Viking wins Higginbotham's 'definitive' history of the Challenger disaster

Viking wins Higginbotham's 'definitive' history of the Challenger disaster

Viking has acquired Challenger: An American Tragedy by Adam Higginbotham after a three-way auction. 

Editorial director Tom Killingbeck acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Sophie Lambert at Curtis Brown. Challenger will be published in spring 2023. 

Challenger will be a "definitive" history of the Space Shuttle, centred around the Challenger disaster which occurred 35 years ago on January 28th 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members. 

The book will be based on the extensive archival record as well as the author’s own original reporting, and will follow a handful of central protagonists – including each of the seven members of the crew – through the years leading up to the accident, a detailed minute-by-minute account of the tragedy itself, and into the investigation that followed, concluding with the disaster of Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003. Challenger will also examine societies continuing "obsession" with the high frontier, and what it means for nations, corporations and individuals alike, says the publisher. 

Photo: Peter Eavis

Killingbeck said: "I’ve long admired Adam’s journalism, and like many others I was gripped by his award-winning first book. He is one of the most promising writers of narrative non-fiction working on either side of the Atlantic, and I hope that Challenger will mark the beginning of a long relationship with Viking. There hasn’t been a definitive account of the events leading up to the Challenger launch in book form – and with Adam’s exhaustive research and a filmic eye, the disaster is the perfect canvas for his investigative and storytelling talents. We are all enormously proud to be publishing it."

Higginbotham commented: "I’m excited to be working with Tom on this new project – and to be being published at Viking alongside so many authors and historians I’ve long admired. More than three decades since it happened, the history of the space shuttle and the Challenger disaster remains important and widely misunderstood – a remarkable story of heroism, ingenuity and hubris – and I look forward to bringing it to British readers."

Higginbotham is the author of Midnight in Chernobyl (Corgi, 2019).