Ever since man first ventured beyond our atmosphere into the blackness of space our imagination has soared beyond compare. We have striven to make our way back there time and time again; each time pushing the boundaries of what we previously knew as fact. Beyond providing material for science fiction novels about little green men, NASA's efforts have given a lot back to humanity in the way of technology and medical treatments. But this reward hasn't come without cost.
The crews of the Challenger and Columbia met disaster in pursuit of their dreams of space exploration. These tragic events caused NASA to re-evaluate their space program over the years. Most recently Columbia's destruction brought about a 29 month hiatus on manned shuttle missions and it wasn't until the 2005 launching of Discovery that NASA broke the earth's atmosphere.
In many ways Discovery's mission was a necessary one. For starters they were carrying a payload weighing in at 15 tons worth of supplies to the international space station. Another of the biggest reasons behind the mission involved simply determining flaws with the shuttle's design that led to the destruction of Columbia. It became well known over the weeks and months following the accident that loose tiles were to blame as the cause of the shuttle burning up upon reentry. After extensive repairs and trips back to the drawing board the team at NASA was ready to see if their hard work paid off.
Unfortunately some of the same problems still existed with the Discovery launch, even after the time NASA spent cooking up new ideas. On the way up, a newly mounted camera captured a video showing particles of foam flying off of the external fuel tank. This meant that the crew had some extensive work to do as far as investigating and repairing were concerned.
In HDNet World Report - Shuttle Discovery's Historic Mission some of their efforts are captured on video and it's definitely interesting to see the astronauts at work. From unprecedented space walks to a painstaking inspection process, this HDNet documentary takes a look at not only Discovery's groundbreaking repair hundreds of miles above Earth but also at several other facets related to the mission.
A good portion of the feature is flooded with standard information and images that we all have seen throughout the years. The launching of the shuttle, some snippets of spatial video, and clippings from news conferences are all things that you'll see by turning on one of the major news networks when a shuttle launches. It was these bits that I found the least fascinating and arguably the driest in this documentary simply because it was nothing new. Fortunately other areas of Shuttle Discovery's Historic Mission did offer new footage and stuff that generally goes unseen.
The up close and personal video from space and shots taken during the repair process of Discovery was breathtaking to say the least. With commentary from the astronauts involved in the task it provided a lot of insight into what I was watching. Other elements in the documentary that I found fascinating are probably the most mundane. Video showing how they hoist the shuttle upright and approach the launching bay was something I had not seen before. Equally fascinating was watching the pre-launch prep work that had to be done for not only the astronauts but other members of the NASA crew as well. The same can be said for the shuttle's flight home from California strapped to the back of a plane.
For the most part HDNet World Report - Shuttle Discovery's Historic Mission is not an Earth shattering documentary (pardon the pun). There is quite a bit of content here that is traditional footage of a shuttle's mission and there's not a lot of information here that you couldn't find elsewhere. Sparse commentary from people involved also keeps things a little dry and lacking in personality. Still, there is enough interesting material here to warrant a rental. I can't recommend a purchase though because once you watch the documentary there's little reason to go back and watch it again.
HDNet World Report - Shuttle Discovery's Historic Mission is presented on Blu-ray with a 1080i High Definition output and a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The quality of the video is quite good for the most part though since this is a documentary that hinges on the footage of some lesser cameras it's not clean the entire way through. Shots involving the launching of the shuttle and repair work are downright breathtaking with crisp clarity and virtually no flaw to be found in the image. Some of the behind the scenes footage and spatial content leaves those looking for HD material wanting with compression, softness, and video noise. This release isn't horrible looking by any means; it's just not crystal clear the entire way through.
With 2.0 English tracks for Dolby Digital and DTS the soundstage is limited in terms of what it offers. Remaining entirely on the front channels HDNet World Report - Shuttle Discovery's Historic Mission doesn't go out of its way to impress. There is some slight diversity to the audio mix but hardly enough to notice or be worthwhile. Like the video the sound quality is partially a product of the original recordings but for the most part it offers a good amount of clarity and little distortion. English and Spanish subtitles are included as well.
There are a few trailers included for other HDNet releases but aside from that you'll find nothing else on this disc.
HDNet World Report - Shuttle Discovery's Historic Mission was interesting to watch even though quite a lot of the content is very dry and not entirely unique. Despite that I found some of the uncommon information to be quite interesting and worth checking out if you're into space travel and NASA. Unfortunately the re-watch factor is not very high at all and the presentation of the disc leaves something to be desired compared to other blu-ray releases. It's worth renting it if you have an interest in the content.