The Challenger Disaster (2013) Movie Script

Tonight's space shuttle Challenger on launch pad 39B,
as the mammoth spacecraft...
The countdown continues for tomorrow's launch
of the Space Shuttle Challenger, with its crew of seven
including New Hampshire schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe.
But a cloudy and...
As NASA ground crews prepare the ship...
...officials believe it will be a go...
The Challenger mission L51 has been...
The 51L mission, ready to go.
At seven o'clock, the Challenger crew met
for their traditional pre-flight breakfast...
Ladies and gentlemen of the faculty, students, quiet, please.
Please welcome our esteemed guest lecturer,
winner of the Einstein Award,
one of the ten most significant physicists of all time,
winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, Dr Richard Feynman.
I bribed him to say all that nice stuff,
clearly I just escaped from jail.
Energy, from potential to kinetic,
gives you...
You see that?
No, don't write it down.
Not till you know what it means.
This will not hurt you.
It might hurt me.
Why didn't I have you write down the equation?
You'd write it out.
La-di-la-di-la, you'd feel pretty smart, right?
But now you understand it.
Mom! Hurry Up! I'm coming.
...about three minutes, and they think they can do it.
They are counting, the ice is cleared away,
and Challenger should be going away very soon.
Let's go down to the Kennedy Space Center
and take a look at Challenger sitting on the pad
as they continue the countdown.
Challenger's launch will be the 25th space shuttle mission.
It's estimated over 30,000 people have been involved...
Dale, you want some coffee? Not now, Larry. a total cost of nearly 40 million...
There goes Christa McAuliffe, first teacher in space.
During the mission, McAuliffe will be conducting scientific experiments
which will be beamed live to children
in schoolrooms across America.
The New Hampshire teacher has described Challenger
as the ultimate field trip.
What is science?
Science is a way to teach how...
some thing gets to be known.
In as much as anything can be known.
Because nothing is known absolutely.
It's how to handle doubt
and uncertainty.
Ten, nine, eight, seven, six...
we have main engine start.
Four, three, two, one...
Lift-off of the 25th space shuttle mission,
and it has cleared the tower.
Roger roll, Challenger.
Challenger, go with throttle.
Science teaches us what the rules of evidence are.
We mess with that at our peril.
One minute, 15 seconds.
We'll report more as we have information available.
Checking with the recovery forces.
Obviously a major malfunction.
We have no downlink.
The space agency NASA has not yet confirmed the deaths
of the schoolteacher and six other astronauts
who were on board the shuttle Challenger when it exploded
on take-off this morning in Florida.
But there seems little doubt that there were any survivors.
NASA is conducting a news conference at this moment.
Challenger exploded into a fireball
and pieces came down in the Atlantic Ocean...
Never in 25 launches of the space shuttle had a life been lost.
Today, that record went down in flames.
Tonight the search for survivors turned up none.
The search for answers is just starting.
Bruce Hall begins our coverage
of a spaceship that became a fireball and a national tragedy.
Ready for launch.
And lift-off.
And listen to the cheers of the young students
of the first ever US teacher-astronaut.
Moments later, a massive explosion.
The cheering stops.
I'm sorry, I can't watch this stuff.
Seven Americans with the highest hopes.
A billion dollars worth of the highest technology.
Gone in seconds.
The worst disaster in the US Space Program ever.
Hello. Er, hold on, hold on. No...
Feynman menagerie.
Sorry, who is it? Hold on, hold on.
Who's this?
Bill. Bill who?
Bill Graham?
I've got 15,000 former students.
Listen, pal, how did you get a hold of my home number?
You're head of what?
You got your results back yet?
What's bugging you?
Had a phone call this morning.
They want me to go to Washington
and sit on a presidential inquiry thing.
Find out why the shuttle exploded.
Did you say yes?
I'm not even that into the space programme.
I know people died and I'm very sorry about that, but...
I do my work, my teaching, you guys.
They just want to say that they bagged the famous physicist guy.
They're a bunch of bureaucrats and generals
with pokers up their asses, you know?
You just said it.
They wouldn't know where to look. You would.
You can't pass up a puzzle, not as important as this.
I'm sorry, love, you're right.
I wasn't thinking.
Write and explain that you're not fit enough.
I'm fit. I'm fit.
Who are you kidding? I'm fit as a fiddle.
What do you Yorkshire folks say? "I'm fit as a flea. "
You want the proof?
Not especially.
Ohh... you smell so good.
OK, but...
Then you'd have no excuse.
Damn you, woman.
I'll have to wear a tie.
The Captain has turned on the no smoking signs.
At this time, please extinguish all smoking materials.
It's cold.
NASA headquarters.
NASA, you got it.
With America still in shock
after the world's worst space disaster,
the address given by President Reagan
in the hours following the accident
now seems to have captured the mood of a nation.
We mourn seven heroes.
We mourn their loss as a nation together...
So, sir, are you something to do with the enquiry there?
Yeah, I'm on the presidential commission.
Alongside some super-important people.
...slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God.
Focus now turns to the cause of the tragedy,
as the Presidential Commission...
They gotta get back up there.
Something went really wrong.
Keep that. Thank you.
Can I trouble you for an autograph?
Who would I make it out to?
