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The Space Age: NASA’s Story: Tragedy

Airs Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Geologist-Astronaut Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 Lunar Module pilot, is photographed next to the American Flag during extravehicular activity (EVA) of NASA's final lunar landing mission in the Apollo series. The photo was taken at the Taurus-Littrow landing site. The highest part of the flag appears to point toward our planet earth in the distant background.

"The Space Age: NASA's Story" offers a fresh look at an amazing organization and mankind's quest to understand the universe. Blending stunningly restored footage with revealing, insightful and engaging interviews with the people who were there - the astronauts, family members and journalists - this is an epic story of the heroes, the triumphs and the tragedies of space exploration.

Starting with NASA's beginnings in the Cold War, this four-part series follows the iconic moments of space exploration from the race to get the first man in space to the first steps on the moon. And with triumph and achievement comes risk and disaster, as the series follows the white-knuckle suspense of Apollo 13 and the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. Intelligent, inspiring and accessible, "The Space Age" is a complete history of mankind's journey into space.

"Tragedy" - With repeated triumphs and new challenges come increasing risk, until loss breaks the pattern. The white-knuckle suspense thriller of Apollo 13’s famous near-disaster is only a triumphant prelude to darker moments ahead.

The launch of the space shuttle program promises routine trips to Earth orbit for many new astronauts. But just when that promise seems fulfilled, routine shuttle launches begin to bore the public. NASA responds by training a school-teacher to fly, in order to teach children lessons from space. Christa McAuliffe’s life is tragically cut short as she and the rest of the crew perish aboard the shuttle Challenger. All missions are halted.

Eventually the shuttle returns to orbit, for fifteen years of successful missions until disaster strikes again with the shocking loss of Columbia. It would be the beginning of the end for the shuttle.

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Avatar for user 'Jockey'

Jockey | February 3, 2011 at 10:52 a.m. ― 6 years, 1 month ago

Yesterday I finished watching this 4-part series. Without mentioning the content of the program I want to comment on visual quality. Well, I don't know whether Dangerous Films shot this in HD, I would think that any company in their right mind who aims for worldwide distribution should shoot in HD. Maybe they did not, after all, they are based in Britain, and Europeans have been using widescreen SD for at least a decade. But even then, why the quality of the program looked SO HORRIBLE? Faded colors, stutter, ghosting and most of all, noticeable interlacing artifacts that could be clearly seen in the shots of talking heads. This did not look worthy of an HD channel, moreover, it looked worse than SD. You people are supposed to be professionals. Even if this had been shot in SD, you should have correctly upconverted it to HD without introducing additional artifacts. It is funny how old 8-mm and 16-mm film footage held better than spanking new interview shots. I understand that frame rate conversion between U.S. and European standards introduces tons of artifacts, but I am not supposed to see interlacing issues on my HDTV. Someone somewhere screwed up big time. Don't you dare to think that viewers do not notice this stuff. You guys must fix it and re-broadcast the program in proper quality.

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Avatar for user 'Jockey'

Jockey | February 3, 2011 at 11:06 a.m. ― 6 years, 1 month ago

Ok, I researched a bit more, and it seems that this 4-episode program is actually a rehash of a highly-acclaimed 6-episode program "When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions". I am not sure why Dangerous Films did this repackaging, but if you showed it instead or re-broadcasting "The Space Age: NASA's Story" it would be just great.

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Avatar for user 'Tammy Carpowich'

Tammy Carpowich, KPBS Staff | February 3, 2011 at 3:11 p.m. ― 6 years, 1 month ago

Hi Jockey~

Thanks so much for your comment. The program came to us from the BBC, so I don't have information on how or why the program was repackaged and distributed the way it was. Our program director is checking in with the BBC and we hope to find an answer for you soon.


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