This week I’ve been re-reading “Truth Lies and O-rings” by Allan McDonald (with James R. Hansen), and have revisited our Challenger set; The two together present you with an excellent understanding of the accident.
When embarking on producing the Challenger DVD set, my first mission was to include as much launch material as was available. My first goal was to make new film-to-tape transfers of the launch footage, but found out there was little interest in doing so on the part of NASA. In fact, I was informed that the launch footage remained impounded as part of the Challenger launch investigation.
We did include all of the launch footage that was available, in the original transfers. One item of interest on Challenger – it was the first space shuttle launch from pad B, and it experienced the highest number of camera failures than any previous launch, possibly due to the very low temperatures. In fact, the camera that would have had a direct view of the area later determined to be the source of the black smoke at liftoff failed, and there is no direct view of that area of that field joint at launch.
We also included the early press conferences, Reagan’s address on the afternoon of the 28th, as well as over 2.5 hours of material of crew training prior to the mission (plus much, much more).
As the set shaped up I made a last determination that to tell the real story of Challenger required the inclusion of key testimony from the Rogers Commission. This testimony is the predominant material on disc 3. This material is also where the combination of the “Truth Lies and O-rings” book and our set make excellent companions. McDonald spends considerable time speaking about this testimony, and the main features are included on our set. Hearing McDonald’s thoughts on the testimony and then actually seeing it provides an excellent insight.
When I’m away from one of our sets for a long period of time (I haven’t looked at the Challenger set in some time) I find I sometimes surprise myself when I return and realize just how packed they are with great material surrounding the subject. This Challenger set is no different. Above I’ve included a track from the DVD we produced to demonstrate just how many chances were missed to fix the SRBs before Challenger, a sobering reminder of what went wrong in this tragedy.
Our Challenger 3-DVD set is available now at a special price.