Not you, sir. I meant Mr Neil Armstrong.
First man on the moon.
You could mail it.
That's my driver number, at that address.
I promise. Thank you.
Thank you.
So what do you expect to find?
Mr Feynman, what do you expect to find?
Pardon me.
Mr Armstrong, I think we met... Excuse me.
I'm Bill Rogers. I'm chairman of the Commission.
We're very fortunate to have you with us.
Hey, I've got somebody who wants to meet you.
Dr Sally Ride.
Oh... Our first woman in space. Well...
Nice to meet you.
You too. Mmm.
Good journey?
I took the red-eye from LA.
Don't ever do it.
Dr Alton Keel, our executive director.
Nobel laureate, Richard Feynman.
Your name I recognise too. Fellow physicist.
Formerly. I've been in Washington several years. Oh.
How's your integrity?
That's just insulting. No!
Don't take me seriously.
I appreciate you all coming together at short notice.
We have a huge, vital task ahead of us,
upon which might depend the future
of manned space flight in this country.
Now, I intend for this investigation
to follow an orderly and proper procedure.
We are not going to conduct it in a manner that is in any way
unfairly critical of NASA.
Because we believe, and certainly I believe,
that NASA has done an excellent job.
And I believe that the American people think so too.
We have to accept the fact that this shuttle
is the most complex machine that's ever been built.
I understand it has more than two and a half million parts.
It may be, after due consideration,
it's just not possible to identify the cause.
In terms of scheduling... That's nothing.
I'm sorry, Dr Feynman?
Two and a half million - small potatoes.
No, really look - I don't know much about space rockets,
but I know a little something about probability.
Something I developed called, um... path integral formulation.
It's quantum mechanics, yuck, yuck. But, um...
Basically, what it means is that you can figure out the probability
of something occurring,
not just when you get two and a half million events,
but an infinity of possibilities.
However large the number of causal paths
for whatever happened to Challenger,
an explanation can be found.
What are we doing here if we don't think it's possible?
Er... Chairman Rogers, I headed an investigation
into the failure of a Titan rocket,
and I suggest I outline the procedure we used there.
I appreciate the offer, General Kutyna,
but I think in this case there's far less collectable evidence.
I don't like to contradict you, sir, but in the case of the shuttle,
as there are human beings aboard,
it generates far more database material.
Mr Rogers, what the general said is the case.
There are external cameras, there are black box recordings,
there are telemetry sensors, there's a great deal of information.
Thank you, General Kutyna.
And Mr Armstrong.
I'm certain we can get back to this.
Please, anyone.
Chairman. Yes.
I don't know about anyone else, but, um...
Coming in, I got some major press attention.
I'd like to know what we're to say.
For the sake of the astronaut families,
what are we saying at this point?
This is very important.
Any and all enquiries from the press
are to be directed to Chairman Rogers's office.
So, the plan is...
lady and gentlemen...
we will reconvene in five days' time.
But for the present, enjoy your stay in Washington.
We're not going to..? That's it.
Keel. We don't start right away?
Dr Feynman.
Bill Graham, head of NASA.
Thank you.
You're the guy that got me into this.
Well, I took your physics lectures way back, never forgotten.
I think you're going to bring something unique to the Commission.
I abandoned my teaching and a lot of important consulting to come here,
didn't imagine I was going to be told to sit on my tush for a week.
So, here's what I'm going to need.
I'm going to need a crash course in shuttle design.
I need to know everything on how this thing was put together,
so if you can start supplying me with the technical manuals and so forth,
and most of all, you gotta get me straight on the factory floor.
Pretty new to NASA myself -
I actually only took over two months ago.
That's bad timing.
We're based here in Washington,
but the shuttle engines and systems
are all out of the Marshall Space Flight Center.
It pretty much takes care of itself.
You're the head of the whole shmeer,
I mean, you can get me in this Marshall place,
otherwise I'm a busy fella.
I'll do my best. I'll get on it right away.
Right, thanks.
I like that you didn't let up there on the mighty chairman.
You take it. I don't care for limousines.
Well, neither do I -
I'm just a two-star general, don't get assigned a limousine.
Take the subway.
Pleasure. You too.
Oh, and there was a phone call for you, sir.
Please call your doctor.
Dr... Weiss?
The elevator's just to your right, sir. begin what may be a lengthy process.
Millions of Americans who watched our heroes perish
only 73 seconds after take-off on that cold January morning
are waiting for answers.
Nancy and I are pained to the core about the tragedy
of the shuttle Challenger...
You got me in, great.
I'll take a plane down in the morning.
Alpha plus.
I've always had great faith in and respect for our space programme.
We don't hide our space programme.
We don't keep secrets and cover things up.
We do it all upfront and in public.
That's the way freedom is and we wouldn't change it for a minute.
Wow, it's immense.
This is an identical craft?
No, it's a training simulator.
but for your purposes, the flight deck systems, the payload bay, etc,
virtually identical.
Want to see the flight deck?
You have four human beings jammed in this space?
Can I sit here?
OK. So...
they got S-Band communication links...
environmental control systems...
cabin pressure gauges...
What is that? Emergency oxygen.
Don't touch things.
Come on.
Dick Feynman. I'm on the Commission.
