Monday, June 9, 2008

NASA'S Shining Moments

I knew "When We Left Earth" (Discovery Channel, Sundays at 9pm) was going to be right up my alley the moment I heard about it. Last night's two hour premiere did not disappoint. It's a story that's been told many times-a story I remember experiencing personally-and yet it never gets old. I get choked up every time I see the US space program's early milestone moments.

One of the great things about this series is the restored NASA footage. The Discovery Channel could not have picked a better subject to show off their digital HD capabilities. I still don't have an HD television set but my high resolution Sony Wega does just fine. I'm seeing these pictures as I've never seen them before and they are simply stunning.

The other fascinating elements of the premiere episode are the insights offered by the men who were there. The producers included interviews made over the past dozen years by many of the astronauts and engineers who have recently died. The interviews are broken up into concise discussions about the topic at hand. No single interview ever runs too long.

I enjoyed learning more about NASA engineer and manager Chris Kraft, widely considered the man most responsible for shaping the agency's direction and culture during it's first highly successful decade. Under Kraft, each individual mission layed specific ground work for the next mission; each program (Mercury, Gemini, Apollo) laid the ground work for the next program. Getting to the moon was the ultimate goal. It seems in the years since Kraft left NASA (along with all that cold war funding), our space program has suffered from a lack of focus and goals.

If you're a space buff, or a fan of 1960s American History, I highly recommend this series.


Lisa said...

One thing a lot of us definitely have in common is a love of the space program! I can't wait to devour this show!

Jane said...

I'm heading down to watch my DVR recording of it right now! It looks fantastic.