Movies about the space race era have been gaining traction lately in Hollywood. The film Hidden Figures kicked off the mini-boomlet in 2016, and when it did well, Universal Pictures followed suit this year with Ryan Gosling's First Man. With the reviews of Gosling film through the roof ahead of the film's Oct. 12 premiere, it's natural other projects would hop into the race. The latest film won't be about NASA's successes, though. Instead, it will focus on the first significant tragedy the U.S. faced, with a movie about The Challenger in the works.
For those who are too young to remember, the Challenger spacecraft was one of six "partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecrafts" which comprised NASA's space shuttle program from the mid-1970s through the very early 2000s. They included such vehicles as the Enterprise, the Columbia, the Discovery, and the Atlantis. Their mission, which began in 1976, became so routine, the idea of going into space for civilians seemed a natural next step.
In the mid-1980s, a competition was held among science teachers across the United States to see who would be picked to go on a teaching mission as part of the Challenger crew, to deliver live science classes from orbit to school kids across the U.S. The winning teacher's name was Christa McAuliffe.
She never made it all the way into space. Now her story will be the focus of the film, with Michelle Williams set to play her.
According to Deadline, which broke the news:
Michelle Williams is set to star as Christa McAuliffe in The Challenger, a feature film about the 1986 space shuttle tragedy being produced by John and Art Linson and Argent Pictures’ Ben Renzo. Land of Mine director Martin Zandvliet will direct the biopic of sorts that is penned by Jayson Rothwell. A May 2019 production start is being eyed.
The plot will focus on McAuliffe's journey from schoolteacher to astronaut, and presumably her posthumous award of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
The Challenger will follow the true story of McAuliffe, a New Hampshire high school teacher who was selected to join NASA’s Teacher in Space Project. She eventually became part of the astronaut crew on the Space Shuttle Challenger, which launched from Cape Canaveral on January 28, 1986. The shuttle exploded 73 seconds after takeoff, on live TV, killing all seven aboard.
Producer Ben Renzo seemed grateful for the opportunity to tell her story.
We are more than humbled and extremely grateful for the opportunity to help tell the story of Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger mission. Christa McAuliffe’s legacy deserves the strength, courage, experience and humanity that Michelle Williams brings to the role. The entire Argent team is honored and eager to responsibly capture and share the events and personal journeys of those surrounding this important historical moment with audiences around the world to help remember and further appreciate the sacrifices Christa and rest of the Challenger crew made to further our journey into space.
With production aiming to start in the spring of next year, The Challenger will most like launch into theaters sometime in 2020.