I got nothing to hide.
If I was to ask you engineers,
never mind what the managers say, but you guys...
Given all your experience,
what you thought the probability was of an accident on any single launch,
what would you say?
I mean, if you don't want to say out loud,
perhaps you could write it down on a piece of paper.
So you're looking at the solid rocket boosters.
OK, so...
They're not made here.
No - they're made by contractors, Morton Thiokol in Utah.
Railroaded into Kennedy in sections.
That's a pretty standard tang and clevis joint.
Look, there's no ways it was the solid rocket boosters.
How so certain? Because they don't fly with holes in them.
If it was the SRB, it would have exploded on the launch pad.
These kept on flying, you see it in the footage.
You watched the footage. Tell me what you saw.
What went through your mind?
What did you think it was?
I thought it was the main engines.
OK. Why? Why the main engines?
Because of the complexity.
They're working at the outer edge of any experience base.
In the blade technology?
No, no, no, it's more than the blades, it's...
There is no ways that I'm ratting out my co-workers here.
Look, pal...
If we're not allowed to find out what went wrong,
there will be no more co-workers.
All these jobs will be gone, kaput.
Won't be another shuttle launch.
Of the events on the morning of the 28th of January,
the Presidential Commission investigating the accident,
headed by former Secretary of State William Rogers,
has met mostly behind closed doors.
So far, it's given no hints about what it believes
may have been the cause.
Meanwhile, off the coast of Florida,
the hunt for Challenger wreckage continues.
The combined NASA, naval and coastguard operation
involving 14 ships, four submarines and 11 aircraft
is combing hundreds of square miles of ocean.
Although NASA today released pictures showing recovered debris,
they've been unable to confirm that they've found the crew compartment.
In the absence of detailed information
about what happened to Challenger,
speculation about the cause of the accident continues to grow.
Recent theories include everything from a computer programming error
to unusually strong winds.
Chairman Rogers...
The boats just pulled in the crew compartment.
Can you tell me, was the oxygen activated?
Yes, Dr Ride.
It was.
maybe won't make that public straight away.
Excuse me.
Dr Feynman.
It's very important that this team stays together all the time.
It's been reported to me that you spent some time at Marshall.
That's not very helpful.
Oh, Mr Rogers, I don't find it helpful to stand around.
The other commissioners are just being respectful.
And you're saying I'm not?
You understand the implications of the oxygen being activated?
I do.
The astronauts had to do that themselves.
Which means that they were alive
for at least some of those two minutes and 36 seconds
before they slammed into the ocean.
Mr Rogers, I'm an atheist.
I personally doubt that they're touching the face of God,
so I prefer to show my respect
by finding the cause of their appalling deaths
and not stand around looking sad.
You know, I didn't even want to be on this commission
but now that I'm on it,
I've got every intention of finding out what went wrong.
You know, I don't know that NASA did an excellent job.
The group will be leaving in 30 minutes.
Except for General Kutyna, who's made his own arrangements.
I also may have my own arrangements.
I can't force you to go.
Are you going to work all night?
Er... if necessary. I don't know.
How do you plan to get back to Washington?
Er... I got myself in kind of a pickle.
I want to go back to Marshall.
Guess I'll hire a car, but it's hundreds of miles.
I can give you a lift. I'll drop you in Alabama.
Thank you.
Here. 0600?
I may not get a limo,
but occasionally I get the use of a government jet.
No..! You imagined I was going to drive you 400 miles?
This is tremendous.
New for you?
You serious? No!
It's OK.
You know, what you have to realise
is that you are uniquely independent.
Yeah, how's that?
everyone on the commission has strong associations.
To whom? Well, to NASA - Armstrong, Ride...
The government - Keel - Rogers was Secretary of State.
And Bill Graham's even a personal friend of President Reagan's.
And you?
Me, the Air Force.
How does the Air Force... Air Force three niner two six five.
Low on four three zero.
Heading three two zero.
Two six five.
How does the Air Force... You're the only independent.
I'm independent.
I'm invincible.
but check six.
What check six? That's, um...
That's a fighter pilot's expression.
Six o'clock.
The blind spot. Directly behind you.
Watch my ass.
OK, watch your ass here.
What? It's a little steep.
That's what we call the diamond.
Wow, now that is very beautiful.
What the hell?
You happy with that, with that vibration?
Don't worry, it steadies again after 65%.
But to get to 65%, you gotta go through that?
Sometimes, yeah.
Can I see components, the blades?
Oh, what is that?
It's a crack... in this blade.
There's an obvious crack.
The blades often get those after a flight,
but that's not a flight safety problem.
Well, what is it, then? We were told to log it as a maintenance problem.
Only if it develops into a full fracture, THAT would be a failure.
So a failure only happens if it actually shears off?
Bull! The failure is the crack.
Well, you could argue that...
The failure is the crack - I mean, because it's not in the design.
You know and I know it's not supposed to crack.
Who has the rest of the test data?
Is that it?
I think we should start this discussion on the step-by-step process, so...
Concentrate the investigation on the main engines.
There are cracked turbine blades.
As early as 1,375 seconds, equivalent to full power level.
Also, at 4,000 hertz, there are some nasty vibrations.
So you think the cause lies within the engines?
