The Discovery Channel miniseries When We Left Earth finished up last night, covering the last two decades of the NASA, chiefly looking at the years of the Space Shuttle. I missed one episode somewhere, I think covering the SkyLab. Picking up where the Enterprise made its first test flight landed and going up through to the present day, the episodes take a good look at the glider and its history.
The episode is bracketed by the Enterprise, the Challenger, the Hubble and the Columbia, looking at the triumphs of the space program, but also some of its greatest disasters. Unlike in the first couple episodes, where we see the launches just occasionally, here, we see shuttle after shuttle fly to space and return, along with many mentions at how the space program seemed to have fallen from the public's eye, possibly one of the greater disasters that NASA has faced. following Challenger came the Hubble Telescope and it's hopes for the program, but then the massive problem with improperly machined parts. I was interested to find that the mirror was only about 1/10th of an inch off, which is why it was essentially nearsighted. Following Hubble, came the International Space Station, and then of course, Columbia, and continued work on the station. The idea that the continued exploration of space is only touched upon here. Gene Kranz, one of the mission controllers, said that to stop going to space would be to lose, but beyond that, the message is implied, but not outwardly stated. Nor is much of the controversy surrounding the idea that the moon landings were faked really addressed, just mentioned a couple of times.
As in the prior episodes, the footage here is absolutely stunning, from astronauts on spacewalks, footage of the shuttle launches and the views from Earth. One shot that particularly moved me was most likely from a camera mounted on an astronaut's helmet, as he moved hand over hand across something. The footage is so clear and crisp that I thought for a moment that I was right there with him (or her)
I need to catch a re-run of the episode before, but overall? This was a pretty good miniseries. Stunning footage and a lot of information (although they did gloss over quite a bit)