Cosmosphere To Show Documentary Of Columbia Astronaut

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HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Marking the 10th anniversary of a truly tragic event in the history of space travel, comes an inspiring story about hope, friendship across cultures, enduring faith, and the resilience of the human spirit. Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope documents the untold story of Col. Ilan Ramon, a fighter pilot and the first and only Israeli astronaut. In a partnership with the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, KPTS will be premiering the film in the Cosmosphere’s newly renovated Carey Digital Dome Theater the same night it broadcasts on national television Jan. 31, 2013.

The documentary will be screened in the Kansas Cosmosphere’s Carey Digital Dome Theater at 7:30 p.m. following a reception and presentation by astronaut Steven Hawley, Ph.D. and will premiere on KPTS at 8 p.m.

“As a public television station, the mission of KPTS is to educate, engage, entertain and enrich Kansans. Beyond broadcasting a television signal throughout the region, KPTS seeks to reach out to Kansans in partnership with other similar-minded organizations,” said Chris Freshour, Director of Sales and Marketing for KPTS. “Presenting films such as Nova’s Mission of Hope before audiences at the Cosmosphere provides a forum for discussion and deeper understanding. We’re encouraged about this and future opportunities in which KPTS and the Cosmosphere can work together on our shared goal of enhancing knowledge through educational programming.”

The film follows Ramon’s “mission within the mission,” beginning with the journey of a miniature Torah scroll that had been given to a boy during a secret bar mitzvah inside the infamous Nazi concentration camp, Bergen-Belsen, into Ramon’s hands. It follows Ramon throughout the mission to the dramatic moment where he tells the story of the scroll live to the world from the Columbia’s flight deck. From the depths of hell to the heights of space, his simple gesture would serve to honor the hope of a nation and fulfill a promise made to past and future generations.

The space shuttle Columbia was destroyed on Feb. 1, 2003, shortly before the spacecraft was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107.: A piece of foam separated from the external fuel tank during the launch, striking the leading edge of the shuttle’s left wing creating a breach. During the shuttle’s high-speed reentry through the Earth’s atmosphere, superheated air entered the wing causing a structural failure that ultimately led to the disintegration of Columbia and death of all seven crew members: Col. Rick D. Husband, Cdr. William C. McCool, Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson, Col. Ilan Ramon, Dr. Kalpana Chawla, Cpt. David M. Brown and Cpt. Laurel Blair Salton Clark.

Shuttle astronaut Steven Hawley, Ph.D., flew in the Columbia shuttle in two missions prior to the disaster, STS-61C in 1986 and STS-93 in 1999.. He served on the Space Shuttle Program’s investigation board and was responsible for the group providing image analysis done to confirm various events in Columbia's ascent and entry and the group that conducted the impact testing confirming that foam from the external tank could punch a hole in the wing's leading edge. This group provided test data and engineering analysis that the Columbia Accident Investigation Board used to develop its official report. As a result of the accident, the NASA Engineering and Safety Center was established and Dr. Hawley was selected as its first Chief Astronaut. Dr. Hawley’s presentation at the Cosmosphere’s premiere event will include his experiences before, during, and after the tragedy as well as his involvement in the investigation and his relationship with the astronauts involved.

Donations of $30 for Cosmosphere Premium Members and KPTS Signal Society Members, $40 for all others will reserve a seat for the screening. Advanced reservations are highly recommended to guarantee seating. Space is limited and will be filled on a first come, first served basis. Artifacts and memorabilia related to the Columbia, Challenger, and Apollo I disasters will be available for viewing during the pre-viewing reception. Hors d’oeuvres will be provided during the pre-reception as well. A post-viewing reception with coffee and desserts will allow visitors to discuss the film and visit with other guests, astronaut Steven Hawley, Ph.D. and Cosmosphere and KPTS leadership.

To reserve tickets to the event with a donation, email or call (620)665-9310.


Encore screenings of Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope will take place Feb. 2, 2013 in the Carey Digital Dome Theater in rotation with two other KPTS documentaries, NOVA: Is There Life on Mars? and NOVA: Sputnik Declassified. Screenings to each of the three films will be offered free with the purchase of tickets for special presentations or tours relating to each film Feb. 2.

Special presentations include “Beyond the Mission,” “Curiosity Ignited,” and “The Soviet Journey.” In “Beyond the Mission,” visitors join Cosmosphere educators for an in-depth look at the Columbia mission, the disaster, the investigation, the discoveries, and our triumphant return to space. For “Curiosity Ignited,” visitors will take an exclusive tour of the Cosmosphere’s collection of Martian rovers and landers and be treated to a presentation on what’s happening right now with Mars and the Curiosity mission. In “The Soviet Journey,” visitors hear the Soviet side of the story on a special Soviet-centric tour of the Cosmosphere’s incomparable Hall of Space Museum.

Tickets on Saturday, Feb. 2, for each presentation are $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for children, military and seniors.
For advanced tickets to any presentation, call (620)662-2305 ext. 347.

The Smithsonian-affiliated Cosmosphere houses the largest collection of U.S. space artifacts outside the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. It also houses the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow. The Carey Digital Dome Theater proudly supports education. The Cosmosphere’s education department provides field trips, assemblies, and the internationally acclaimed Camp KAOS summer space adventures, which utilizes STEM principles to inspire explorers of all ages and build leadership and teamwork skills. Information about Camp KAOS can be found at For more information about the Cosmosphere and the Carey Digital Dome Theater, visit

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