When We Left Earth - The NASA Missions (2008)


President John F. Kennedy, astronaut John Glenn and others take part in welcome ceremonies at Cape Canaveral in honor of Glenn's successful orbital mission
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Date Added: 6 years ago.

Documentary Description

When We Left Earth is the story of mankind's greatest adventure, leaving the earth and living in space. For the first time this series has digitally re-mastered the original film and audio recordings from NASA's vaults, including and all the key on-board footage filmed by the astronauts themselves. From John Glenn's Mercury mission to orbit the earth, to Neil Armstrong's first historic steps on the moon, to the unprecedented spacewalks required to repair the Hubble telescope, these epic stories are shown in stunning clarity and told by the astronauts and engineers who were there.

The six hour-long episodes include:

NASA selects seven men to become the first astronauts. They're all test pilots, prepared to risk their lives. No one has ever survived a vertical launch on top of a rocket, but it's the only way they know to put an astronaut into earth orbit. The Mercury astronauts and engineers need to figure out how to launch a man into space on top of a converted intercontinental ballistic missile.

For Project Gemini, a new generation of astronauts arrive at NASA -- their mission, to test all the procedures required to land men on the moon and bring them safely back to earth. Each Gemini mission launches two men into space, leading to some of NASA's greatest moments -- Ed White's spacewalk, the first orbital rendezvous of Gemini 6 and 7.

The Apollo program is set to achieve the ultimate prize of the Space Race, landing men on the moon. But a fire breaks out in the pressurized capsule of Apollo 1, resulting in the deaths of Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. But NASA's astronauts and engineers turn tragedy into triumph with the first manned launch of the formidable Saturn V rocket, lifting three astronauts into deep space for the first time. Two missions later and NASA is ready to land men on the moon in the ultimate test of America's spacefaring vision.

Now that NASA has mastered the lunar round trip, they want to explore more of the moon's mysteries. With Apollo 13, they face their biggest crisis in space -- returning a damaged spacecraft back safely to earth. Undaunted, NASA launches more moon missions and a new lunar rover that allows wide-ranging lunar surface expiditions. Apollo 17 is the longest moon mission and the last time man would set foot on the moon for generations. In a new phase of the space program, NASA converts an unused Saturn V rocket into Skylab, America's first space-station. But by the time it reaches orbit it's badly damaged. For the first time, astronauts will have to work outside the spaceship to save the space-station.

For its first 20 years, NASA launches capsules carrying a maximum of three people. But new requirements for a bigger cargo bay prompt a breakthrough in spacecraft design. The development of the reusable shuttle leads to a revolutionary approach to space travel, but somebody has to test fly it in space for the first time. That requires a true test pilot, John Young, the man who sat alongside Gus Grissom on the first Gemini flight. NASA's manned programs are again leading the way, but space travel remains as dangerous as ever and tragedy again strikes NASA when the Challenger explodes.

One of the most complex instruments ever built, the Hubble Space Telescope is expected to transform our understanding of the Universe. But once it is in orbit, NASA discovers a serious problem, a defective main mirror that leaves Hubble short-sighted. NASA sends a team of astronauts to fix the problem, but it won’t be easy. It is NASA’s greatest and highest profile mission since the Apollo era. It gives NASA the confidence to begin construction on the International Space Station. More astronauts are in space simultaneously than ever before. And despite the tragedy of Columbia, NASA’s astronauts are pioneering the way back to the moon, Mars and beyond.


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