The Science Channel is moving into the big leagues with the latest bit of casting news for a yet untitled docu-drama they are planning surrounding the investigation into the ill-fated 1986 launch of the Challenger space shuttle. Oscar winner William Hurt has been tapped to star in the true story, which is being produced in partnership with the BBC.

THR says William Hurt, who won an Oscar for Kiss of the Spider Woman is set to play Richard Feynman, a physicist who was brought in to investigate the explosion of the Challenger on January 18th, 1986 seconds after it launched. The drama will look into the investigation led by Feynman into the truth behind the crash that shocked the nation. Feynman was a brilliant Nobel prize winning quantum physicist who had some controversial ideas, and interesting character for the focus of a story about the Challenger.

The explosion of the Challenger is something just about everyone who was old enough at the time will always remember. It was “an indelible moment in American history” says Debbie Myer, Science Channel GM and Executive VP, and this is a new look at the secrets behind what really happened on that tragic and fateful day. Bringing in a major star like William Hurt for the project puts it at a level that isn’t usually connected with the Science Channel. The BBC involvement in this project is an interesting one, considering it’s an American story about an American physicist but there is little doubt that the loss of the Challenger in so dramatic a fashion is something many around the world still remember, so perhaps it’s not so strange after all.

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