I'd bet my last dime on it. I just got back from Marshall.
I just heard an interesting new definition of the word "failure".
Well, it's interesting that you should say that, Doctor.
We've just received the telemetry data from NASA,
and the sensors on the engines
show that they performed absolutely perfectly.
Get out of here!
The engines began to shut down as fuel pressure decreased,
exactly as designed.
That's extremely lucky, because I'm telling you, those engines have profound problems.
Now there is a step-by-step process for us all to follow,
and I respectfully request that from now on...
you abide by it.
We're all trying to find the answer.
All right, we begin.
Step by step.
Don't let the chairman put you off.
Look, you should come by the house some night for a bite, if that appeals.
Yeah? OK, good. Excuse me for a second.
Graham, why didn't I know that we had the results from the sensors on the engines?
Is NASA drip-feeding us information to suit itself?
I hear you. I'm doing this with one hand tied behind my back.
I hear you, but..
You OK?
I'll see you tomorrow.
I goofed. I thought I had the answer. I was way off.
So what are you going to do? Are you going to stick with it?
I don't know.
Listen, there's a knock on the door. I'll call you later. 'All right. '
I'm not sure why they chose to just lay them in this order.
It's difficult to tell,
but this is... this is half that...
Chairman Rogers...
NASA's Failure Analysis team supplied a still from camera E207,
trained on-flight.
It looks like it took a long time for this photograph to appear.
Well, it's here now. What is that?
A flame?
Coming from a position on the side of the solid rocket booster?
Did we know that? Did we know that already?
Did we get stills from other angles? Am I right?
They had cameras all around? Yeah. Yes.
Some of the cameras that were looking directly at the area
were not working on the day, I'm told.
Well, that's unfortunate. Hm.
May I have that, please? Of course.
Am I super-late? I had to pick this up at the lab.
No, no, it's not a problem. Nice car.
You like it? Like it? I LOVE it.
I don't know if that enlargement's going to tell us anything.
Let's see.
Well, it's somewhat clearer, no? No, that just makes the whole thing wider open.
But the flamer is sharper. But that flame, where is it originating?
Perhaps what we're seeing is the tip of a larger flame
on the other side where there's no damned camera.
A flame is not a cause. A flame is an effect, it's a symptom.
That doesn't tell us which component split,
sheared off, cracked. It shows us nothing.
It takes us nowhere.
I want to show you something.
Multiple successful launches, identical components
and launch locations, so what made that day special?
What were the variables?
Take a break, Prof.
You lucky fella!
Yeah, I'd be luckier if I could get it running. It's out of commission.
The carburettors seize in this weather.
This must be how you stay calm.
Roger The Dodger's got me going crazy with that process of his.
He's a lawyer. He's working it through the way he knows.
Yeah, well, maybe some others are kind of working it through the way they know.
What? You think somebody's working it for themselves?
Do you? It's Washington, after all.
I can't believe I got myself back in this world - government, politics...
And military guys like me.
You're surprisingly OK.
I guess you had your fill of military personnel through the '40s.
What was your role back then?
When? During the war, with the A-bomb.
I did the theoretical figuring. It was the math.
I calculated how much fissionable material would
be necessary to make an effective weapon.
It's not a good use of science.
You helped end the war.
Wow, this is beautiful!
Shall we try that Bordeaux?
You go ahead. I no longer drink. If I drink, I can't think.
Oh, sir, we had maintenance look at your heating.
Oh, thank you. Let me know if you still feel chilly.
Could you help me find the number of the National Weather Service?
There you go.
Can I borrow this? Sure.
Yeah, please. Not a forecast.
The temperature at Cape Canaveral. Nearby?
Yeah, Jacksonville, Florida, on the morning of the 28th of January.
Thank you.
That's the variable.
I got the variable.
It was freezing cold on the morning of the launch. We need to focus
our questioning of the NASA managers on stuff to do with temperature.
Temperature? You're talking about ice?
I don't know. Perhaps added weight of ice, perhaps some metal component
becoming brittle. I don't know which component.
There are only two and a half million possibilities!
I'm pretty certain.
As certain as you were about the engines?
Anything from NASA Failure Analysis? Due this afternoon.
Dr Feynman's becoming a real pain in the ass.
Well, yeah.
You betcha.
Dr Weiss? Dick.
What are you doing here?
Well, if the mountain won't go to Muhammad...
You didn't answer my calls.
So you tracked me down all the way across the country?!
Nah, nah, nah. I'm at Washington Hospital Center for a conference.
You got an hour to come over there?
Now? Yeah.
Sure. Hold on.
Um... I need to get this delivered to Dr Keel,
Presidential Commission - this address.
It's extremely important that it gets there.
Yes, sir. Thank you.
Good to see you!
With a vengeance? Mm-hm.
It's compromising your remaining kidney.
Show me the cells. It's here.
OK. That is not so pretty.
I read up on my chances if my sarcoma recurred.
What's the deal if we add in this lymphoma?
It's pretty difficult to calculate the combined...
Don't weasel it, Doc. It's math.
Look, Dick, it's not something we see.
The particular cancers you have, they're...
they're extremely rare. The chance of having them in conjunction...
Well, given what you were doing during the war...
If it even matters.
What do you think? Well, the radiation - what safety precautions were there?
