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Parents' Guide to

Challenger: The Final Flight

By Matt Cabral, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Absorbing series explores space shuttle's mishaps, heroes.

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Challenger: The Final Flight begins with a scene that'll feel chillingly familiar to many of us who grew up in the 1980s. A teacher wheels a television into her classroom, preparing to watch the live launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger with her students. It's a scene many of us actually lived and will never forget. But while that moment-in-time memory is burned in ours brains, many of the details surrounding that fateful day have been forgotten to time.

Through expert use of archival footage, new interviews -- with victims' families and former space program professionals -- and other rarely-seen resources, The Final Flight not only fills in the memory gaps that have widened over the years, but weaves them into a comprehensive, absorbing account. Brilliantly blending deep dives into the space shuttle program, the exhaustive investigation into what went wrong, and surprisingly emotional, thoughtful, and comprehensive profiles of each of the astronauts who lost their lives, the series isn't another cookie cutter doc, but an exercise in thoroughly engrossing storytelling. Your mileage will vary in terms of how much you'll learn from the series, but even the most seasoned historians will be pulled in by its ability to repackage the familiar subject matter with polish, pacing, and production values to spare.

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