Hollywood Hot for “73 Seconds” Spec About Aerospace Engineers Who Warned of Challenger Disaster

73 Seconds SpecBoston Globe

Between the Golden Globes and the Oscar nominations and the Sundance Film Festival, it’s been a while since we’ve checked in on the spec market, and a new year brings with it new scripts. One of the hottest specs currently making waves in Hollywood is ’s historical drama , which tells the extraordinary true story of Bob Ebeling and Roger Boisjoly, the aerospace engineers who discovered the “o-ring anomaly” that led to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Now, several scripts have already been written about Christa McAuliffe and the crew of the Challenger, as well as the Rogers Commission, which was formed by the government to investigate the disaster, but no one has ever written a script about Ebeling and Boisjoly, whose story is fascinating in its own right.

Boisjoly correctly predicted, based on earlier flight data, that the O-rings on the rocket boosters would fail if the shuttle launched in cold weather. He and Ebeling tried tried to convince their superiors at Morton-Thiokol and NASA to investigate the “o-ring anomaly,” but they were asked to prove their worrisome theory. This became an extremely complicated and expensive endeavor that took an emotional toll on both of their lives, but helped bring about changes to the Space Shuttle Program that saved the lives of future astronauts.

So in that sense, 73 Seconds is kind of like a cross between Hidden Figures and films like Spotlight and The Post, both of which explore the story behind the story we already know. Here were two ordinary guys who found themselves in an extraordinary situation, struggling to stop something much bigger than them. Boisjoly died in January 2012, while Ebeling died in March 2016, having spent a third of his life consumed with guilt and steeped in his own deep grief.

Sunday was the 32nd anniversary of the Challenger disaster, and the script is now being shopped by and at , and at . Stay tuned to this one, as it may not take 73 Seconds much longer than its title to find a buyer.

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One Response to Hollywood Hot for “73 Seconds” Spec About Aerospace Engineers Who Warned of Challenger Disaster

  1. The Roger and Bob story has a huge question.

    They claim to have tried to stop the challenger accident, but didn’t do enough work to have the engineering data to “prove” the accident would happen. They tried the night of 1/27/86 to stop the launch, but the idiot managers decided to launch in the cold.

    If it was truly the case that they did their best and the managers overruled them, why the “guilt” for the rest of their lives??

    The outrageous premise of this myth is that Roger and Bob were caring people and the managers were soulless idiots. They carried the guilt even though they did their best and the managers just didn’t care.

    Truth is everyone on the ad hoc “Seal Task Force” lead by Bob Ebeling and Roger Boisjoly came to realize what a poor job they did in understanding how the joint worked from an engineering standpoint. Had they been better engineers they could have easily convinced managers and others of the path to avoiding the accident. They were the cause of the death of the 7 astronauts, not the “idiot” managers.

    That is why these gentlemen suffered guilt and the managers did not.

    Tell that to Mr. Shawn Dwyer and his mythical docudrama.

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