For the test, I...
For the test I had a pair of dark glasses, which I never put on.
Jeez, they were... they were crazy days.
We never slept.
We were on fire, you know, getting the theory and the math
and the physics. It was a race. We thought we were saving civilisation,
but then we found out the Germans didn't have nuclear capability
and we kept on. The science was... so exciting.
Should have stopped.
We threw a party. While people struggled and died, we threw a party.
Hey, you were young.
I wasn't a child.
I guess we'll talk on the phone. Sure.
I think there are probably worse ways to go.
Hey, your hands are cold.
All the time. What is that?
It's possibly lymphoma.
The blood gets gummy. Capillaries lose their flexibility -
they can't expand.
Yeah, just talk to me about components that are flexible.
What about a solid rocket booster?
Go ahead.
Thank you, Louis.
Hey, I thought this might be helpful.
It's a section model of the SRB joint.
I don't want to see a model. I want to see the real thing.
So there are two O-rings
and they squidge in here?
Has there ever been a history of problems with them?
Well, there has been some erosion, even some blow-by.
"Blow-by" is what?
Soot getting past the first O-ring.
That would mean that the seal is incomplete?
Right, but the manufacturer said that... Morton Thiokol?
Right, Thiokol said that the blow-by never got past the second O-ring, never.
But if something prevented the O-ring from doing its job...
...if it became rigid because, for example, it was cold...?
I think what we're looking at is the O-rings
within the seal of the SRB.
Lower temperatures would diminish the flexibility.
Rubber would get harder, less malleable.
At a certain point it would be too rigid to move into the gap.
I need any data NASA have on the timings of spring-back.
Resilience of the SRB O-rings in response to temperature.
Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
Just a reminder that we have many witnesses today
and the press will be in the room.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to call the commission to order,
so please take your seats, make yourselves comfortable.
Pilot to co-pilot, fix your hair.
Our first witness is Mr Mulloy.
Mr Mulloy, would you come forward and identify yourself, please?
I am Lawrence Mulloy.
Solid rocket booster project manager for NASA
at the Marshall Space Flight Center.
All right. Commissioners? Anyone?
Dr Ride?
Mr Mulloy...
in your position at the Marshall Space Flight Center,
you'd be aware of correspondence, memos, etc?
I guess I'm wondering whether memos exist relating
to problems of launching with O - rings at low temperatures.
I understand the morning of the launch was exceptionally cold.
I'm not aware of such documents at Marshall.
It's not correspondence, but on the evening before the launch,
as a matter of routine, those of us from NASA asked our technical people
and our contractors if there were any concerns about low temperature.
Morton Thiokol, who make the solid rocket boosters, presented us
with the fact that the lowest temperature
we had ever flown an O-ring was 53 degrees,
and they wanted to point out that we would be outside of that experience base.
But having heard the discussion, we... we all concluded that there
was no problem with the predicted temperatures, and I have
a document from the management of Morton Thiokol to that effect.
Thank you. Thank you, Mr Mulloy.
You may stand down, for the time being.
There's some guy in the back who wants to say something.
I have something to add.
I beg your pardon? I... I need to add to what he said, please.
All right, sir. Please, step forward, step forward. Identify yourself.
My name is Allan McDonald. I work for Morton Thiokol.
I'm the director of the solid rocket motors project,
so I was at the launch at Kennedy.
I'd like to say something about the meeting
the night before the launch that Mr Mulloy talked about.
Our Thiokol engineers... warned NASA.
They recommended NASA not to launch below 53 degrees
and I agreed with them.
That was the coldest that we knew was safe.
So you said not to launch below 53 degrees?
And what was the actual temperature that morning?
We believed that, at launch, it was going to be much colder.
Below 32 degrees, below freezing.
NASA wasn't happy with that.
Larry Mulloy said, "My God, Thiokol!
"When do we launch? April?!"
Let me understand this... now...
are you saying that NASA applied pressure
to change the launch recommendation?
Yes, sir, there was pressure. They said, "Go review the data. "
Our people in Utah came back, and recommended to NASA to launch.
I refused to sign.
It is important that NASA be given
the-the opportunity to respond to what's just been alleged.
We must allow...
What the hell is going on here?
Some people say McDonald's doing a CYA.
"CYA". What is that? That stands for "cover your ass".
But if they were warned... The astronauts sure weren't.
I want to know what's happening right here between NASA
and the contractors. We need to talk more to HIM.
Richard. Richard, the data you wanted
on the resistance timings of the O-rings...
OK, thanks. We need to hear more from him. Can you stop Mr McDonald from...?
Hi. I need to contact Allan McDonald with NASA's Challenger Failure Analysis team.
I phoned, but I was told he's no longer in Washington.
That information is restricted.
He was on the team but he's been removed?
I can't answer that, sir.
Look, all I want to do is speak to Allan McDonald. What?!
So there's no-one I can talk to in the whole entirety of Morton Thiokol?
There's no-one who can answer my question?
Well, have a nice day!
I tried to find McDonald.
No luck, and it's clear why his bosses wanted to please NASA -
very big money at stake.
I'll catch you later.
Hey, Graham.
That spring-back on the O-ring was measured over two hours.
It's useless information.
