Premieres Saturday, October 13 at 9 PM ET/PT
on Discovery and Science Channel
Discovery’s "Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow" examines the remarkable ways NASA has changed our vision of our planet, our universe and ourselves. Covering sixty years and beyond, from the first lunar landing to the latest Mars rover to the vast network of satellites measuring the health of our planet. The embodiment of pure exploration, NASA harnesses humankind’s drive to discover, and embraces our unique need for answers—a need that may one day save us. Film builds on the long-standing history of Discovery’s NASA programming and Highlights the agency’s crucial role in tracking the health of our planet
Human beings, more than any other species, are driven by an insatiable curiosity, a remarkable ability to wonder. It is a need to know that lies deep within our DNA as we seek to answer some of time’s most fundamental questions: Where do we come from? Are we alone? What will become of us?
As NASA celebrates its 60th anniversary, Discovery once again shines a spotlight on the historic institution taking us to the moon, to the surface of Mars, to the outer edge of our solar system and beyond. But more than a moving portrait of NASA’s many accomplishments in space, ABOVE AND BEYOND also sheds light on the agency’s lesser-known area of focus— the vital role NASA has played in measuring the health of our home planet. However far NASA may travel, its gaze has always returned to Earth—monitoring our seas and skies, our ice and sands—in an ongoing struggle to meet today’s great challenge—protecting our planet.
In 1961, announcing the moon shot, President Kennedy issued a great challenge, a challenge that in many ways set NASA on its course: “We have given this program a high national priority,” President Kennedy said. “Even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us.” With ABOVE AND BEYOND, filmmaker Rory Kennedy asks: what has become of President Kennedy’s faith in human ingenuity, his grand vision and aspirations?
Though it may surprise some, NASA has always explored both space and Earth. As far back as the 1960s, Apollo 8 showcased NASA’s ability to inform human perspective. In its mission, that crew traveled 240,000 miles over three days before the dark side of the moon came into view, something humankind had only dreamed about. In ABOVE AND BEYOND, Apollo 8 astronaut Jim Lovell describes how, when the spacecraft moved around the moon, revealing for the first time the whole Earth in the distance, he could suddenly see, “the earth as it truly is: a grand oasis in the vastness of space.”
Indeed, they had come to explore the moon and instead discovered the earth. From Apollo’s Jim Lovell to the Space Shuttle’s more contemporary Scott Kelly, astronauts have returned home with a new appreciation for our planet’s uniqueness, as well as its incredible fragility. After having spent a year on the ISS (the largest human-made object in space, a scientific laboratory that weighs over 1 million pounds, travels at 17,000 mph and orbits the earth 16 times a day), Kelly states, “If we can do this, we can do anything. We just have to dream it, and dream big, and go do it.”
ABOVE AND BEYOND goes on to highlight, beyond human space exploration, the remarkable role played by telescopes and rovers, including Curiosity which landed on Mars to explore whether that planet could have once supported life. While researchers knew from earlier missions that water had previously existed on the surface of Mars, Curiosity was sent to dig deeper, answering if the water had been sweet or salty, acidic or basic—the kind of water humans could have drunk. “Curiosity has answered our question, and that answer is yes,” explains Steltzner. “The ancient wet environment, three-and-a-half-billion years ago, when life was first starting here on Earth, Mars was an environment that was habitable for life.”