PBS to air doc on Israeli astronaut

The U.S. pubcaster will mark the 10th anniversary of the space shuttle Columbia disaster with the premiere of Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope, a documentary that profiles Israel's first and only astronaut Ilan Ramon (pictured, far right).
December 13, 2012

U.S. pubcaster PBS is to air a documentary about Israel’s first and only astronaut Ilan Ramon (pictured, far right) to mark the 10-year anniversary of the space shuttle Columbia disaster.

Directed by Daniel Cohen, Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope goes beyond the causes of the tragedy to profile Ramon, one of seven astronauts that perished when the shuttle was destroyed upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere following a 16-day mission on February 1, 2003.

The film took seven years to make and includes archival NASA footage of the astronauts preparing for the mission, as well as interviews with Ramon’s widow, other Columbia crew family members, astronaut Garrett Reisman, Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean, and former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, among others.

“Moving tributes like this film remind us all that spaceflight always carries great risk,” said Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator and astronaut, in a statement. “But fallen heroes like Ilan were willing to risk the ultimate sacrifice to make important science discoveries and push the envelope of human achievement.”

The documentary will air on January 31 at 9 p.m. EST in conjunction with NASA’s annual Day of Remembrance. It will be followed by an encore broadcast of ‘NOVA’ doc Space Shuttle Disaster at 10 p.m. EST, which examines the causes of the tragedy.

Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope was produced by Christopher G. Cowen, with Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Mark Herzog serving as executive producers. The doc is a coproduction between Herzog & Company/HCO and West Street Productions, and presented by Playtone.

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Daniele Alcinii is a news editor at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joined the RS team in 2015 with experience in journalism following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and with communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.