Kristen Stewart To Play Astronaut Sally Ride in Limited Series “The Challenger”

Kristen Stewart will make her TV series-starring debut in The Challenger, a limited series in which she’ll play Sally Ride, the astronaut and physicist who became the first American woman to fly in space. She did this as part of a NASA space shuttle astronaut class of 1978 that was the first to be diversified and not comprised of all white men.

Kyra Sedgwick’s Big Swing Productions developed and brought the project to Amblin and is executive producing with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners and Stewart through the latter’s Nevermind production label. Amblin’s Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey are also exec producers.

Maggie Cohn will serve as the writer and showrunner; her credits include American Crime Story, The Staircase and Narcos: Mexico. This has been the hot property on the TV auction block this week, and Amazon is close to tying it down.

The series is based on The New Guys, a book written by Meredith E. Bagby, who partners with Sedgwick and Valerie Stadler in Big Swing. They are also executive producers.

In some ways, this has the tapestry to tell the successor story to The Right Stuff, which was based on Tom Wolfe’s book about the culture clash that occurred when the cockiest world’s best fighter pilots jumped into the space race that America was engaged in with the Russians. Bagby tells the story of a group that was called by their predecessors ‘The F*cking New Guys,’ as NASA sought to diversify its pilots and crew for the space shuttle program. Ride was the first woman and the first member of the LGBTQ+ community to fly into space. Also in that program was the first Black and Asian American astronauts, and a married couple. They passed all the rigorous tests to become top of the class, and egos, ambition and romance were part of the cultural clash. They were also quite brilliant.

In 1983, Ride became the first American woman to fly on the space shuttle, and became an instant celebrity. That joy was short-lived, however, when three years later the space shuttle Challenger blew apart 73 seconds into its ascent, killing all seven members of the crew. Ride then became the only astronaut to become part of the Rogers Commission, a presidential commission to investigate the disaster, and it later came out that she pinpointed the problems with O-rings that became stiff at low temperature, and that turned out to be the reason for the explosion. Ride died from cancer at age 61 in 2012, a true American hero.

The hope will be to get this ready to time the series in proximity of the Challenger disaster anniversary. That happened 38 years ago, on January 28, 1986. For Stewart, this continues a career evolution which started after the Twilight Saga films, in which she has established herself as a most watchable actress with range.

(Excerpt) Read more in: Deadline

Kristen Stewart To Play Astronaut Sally Ride in Limited Series “The Challenger”

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