Programming Marks Astronaut’s Return to Earth

On March 27, 2015, astronaut Scott Kelly began an unprecedented year-long mission aboard the International Space Station. In honor of Cdr. Kelly’s return to Earth, we’re airing a series of space programs over the next two days.

Here’s our mission plan:

Tonight at 8 p.m.: Space Men: American Experience reveals the Air Force program known as Project Excelsior that sought to launch pilots into space via high-altitude balloons. This early space-flight program led to important discoveries about human’s ability to withstand gravitational forces and many of the tests developed in Project Excelsior were used in the selection process for NASA’s famous Mercury 7 astronauts.


Wednesday, March 2 at 7 p.m.: Could you stand to spend a year away from Earth? Scott Kelly’s test of space endurance aboard the International Space Station is the subject of A Year in Space, a PBS/TIME film. Cdr. Kelly’s twin brother, Capt. Mark Kelly, has been the control part of NASA’s experiment to learn about the effects of prolonged time in a zero-gravity environment on humans ‒ necessary research for eventual voyages to Mars.

Wednesday, March 2 at 8p.m.: NOVA’s First Man on the Moon is a biography of Neil Armstrong, who in 1969 became the first human to step onto the moon.

Wednesday, March 2 at 9 p.m.: The BBC’s Cosmonauts: How Russia Won the Space Race chronicles the 1950s and ′60s Soviet space program and reveals previously classified details about the USSR’s achievements and failures during the Cold War space race. The footage of Earth from outer space is stunning.

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