Image Credit: NASA
Last night I watched the first two hours of the Discovery Channel's new NASA documentary, "When We Left Earth," a high-definition (and somewhat starry-eyed) look at NASA's first 50 years of manned spaceflight. Last night covered the Mercury and Gemini programs; next week will cover the Apollo moon exploration program, and in two weeks they'll cover the space shuttle. I thought it was a good documentary, and somewhat timely, as our first astronauts are aging all to quickly, and everyone my age and younger was born after the last moon landing. Alas, I don't have high-definition cable channels (I'm too cheap), so I missed the full impact of the program.
If you missed the program, I'm sure there will be re-runs; if you don't get the Discovery Channel, the DVD is already on sale (and probably available for rental).
It is easy to forget how little we knew about space just 50 years ago (Would the astronauts be able to swallow in space? Would Evel Knievel had been a better astronaut than Niel Armstrong?) and easy to forget how dangerous spaceflight really was and remains. And, as NASA prepares to send humans back to the moon, these are lessons we need to remember.