As NASA prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary in October, documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy touted her upcoming documentary on the space agency, Above & Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow, that will air Discovery and Science Channel, Above & Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow.
The film tells the story of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which was established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, and it focuses on NASA’s many accomplishments. This ranges from landing astronauts on the moon to answering questions about neighboring planets, and the potential to live life off earth.
”Growing up in my family, my uncle, John F. Kennedy played an integral role in helping us get to the moon. So from a very young age, I was aware of NASA and its extraordinary accomplishments,” said Kennedy, who also narrates the film. “And now that we have had all these years behind us to take that opportunity to look back and really revisit some of these extraordinary things that NASA has done to help us understand who we are, our place in the universe, our solar system, our galaxy, the universe around us, the beginning of time.”
Depicting the modern focus of space travel, Above & Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow highlights next-generation space telescopes, prototypes for the Mars-bound spacecraft, and missions to further explore our solar system, galaxy and larger universe.
Kennedy structures the documentary to also look at the very specific efforts that NASA is focusing on here on earth. Included is our climate, our oceans, our atmosphere, how they work with each other, and what role humans are playing in that, and how it’s affecting the survivability of species on earth.
While there’s a concern that our current administration will pull funding from NASA’s Earth science project, Ellen Stofan, NASA Chief Scientist, is confident about strong bipartisan support for the agency in Congress.
“While the administration’s priorities do change, Congress has been very good about getting NASA the money it needs to do the job it’s trying to do,” Stofan said. “Obviously, what we are seeing, what we are measuring, is extremely alarming. The pace of climate change is something that is extremely concerning and that we really need to do something about. So there is concern over NASA’s Earth science budget. So far we haven’t really seen that play out yet.”
Also featured in the documentary will be Peggy Whitson, who was an astronaut in the Space Shuttle and the ISS, and holds the US record at 665 days in space; and Adam Steltzner, an American NASA engineer who works for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
”I think if you look at the next 20 to 30 years, it’s going to make everything that we’ve done so far seem really small,” said Stofan, who also consulted on the film. “We’re getting ready to send humans to the moon; and then, beyond that, to Mars, within the next 15 to 20 years. Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to get great from here on out.”
[Image of Rory Kennedy courtesy of Deadline]