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Disney+, National Geographic to premiere documentary special ‘The Real Right Stuff’

by Susan and Simon Veness

Witness the true account of NASA’s Project Mercury program in “The Real Right Stuff” documentary special, premiering Nov. 20 as a companion piece to the Disney+ scripted series, “The Right Stuff.”

real right stuff

It has been 60 years since NASA definitively answered the Soviet Union’s race to space by successfully sending its first astronaut into suborbital flight. On Nov. 20, the premiere of the two-hour National Geographic true-life documentary special, “The Real Right Stuff” captures the challenges and triumphs of those early days of space exploration.

The documentary tells the story of the original Project Mercury crew—John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Alan Shepard, “Gus” Grissom, Walter Schirra, Donald Slayton, and Gordon Cooper, known as the “Mercury 7”—through rare and unseen material pulled from hundreds of hours of archival film and radio broadcasts, interviews, home movies, and other never-before-seen materials.

Among the dramatic audio and imagery are:

  • Never-before-seen footage and newly synced audio – Relive the scramble to save Mercury-Redstone 4 pilot Virgil “Gus” Grissom from drowning when the spacecraft’s hatch cover accidentally blew open on splashdown.
  • Rare early radio and video recordings – Hear a wide array of news outlets’ historic audio recordings announcing the Mercury 7 astronauts, and the internal government recording outlining the formation of NASA, made possible by its predecessor, The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.
  • Never-before-seen research materials from Tom Wolfe – “The Right Stuff” author Tom Wolfe speaks with Rene Carpenter, wife of Mercury 7 astronaut Scott Carpenter, and shares his intimate handwritten notes compiled while writing the book that was later adapted into the 1983 film of the same name.
  • Newly digitized John Glenn home movies – Direct from the archives of Ohio State University, experience John Glenn’s rare personal family moments captured on 8mm and 16mm film.
  • Exclusive unseen and rare photographs – Now shared for the first time, see behind-the-scenes snapshots from the photoshoots for the Sept. 14, 1959 issue of Life Magazine, which provided a glimpse into the home lives of the Mercury 7 astronauts. Also included are rare photos taken by National Geographic’s top photographers, who were covering the Mercury space program.

Tom Jenkins, the Emmy and Peabody award-winning filmmaker (“Apollo: Missions to the Moon,” “Challenger Disaster: Lost Tapes”), acted as director and executive producer, eliminating modern-day narration and interviews in favor of his signature style, which takes viewers back to the drama and tenacity of the 1950s’ early space program.

It’s all set to the sweeping soundtrack composed by James Everingham and produced by Academy Award, Golden Globe, Tony Award, and Grammy Award winner Hans Zimmer. Each musician in the 44-piece orchestra self-recorded from home for social distancing, and their individual pieces were woven together to create a breathtaking score.

Watch the premiere of “The Real Right Stuff” on Disney+ on Nov. 20, the same day as the season finale of the historical drama, “The Right Stuff.” For more information or to sign up for service, visit DisneyPlus.com.

Check out the trailer below:

The Real Right Stuff Trailer | National Geographic

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