SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA: MISSION OF HOPE,
the Inspirational Story of Columbia Astronaut Ilan Ramon, Premieres on PBS on January 31, 2013 in Conjunction with the 10th Anniversary of the Shuttle Disaster
- Film Goes Beyond Tragedy to Tell the Story of a Son of Holocaust Survivors who Became Israel's First Man in Space and a Beloved Member of the Columbia Crew -
The crew of the Columbia in space. Bottom row (L-R): Kalpana Chawla, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark, Ilan Ramon Top row (L-R) David Brown, William C. McCool, Michael Anderson Courtesy of NASA.
SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA: MISSION OF HOPE is the untold inspirational story of Colonel Ilan Ramon, a fighter pilot and son of Holocaust survivors who became the first and only astronaut from Israel, embarking on a mission with the most diverse shuttle crew ever to explore space. Ramon realized the significance of "being the first" and his journey of self-discovery turned into a mission to tell the world a powerful story about the resilience of the human spirit. Although the seven astronauts of the Columbia perished on February 1, 2003, a remarkable story of hope, friendship across cultures, and an enduring faith emerged.
Directed by Daniel Cohen and produced by Christopher G. Cowen with Executive Producers Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Mark Herzog, SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA: MISSION OF HOPE is produced by Emmy Award-winning Herzog & Company/HCO and West Street Productions, and presented by Playtone. The film premieres on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 9:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the disaster and NASA's annual Day of Remembrance. The film will be followed by an encore broadcast of NOVA "Space Shuttle Disaster" at 10:00 p.m. ET (check local listings), which examines the causes of the tragedy.
"Moving tributes like this film remind us all that spaceflight always carries great risk," NASA Administrator and four-time space shuttle astronaut Charles Bolden said. "But fallen heroes like Ilan were willing to risk the ultimate sacrifice to make important science discoveries and push the envelope of human achievement."
SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA: MISSION OF HOPE goes behind the scenes to explore the "mission within the mission" for Ramon, who carried into space a miniature Torah scroll that had survived the horrors of the Holocaust, given to a boy in a secret bar mitzvah observed in the pre-dawn hours in the notorious Nazi concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen. The bar mitzvah boy grew up to become Israel's lead scientist for the mission, Joachim "Yoya" Joseph. The film follows the scroll's path into Ramon's hands, and the dramatic moment when he tells its story live to the world from the flight deck of Columbia. From the depths of hell to the heights of space, his simple gesture would serve to honor the hope of a nation and to fulfill a promise made to generations past and future.
SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA: MISSION OF HOPE took more than seven years to complete, and includes rare drawings from the concentration camp made in secret by a camp inmate, and archival NASA footage of the astronauts as they prepared for their mission. Interviewees include Ilan Ramon's widow, Rona Ramon, and other Columbia crew family members; astronaut Garrett Reisman and other members of NASA's space program; Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean; former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and many others. The film was shot on location throughout the world, from Jerusalem to the Kennedy Space Center to Washington, D.C.
Also included is personal video shot by Dave Brown, one of the Columbia's remarkable crew of men and women who, although from different backgrounds, became a true family, warmly embracing each other and Ramon and his mission. "The story takes you on a journey of the human spirit," says director Daniel Cohen. "It is an extraordinary tale of hope for the future, in the face of tragedy."
For more information about the film, visit www.pbs.org
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