I'm really sorry. That's what I got from Marshall.
Remember what it was to be a scientist before government got to you?
You don't think I gave you...? On purpose...?
Look, I have this grand title.
The NASA old guard, they handed me a list of who should be on the commission.
It was tough to persuade them to take you.
I'm sorry to have gotten you into this.
Well, when you read my notes that I sent,
you'll see the crap that goes down at Marshall.
Notes? My write-ups.
Those analyses and my examination of the crazy engineering.
Richard. Richard...
Sally, did you get a set of notes, my observations?
No, I haven't had anything.
What the hell happened to my notes?
Sally Ride says she didn't get them. Did the others?
OK. I had sent over from my hotel
a stack of typed-up notes, wrapped in brown paper,
proper analyses of all my observations of the engineering so far, with a request
for you to have copies made for each commissioner. I have no knowledge of this.
No such notes ever arrived on this desk. Perhaps you can have them redone?
I don't have time for this!
You trusted your hotel to deliver something so important?
Dr Feynman, please, as you can see,
NASA is now co-operating fully with all of our requests for information.
Well, then, have copies made of everything
and have it sent over to my hotel.
I don't know what's going on, honey.
I landed myself right back in a load of political crap.
People seem to know a lot more than what they're saying. 'Yeah?'
And I finally got a ton of stuff from NASA.
It's full of anomalies. How can that be critical one moment
and safe to operate the next?
Honey, I'm sorry. It's best for me to call you later.
- Are you all right? - I'm fine.
No, I feel very well.
Oh, all right. Speak tomorrow.
"Ivory soap. "
"Ivory soap. "
OK, look, this is driving me crazy. I got a room full of NASA bullshit
that just makes me more sure certain what caused the explosion.
The cold, OK? We've got a guy who agrees with us.
He gets shoved off the enquiry.
We both know why, but none of it answers.
There's a logic thing here that I'm just not getting.
It's about what is at the heart of this thing.
Why did NASA need to launch so bad?
OK, stop, Prof, I can't answer this here.
Erm... I'll pick you up in the morning. 8:15.
And bring full ID. OK?
Goodnight. Goodnight.
Where are we going?
We're going to the Pentagon?
ID, please.
Thank you, sergeant. Stand by outside.
Prof, why don't you grab a seat down here?
Right there.
NASA. The agency of the United States Government
responsible for the nation's civilian space programme
and for aeronautics and aerospace research.
Note the word "civilian" in there.
The project cost in US dollars of running the space programme...
The actual cost, I get it.
And knowing this is unsustainable, NASA needs to prove itself,
needs to bolster its purpose,
over and above civilian scientific research and discovery, OK.
So park that for a moment.
The Air Force, meanwhile, wants to upgrade Titan.
An efficient fleet of unmanned rockets to deploy spy satellites into space.
Paranoia. OK.
Whatever you civilians are told, we are still deep in the Cold War.
What's it got to do with NASA?
NASA approaches Congress with a deal.
That seems to make great economic sense,
the government can stop funding Titan and instead divert
the money to NASA, and the Shuttle becomes sole access into space.
NASA knocks out the Air Force and gets a funding boost.
Exactly. Yeah.
And the Shuttle secures its raison d'etre.
Carrying spy satellites?
And NASA convinced Congress
that by 1986 they'd be able to launch twice a month, every month,
and on each of these flights,
payload will be made available to the Department of Defense.
Titan was my project.
But NASA reneges on its obligation
and instead of giving DoD priority, they started taking Senators
up there, in... just PR stunt after PR stunt.
And then, launches start getting cancelled.
The press is beginning to notice...
Congress is getting jumpy.
Yeah, yeah, and the administration is asking questions.
And then last December, the launch is delayed six times,
and remember NASA had promised Congress launch at any time,
under any conditions, and then January 28th...
January 28th launch, it's cold...
It's very cold...
...and NASA feels under extreme pressure.
And took the risk.
They took the risk.
Why did you tell me all this?
Do you wish you didn't know?
Downstairs, you made me sign the classified information thing.
That's right.
So what's going on, Kutyna?
I mean, you got me trapped,
I can't spill any of this crap.
It would jeopardise national security, the Soviets would know.
You guys can't launch a damned thing in cold weather.
You've been playing me the whole time. From the beginning.
That weird thing in the garage.
With the carburettor, the carburettor and the cold,
I was supposed to take a hint. What is this, some kind of game to you?
No, but it was a nudge.
I heard about the O-ring via an astronaut friend of mine
who was tipped off, in secret, by a NASA engineer.
This astronaut's career has to be protected.
I had to let you get there on your own, Prof.
Prof. Don't Prof me, you don't play me, you don't screw around with me.
Listen to me and you'll understand why I'm telling you this.
I can't do anything with it! That's the point!
Don't ever tell me anything I can't open my mouth
and blab to the whole world!
I got to... I gotta get out of here.
No-one plays me. What is this, check six?
Remember, I told you that only you are independent on this commission.
Do others on the commission...
Do they know stuff?
Everyone knows some, or all,
but they're all bound. This is Washington.
What can be acknowledged, how, by whom...
You go drag me into this?
No, it's absolutely not, you're coming at it completely differently.
