Excellent video documentation of the disaster
J. Howard | Austin, TX USA | 04/27/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"NASA had some guts to release this. The first sequence is the NASA TV video feed from the time the crew leaves the preperation facility until the last debris hit the water. They show the crew boarding the Shuttle and give brief bios of each crewmember. After that, they then analyis the flight in painstaking detail, showing mulitple ultra-slowmotion views of the flight from liftoff to water impact of the debris. They show the breakup of the vehicle in such detail that it is painful to watch.They then use computer graphics to show the problem with the o-rings and restate the conclusions of the Presidential investigating committee. (They do not show any of the proceedings of that investigation.)After about an hour on the accident, they provide some stock footage of the history of NASA, and (in really bad taste IMHO) scenes from "Plan 9 From Outer Space", and some other stuff I didn't sit through.This disk does not go behind the scenes, it shows the flight, and then explains in detail what happened and why. It shows why the decision to launch was fatal, but it doesn't explain why NASA made such a bad launch decision.Students of the Challenger disaster will want this disk so as to gain a clear picture of the technical flaw that brought down STS-51L. They will need to go else where to learn the human side of the story."
Worthwhile for its technical look at the Challenger disaster
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 10/10/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"You could hardly find a stranger juxtaposition between two NASA films than what you will find here on this NASA volume 5 release. Our look at NASA's lowest of times is followed by a self-congratulatory video covering the first 25 years of the space agency's existence. Neither of these features is very impressive visually, and they are both far from exciting, but the look at the Challenger disaster makes this a fascinating, worthwhile DVD to own. Don't expect any kind of retrospective of or memorial to the Challenger, however, for the content you will find here is rather clinical and dry. The feature opens with some kind of NASA video feed coverage of the seven astronauts getting suited up and crawling inside the spacecraft; it feels quite macabre to watch what you know are the final moments of these people's lives, but it does provide a good background on the seven heroes who were fated to die that day of January 28, 1986. The bulk of the footage, though, consists of a tape prepared by the Analysis Task Force whose job it was to find out what happened and why. It is a rather technical presentation, but it provides some amazing looks at the video footage taken from a number of cameras on the ground and in the air, pointing out tell-tale signs of the disaster in the making. While it does provide a good assessment of the cause of the disaster, it really doesn't take things far enough to engage in a blame-game type of presentation, nor does it offer any speculation as to the probability that the astronauts lived long enough to plunge violently into the ocean.Then you have the story of NASA's first 25 years, a film I found drab and sometimes pretty boring. The best part has to do with the early work by NASA and its original astronauts in programs largely forgotten today; while Mercury and Gemini might ring a few bells today, there were really an incredible number of launches and missions that prepared the way for the moon landing in 1969. The video gives a good rundown of NASA's 1970s projects, as well, before concluding with a look at the first six successful missions of the space shuttle. The shuttle video did reawaken some emotions in me. I dreamed of working for NASA as a kid, and the launch and landing of the Columbia on that first mission is something I will never forget. Having just looked at the space vehicles used up until that time, the viewer can get some sense of just how amazing and exciting the shuttle was in its early life. The only complaints I have about this 25th anniversary NASA video are: 1) it slightly exaggerates NASA's importance in the creation of many non-space-related products and ideas and 2) it glances over the failures that were an integral part of NASA's history. The unfortunate and, given its cause, rather stupid fire that killed three astronauts on the launch pad in 1967 is at least mentioned, but there is no direct comment made about Apollo 13. I find this doubly strange because the Apollo 13 mission saw disaster transformed by NASA into its finest hour. Finally, I was gratified to see mention made of the animals that were launched on test flights long before men climbed atop any fireballs. Many animals, especially monkeys, were sent up never to return alive, and the story of these first true astronauts is a story that needs to be told.When it comes down to brass tacks, though, I would only recommend this item to those with a keen interest in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. The NASA 25th anniversary video is surprisingly uninteresting as a whole and shamefully glosses over the trials that stand as an integral part of that history. The extra features on the DVD are also rather meaningless, consisting only of four astronaut biographies, a set of 5 trivia questions, a short description of the shuttle and three of its early missions, and a completely inexplicable film reel of the ludicrously fake spaceships featured in Plan 9 From Outer Space."