Space IMAX Films Launch to Small Screen

The Ultimate Test Flight: NASA's Shuttle Fleet at 25
NASA's Columbia orbiter launches skyward on April 12, 1981 on NASA's first-ever shuttle flight, STS-1. Commanding the 54-hour mission was astronaut veteran John Young with then-rookie flyer Robert Crippen as pilot. (Image credit: NASA.)

A series of IMAXspace films that launched the grandeur of human spaceflight onto expansive screensaround the world is headed for televisions across the United States, even asastronauts prepare to make a new film at the Hubble Space Telescope next month.

On Sunday,April 12, the Documentary Channel will broadcast the first of its catalogue of21 IMAX films to celebrate the birthof human spaceflight and NASA?s space shuttle fleet. The three-film marathonkicks off with the 1982 film ?Hail Columbia!? in high-definition and will airon the simultaneous anniversaries of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin?s historic first spaceflight in1961 and NASA?s inaugural launch of the space shuttle Columbia in 1981.

?It is onlyfitting that we premiere these three magnificent IMAX films, including"Hail Columbia", on this same date to celebrate one of America?sgreatest achievements and to recognize the heroes and triumphs of NASA,"Documentary Channel founder and CEO Tom Neff told

TheDocumentary Channel is the first cable network to secure the U.S. televisionrights for the entire IMAX XXI Film Package, the network said. Some titles,though, havebeen released on DVD.

In additionto ?Hail Columbia!,? which chronicles the debut flight of NASA?sfirst space shuttle, the Columbia orbiter, the channel will also premierethe 2002 documentary ?Space Station? and the 1994 film ?Destiny in Space? onSunday night. Other IMAX films, including the space exploration features ?TheDream is Alive? and ?Mission to Mir,? will follow beginning April 19.

The groupof films also includes recent IMAX productions such as ?MagnificentDesolation: Walking on the Moon.?

TheDocumentary Channel?s IMAX film line-up comes as seven astronauts are preparingto launch withtheir own IMAX camera to document NASA?s fifth and final mission tooverhaul the Hubble Space Telescope.

Commandedby veteran astronaut Scott Altman, the mission is slated to launch May 12 andinclude five back-to-back spacewalks to add new instruments to Hubble, replaceailing batteries and gyroscopes, add a docking ring for future robotic vehiclesand repair equipment that was never designed to be fixed in space.

That Hubble IMAX film is set for release in 2010 and will mark Warner Bros. Pictures' first-ever venture into space, NASA officials have said.

TheDocumentary Channel?s space IMAX film line-up premieres Sunday, April 12 at8:00 p.m. ET/PT. Check local listings.

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  • Image Gallery - Views of IMAX?s Magnificent Desolation
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