight” gives insight as to what caused this tragedy and how it affected all future space travel. 

Released Sept. 16, this Netflix original put full focus onto analyzing the events that took place leading up to the liftoff of Challenger, the flight itself, and what occurred afterwards. The show explored all areas of concern: the government, supplier companies, NASA, and the motivation behind it all. 

Amazingly, the series managed to remain unbiased while giving both scientific data and emotional anecdotes that captured this accident in four short episodes. The first two episodes have a very personal touch, letting the audience get to know each of the astronauts’ backstories and personalities. The directors of the show did this beautifully, giving the audience just enough information to form a connection with the astronauts. Additionally, the scientific data that was given was explained in basic enough terms for the average person to understand, allowing for a wider pool of viewers. The series would not have been an easy watch, had it lacked simplicity and straightforwardness. 

“Challenger: The Final Flight” was fully transparent. Morton Thiokol Inc., the manufacturer of the problematic yet vital O-rings, stated on multiple occasions that flying on a cold day could be catastrophic to the safety of the flight, as the O-rings would not operate correctly. However, with the intense pressure from NASA, they approved the flight for takeoff at a temperature of 36º. This series broke all boundaries that were set in previous years of trying to keep the political motivation secret from the public, which is a huge component of why the show is so phenomenal. There was not an inch of sugar-coating in the series, making the experience seem realistic to viewers. In the last episode, there was a brief, positive segment describing the success of the 1988 Space Shuttle Discovery flight, which was a nice touch to assure that not all hope had been lost in NASA.

In short, “Challenger: The Final Flight” was an exceptional docuseries that depicted the heartbreaking events that caused the Challenger disaster and had an equal amount of data and feelings. It was a fascinating watch, keeping the audience glued to their screens. It brought the truth behind Challenger to light, which people around the world had long waited for.