The Challenger Finds Its Christa McAuliffe In Michelle Williams

Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage; NASA/Getty Images

The 60s had the first moon landing. The 70s had the Apollo 13 near-disaster. The 80s had the Challenger explosion. Each decade has some space exploration event that is indelibly marked onto the minds of people around the world. While the two previous events have well and truly made their way into popular culture, there has been little on the Challenger disaster. However, that is about to change with the announcement of a movie by Land of Mine filmmaker Martin Zandvliet.

The morning of January 28, 1986 started out like any other January morning that year, however history was to be made later that day with the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. This was due to the presence of Payload Specialist Christa McAuliffe abroad the shuttle. McAuliffe was a high school teacher from New Hampshire who was part of NASA’s Teacher in Space Project and was set to be the first teacher in space. Because of this, the launch had a relatively large live audience, including school kids across the US. Plagued by a number of launch delays and then ice on the shuttle from the freezing overnight temperatures forced the launch time to be postponed to later on the 28th, the shuttle was finally cleared for launch at 11:38am EST. Challenger took off from Cape Canaveral and 73 seconds later it exploded, killing all seven crewmembers. In the aftermath, the space shuttle program was on hiatus for 32 months.

Starring as McAuliffe, who was honoured posthumously with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor is Michelle Williams, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Joining Zandvliet on the creative side is Jayson Rothwell, who penned the film.

I can still vividly remember this disaster. Up until this point, I had wanted to be an astronaut and travel in space (thank you Star Wars). However, watching the shuttle explode and completely disintegrate quickly changed my mind. With the right team on board (and Williams’ involvement certainly speaks well of the project), this is likely to follow in the footsteps of Apollo 13.

The Challenger is set to begin production in spring 2019. No release date has been announced.

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Clare Sidoti

Clare Sidoti is 4 Your Excitement's Editor-at-Large. Clare has a BA (Theatre and Film Studies) from the University of New South Wales, Australia and an MA Theory and Practice of Human Rights from the University of Essex, UK. She currently works for an NGO that runs human rights training in the Asia Pacific region. You can find her on twitter with her eclectic musings on the arts, entertainment and human rights. Some of her favourite topics to cover include Darren Criss, Chris Colfer, Glee and Star Wars.
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