I told you, because I believe
that you, and only you, can use what you have,
you can use the science to cut through the bullshit,
to ensure that the real reason for those deaths gets out.
That it's made completely clear to the public.
NASA's forced to admit it, and has to reform.
I wish.
Why can't people just say things the way they are?
Cos it's politics, it's dirty, but you can, you can drive through that.
You can... What's the, what's the...
Can I have your arm, please?
What's going on?
Not now. Not yet.
Let's get a medic. You get a medic right now. Yes, sir.
80-yard touchdown!
America is many things to many people.
To a 17-year-old kid, it's the malt shop on the corner,
to Grandpa, it's the front porch in the Blue Mountains.
To the mother and her family, it's church...
I'd Like to make it clear that all procedures were proper.
This is the same process that was used in 24 successful shuttle launches
as well as previous moon landings.
I know that... Bunch of crap.
...based on the data up to January 27,
right through the launch countdown until the lift-off,
all those actions were proper.
Do you believe you exercised good judgement on the evening
before the launch, regarding the temperature? Absolutely.
I thought I'd drop these to the cleaners in the morning.
"Use Ivory Soap. 99.4% pure. "
What? What did you say?
I was just, that old Ivory Soap ad.
"Use Ivory Soap, 99.4% pure. "
Forget about the cleaners,
I got, I got notes and stuff in the pockets, so...
You sure? Yeah.
Perhaps it's time to revisit the possibility
that the Shuttle was a victim of an act of sabotage or terrorism.
NASA will present at Wednesday's televised... Jeez!
...along with members from Morton Thiokol.
Both parties will detail...
Only 99.4%, you bastards! the commission, is unclear
whether we will ever have answers as to what caused this disaster...
What's the matter?
Papa, what's wrong? What?
I have to go back to Washington.
Michelle, go back to bed, go on.
Go on, back to bed, it's all right.
You need to be here.
You need to be taken care of.
We can't come to Washington with you. She has school.
She has no idea how seriously ill you are.
I have to.
People died.
It will happen again. If I don't, what have the weeks been for?
I mean, you're the one who persuaded me.
And you said it yourself -
let someone else do it.
You can't, you don't have to carry on now.
Nobody's got the right to ask that of you.
I'm the one asking me.
I'm the one asking.
I just wanted to have you to myself for as long as possible.
Honey, will you help me?
I got to get it all down.
My notes, everything I found out.
Got to be one hell of a paper.
The original tang and clevis seal design failed to anticipate
the enormous pressure, caused by the burning propellant,
would cause the walls to bow outward,
a phenomenon known as joint rotation.
OK? Swell. My blood is freshly laundered.
Dick, you know the affects of the dialysis are only temporary.
Life is pretty temporary.
You're listening to drive time on WTBX with Steve O'Brian.
Power one-o-three on WTBX.
We are definitely addicted to our ten-in-a-row power play for all
you folks in Washington, coming up next, Miami Sound Machine...
Dr Feynman, can you comment on the progress of the commission?
What's your take on the sabotage theory?
I'm not at liberty to speak.
The commission?
Through there, sir.
I'm sorry, sir. You can't go in there.
Who says so?
Not without a tie, sir.
Give me strength.
I'm sure this is going to look a lot more dainty.
Good evening, gentlemen.
My findings, developed, processed, distilled,
I've saved you the trouble of running them off
in case the copy machine's broken.
Hey, Bill. Will you do the honours? Sure.
It's all here. Hi, Neil. Would you?
Design flaws in the boosters.
Management failure.
A cold day. You OK?
I had the flu, but now it's flown.
Why don't you just take this chair?
Thank you.
And thank you.
For your fine, patient, methodical work over the last weeks.
It's been a difficult period.
Especially for Dr Feynman.
Welcome back, Doctor.
And Doctor, I'm sure that we'll want to include some of your new material
in our final report.
Please remember this is a very important hearing.
We're expecting a lot of press.
And it will be televised, so please do be prompt. Thank you.
It's happening again, Rogers is going to bury my work.
Yeah, and I just got cornered outside by the press.
Me too.
I think they're ready to go with "unproven".
Yep, or a sniper on the grassy knoll.
I eat a lot of pickled beets.
General, I haven't a damned clue what we're going to do.
Despite what you may think, I am pleased to see you back.
General. Chairman.
We have a major difficulty.
The people who best understand the Shuttle are the people giving evidence
but they have the most to lose by explaining it clearly.
The public is simply mystified.
Somehow, we need to penetrate the fog.
Welcome back.
We know what Marshall's strategy's going to be.
Smokescreen. Manipulate the science.
Yeah, they'll make it into a fuzz dazzle.
That kills me.
I have to go.
You OK? I am fine.
I've been meaning to ask you.
Yes, Richard.
This is for a friend. An admirer.
Right. Of course.
Thanks so much, Neil.
Sorry, embarrassing but...
Anything for you, Richard. Goodnight.
Take care of yourself.
You asked me for something, now I'm going to ask you for something.
No, you picked me up a couple of weeks ago.
Morning. Morning.
There's my end of the deal.
All right.
Here's what I need from you.
A hardware store.
A hardware store. Why would a super important person want...
Do you know a hardware store that opens early? I know a place.
Come on. Get out of bed.
