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A quicks heads up.

 

National Geographic have made Tom Wolfe's novel into an 11 part series, it is supposedly going to air sometime in April. It will be interesting to see how it compares to the film, which was not too shabby.

 

Also, for those of you that have Amazon Prime there is a series on the platform called "Space History Sundays", get past the crappy title, he strange 3D title sequence, the superfluous contemporary interview at the start, you are in for a treat. The programmes themselves are all NASA original/period documentaries and footage. EP 3 is fascinating (the rest are good too) in that it chronicles in detail the flight of Friendship 7, John Glenn's orbital flight in Mecury. But, what is  great the original footage and sound of the flight communication is synced. I have never seen this before and I search material like this out, its well worth an hour of anyone's time even if they only have a passing interest in the space programme.

 

If we are all hunkering down for the foreseeable future at least there is some interesting stuff to watch

 

Tommo.

Edited by The Tomohawk Kid
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Thanks for letting us know about these new programmes.

 

The 1983 movie "The Right Stuff" is one of my favourites - although it does have serious flaws in regards to the true facts of the actual events. The book is much better in that respect. If the mini-series sticks more closely to the book, it should be REALLY good.

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If the miniseries is half as good as 'From the Earth to the Moon' then it will be worth watching.

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On 3/23/2020 at 4:03 AM, Eric Mc said:

Thanks for letting us know about these new programmes.

 

The 1983 movie "The Right Stuff" is one of my favourites - although it does have serious flaws in regards to the true facts of the actual events. The book is much better in that respect. If the mini-series sticks more closely to the book, it should be REALLY good.

The book isn't complete, not by several thousand rows of trees.  Tom Wolfe did not talk to the Flight Directors.  Chris Kraft's memoirs tell the story from that perspective.  

 

Then you have to start reading between the lines.  The Mercury missions took place at the cusp of a major change in the way that flight test operations were run.  During the Golden Age of the late 1940s and early to mid 1950s, there wasn't a lot of telemetry, a test pilot might have one flight test engineer, and the pilot was very much in charge.  Starting with the X-15 program, telemetry became a lot more capable, the number of flight test engineers went up, and the complexity went through the roof.  And with Mercury, there was a massive fight over who was really in charge of the mission...the astronaut or the flight director.  Kraft won that argument.

 

Another aspect that doesn't get paid enough attention was that the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps sent their A-team, the USAF sent their B-list.  Four Mercury astronauts were Naval Aviators.  Two were full Commanders with squadron command experience, one was the Class Desk for fighters at the Bureau of Aeronautics, and one was a Lt. Commander with a VP background.  The USAF sent two Captains and a Major...one grade lower than their Navy/Marine Corps counterparts.

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Of course.

 

"The Right Stuff" as a book is all about feeling and style, not about in depth historical research and accuracy. However, as a book (and film) it did far more to reactivate interest in that period of American history and generate a respect for the test pilots and the early astronauts who were largely fading into obscurity by the mid/late 1970s. It was read by people who would never pick up an astronaut's or test pilot's biography and as a result, reached a much biggeraudience. It was nominated for a number of literary prizes an won at least one. It is also Wolfe's most successful book.

 

The book is an exercise in English prose - more akin to James Joyce rather than Gene Kranz.

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On 8/25/2020 at 5:23 PM, Eric Mc said:

Hmmm - I can't say that the trailer is very enticing from an accuracy point of view.

Out of genuine interest, what's inaccurate about it? 

 

To me the Life guy is a blatant copy of Mad Men's Don Draper, but hey it's TV...

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@Eric Mc, that's a perfect description of the book, which I very much enjoyed. 

 

Greyhound was lost to Apple, and now this is lost to Disney. Oh well...

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Hopefully, these series will eventually wend their way to more accessible platforms - even perhaps DVD/Blue Ray box sets.

 

As I mentioned earlier, the whole ethos of the various permutations of "The Right Stuff" was not to create a historically accurate blow by blow account of the world of 1950s test piloting or the Mercury space programme. It was a cultural event as much as a history and it played a very important role in rejuvenating interest in that period of history in the US. The original film also created a new language of film "clichés" that have resurfaced in dozens of movies since. The most obvious cinematographic cliché used is the slow motion walk by the space suited astronauts towards the camera. That device has been used in a host of movies and TV ads ever since.

 

As for accuracy, I don't expect any rendition of accuracy from "The Right Stuff" to be honest. Even the trailer indicates that there is some deviation from the truth. For a start, I don't think that the "lecture" the astronauts are shown receiving at the start of the trailer ever really happened - at least not in such an "epic" or "mythological" way. And I have never read of actual physical punch ups between any of the seven astronauts. Yes, there were heated debates, discussions and arguments from time to time  but none of the biographies and histories I have read have ever indicated that any of them ever resorted to fisticuffs.

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