Zero Hour: Falling Star - Columbia on Prime

Sunday 8th August 10.15pm

Documentary Series  

Falling Star: Columbia

On February 2, 2003, 280 kilometres above the Earth, a team of NASA’s top astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia prepares to come home following sixteen-day mission. At Mission Control, a team of technicians must decide if conditions are right to bring the most complex flying vessel ever built safely to the ground. Leading the team is Leroy Cain, the crew’s lifeline to earth. The Columbia launch sixteen days earlier seemed to be a textbook success but two days after launch, video analysis reveals that a piece of foam has come loose and hit the shuttle’s left wing. What ground control doesn’t know is that the force of the hit has left a gaping hole in the wing, a hole that will prove to be the demise of Columbia.

Just over half an hour from their scheduled touch down, Columbia enters 200,000 feet above the earth’s surface. The utter cold of space transforms into violent heat on Columbia’s hull. The temperature on the shuttle’s wings soars to 1400 degrees Celsius. The heat, entering through the hole caused by the foam hit, is churning inside the left wing. Inside the command capsule the astronauts are unaware that the shuttle is irreversibly, and rapidly, disintegrating. A story about the loss of seven lives on a mission that was doomed from the start, Zero Hour uses published accounts, eyewitness interviews, and the findings of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board to examine what could have been done to save the lives of the seven astronauts onboard.

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