The astronauts' families will be seeking clarity
on what precisely caused the deaths of their loved ones.
NASA witnesses will be answering those questions...
Graham, make sure you have a section model of a SRB joint.
Are we late? We're good for time.
Hey. Morning, General. I guess this is it.
Good luck.
Would the witnesses please rise?
Do you swear that the testimony you will give before this commission
will be the truth, the whole truth
and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
I do. I do.
Mr Mulloy, did you have any apprehension
that a delay in launch would reflect badly on you or NASA Marshall?
No, not at all.
My decision to proceed with the launch as recommended
by the Thiokol official was based solely on the data
presented by Thiokol Engineering. Here comes the smoke.
This is shot right about August 19th,
and the thing of interest here is what we have seen in the O-rings.
See, the fact is, before Challenger, we had seen
no anomalous O-ring erosion for about a year.
Mr McDonald stated that he thought that what had been said was
very important - that the secondary O - ring was in a position to sealed
during the time of blow-by.
So you interpreted Mr McDonald's comment
as a statement in favour of proceeding to launch?
Yes, I certainly did because Mr McDonald was seated close by,
and it was clearly a supportive comment.
I have a question.
Can you remind me what NASA calculates the probability
of shuttle failure to be?
Failure meaning the loss of the vehicle,
and the deaths of the entire crew.
Dr Lovingood.
Certainly. That would be... in ten to the power of five.
Would you explain that?
Yes, that the probability of mission success is 100%.
Minus Epsilon.
Epsilon. That's a pretty fancy word.
Well, let's put all that you've said there into English.
So that's, that's one failure in every 100,000 flights.
So you claim that the Shuttle would fly every day for 300 years
before there would be a single failure.
That's crazy, I mean, how would you ever even test that?
NASA arrived at that figure because it was a manned flight.
Because there are people on board
but that's not a scientific calculation, that's... that's a wish.
And interesting.
But the figure is very different from that of NASA's own engineers.
Based on their direct experience,
and observation of many known component problems,
some of NASA's engineers calculate the probability of success
as only 99.4%.
In other words, that's roughly one flight in every 200 will fail.
Rogers, time out.
I think this would be an appropriate time to take a break.
One in 200!
Wow. That's not what the astronauts were aware of.
Potential disaster every three and half years.
It won't convince anybody, there's no proof,
people don't get probability, it's math.
But maybe...
The segment joint test we did, the development
and qualification motor test we did, as a basis for understanding
what we could expect to happen on the joints.
Mr Hardy. Certainly.
As we see, the temperature at which the O-rings would lose their integrity
would be in the minus 40 to 50 degree range.
Minus 40 to 50 degrees.
Fahrenheit? Sir.
So they'd maintain their integrity
down to 80 degrees below freezing? That is correct.
Mr Rogers? Oh, yes. Thank you.
These O-rings...
are supposed to expand to make a seal, is that correct? Yes, sir.
So, for the people to understand,
what if we take the O-rings out?
Not have them.
Well, then hot gas would expand through the joint.
For the seal to work correctly, the O-ring has to be made of rubber,
not something like lead, which when you... when you squash it, it stays?
Yes, sir.
Now if the O-ring weren't resilient for a second or two,
that would be enough for a very dangerous situation
and that could likely occur at low temperatures.
No, as Mr Hardy has shown,
they are effective down to minus 40 to 50 degrees.
Well, then I just have one comment for the gentlemen,
that I have always believed that any scientific concept
can be demonstrated to ordinary people,
people with no specialist knowledge or even much scientific education.
Co-pilot to pilot, not yet, just wait. What?
All right. OK, go.
See. I took some of... of this...
stuff from your seal.
And I put it in nothing more than ice water.
And I discover...
...that if you put it under pressure...
...for a while,
and then undo it... doesn't stretch back.
It stops. At the same dimension.
In other words, for a second or two, at least,
and more seconds than that,
there is no resilience in this particular material
at the temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit,
the temperature of a cold soda.
I think that has some significance for our problem.
Whatever the eventual Commission Report, I will be writing
up my own independent appendix with all my findings, all the design,
the engineering and the management problems,
which I will be handing to the President myself.
How much did NASA know about the effect of cold, Dr Feynman?
Look. Ask him.
Let us make recommendations
to ensure that NASA officials
deal in a world of reality.
Understanding technological weakness and imperfections
well enough to be actively trying to eliminate them.
NASA owes it to the citizens from whom it asks support
to be frank, honest and informative.
For a successful technology,
reality must take precedence over public relations,
for nature cannot be fooled.
Dr Keel, please.
And Mr President, this appendix has been prepared by Professor Feynman.
And by the way, I think I've figured out who was your source.
You said, "This astronaut, this astronaut. "
If it was a guy, you would have said "he. "
It's OK. I can keep shtoom.
If you ever fancy a ride in that old Buick...
Yeah. If the weather's warm.
It would have to happen pretty soon.
I'm sorry this is taking your time.
I'm not sorry.
I would have been tremendously sorry if we'd lost
but as it is, it was...
Not a good use of science.
It's a good use of science.
I'm OK.
I'm OK with it.
I guess there is a kind of afterlife.
The few bits and pieces that we do might get remembered.
...fix your hair.