Space is beautiful, enchanting, awe-inspiring, and utterly unforgiving. We celebrate the victories, but don't let a string of successes deceive you into thinking spaceflight is easy. A new documentary investigates the major malfunctions, technical and procedural, that led to NASA space shuttle explosions.

Smoke plume of the Challenger explosion. Image credit: NASA

Retro Report just released Major Malfunction, a documentary on the two Shuttle catastrophes. Major malfunction is an understatement for the destruction of Space Shuttle Challenger moments after launch in 1986, and the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia during re-entry in 2003.

Advertisement

This isn't a fun watch; you won't be left cheerful and glowing afterwards. But you will be left soberly impressed with the sheer bravery of the people involved in breaking free of our planet, and the people who get them safely out and back home again.

This is why NASA astronauts give out the prized Snoopy pins to those who safeguard the safety of the crewed spaceflight program, and why one of Reid Wiseman's first tweets from space was to thank the crew who built his rocket well and got him into orbit safely. Most importantly, this is why orbital inspections are now a priority instead of a derailment of the main mission, to make the harsh, unforgiving process of spaceflight as safe as we can get it.

Advertisement