It’s January 1986 in eastern Florida, and the Challenger space shuttle is preparing to launch. Thousands of miles away in Brigham City, Utah, engineer Bob Ebeling is begging officials to keep the mission on the ground. But in their haste to send their crew to the stars, NASA ignores his warnings – and the tragic consequences still haunt the nation to this day.
Almost two decades before, the United States had rejoiced as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took mankind’s first steps on the moon. Winning the race to reach the planet, America took its place at the forefront of space travel – a position that it has remained in ever since.
Just before the moon landings, NASA had begun exploring the idea of a space shuttle – a reusable craft designed to complete multiple manned missions. And in 1972 officials launched the program. As President Richard Nixon explained in a speech the same year, the endeavor aimed to “transform the space frontier.”