A new National Geographic series set to launch on Disney+ this fall will chronicle Alan Shepard’s historic Mercury-Redstone 3 flight.
Audiences got their first look at The Right Stuff on May 5 with Disney+ releasing a behind the scenes featurette. The 8-episode series will follow Major John Glenn played by Patrick J Adams (“Suits”) and Lieutenant Commander Alan Shepard played by Jake McDorman (“Limitless”) as they jockey to be the first American in space.
“This true story of scientific innovation and human perseverance could not be more timely,” said Courteney Monroe, president, National Geographic Global Television Networks. “National Geographic’s The Right Stuff’ is an aspirational story about exploration, ambition, determination and resilience and reminds us that human beings can achieve the extraordinary when united by a common purpose.”
The series is based on the Tom Wolfe bestseller bearing the same name. In the foreword of a new edition of the book published in 1983, Wolfe explained that the book was a product of his curiosity about the motivations that drove these early pioneers.
“What is it that makes a man willing to sit up on top of an enormous Roman candle, such as a Redstone, Atlas, Titan, or Saturn rocket, and wait for someone to light the fuse?”
The Mercury-Redstone 3, or Freedom 7 flight was launched on May 5, 1961. By modern standards, the flight was relatively sedate. Shepard and his Mercury-Redstone ride rose to an apogee of 187.5 kilometers (101.2 nautical miles) and then simply drifted back down to Earth. The whole mission was over in just 15 minutes and 22 seconds. However when you consider that Shepard was all alone in a tin can atop a controlled explosion, one begins to appreciate the courage of these early spaceflight pioneers.