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Space Shuttle Lives Forever on Film

As NASA readies last flight, we find 5 movies where the shuttle stars

Space Shuttle movies Space Camp

From left: Larry B. Scott, Tate Donovan, Kate Capshaw and Lea Thompson in Space Camp. — Photo Courtesy Everett Collection

Space Camp (1986)

You have to pity the producers of Space Camp, who in June of 1986 — barely six months after the shuttle Challenger had exploded on launch — tried to sell America on a lighthearted adventure about some teenagers who are accidentally launched aboard a space shuttle. It was too soon for a movie about children pushing the buttons of a space shuttle; it was more the stuff of black comedy than summer enchantment.

It's no surprise that America, still heartsick over Challenger, abandoned the Space Camp ship, despite a cast of then-and-future stars, including Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston, and Joaquin Phoenix as the kids and Kate Capshaw as their reluctant adult pilot.

Nearly a quarter-century later, though, it seems OK to bring children back aboard a shuttle, and Space Camp succeeds at being what it was intended to be: A kids adventure novel come to life, placing youngsters in the unexpected roles of grownups and enabling them to prove to the world, and themselves, that they have what it takes to succeed in life.

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