National Geographic Documentary Films has announced a feature documentary The Space Race, “that will uncover the little-known stories of the first Black pilots, engineers and scientists to become astronauts” and the obstacles that impacted their trajectory.
Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza will direct and produce. Frank Marshall and Tony Rosenthal of The Kennedy/Marshall Company will executive produce the film, along with Carolyn Bernstein of National Geographic Documentary Films and Leland Melvin. The project will be produced by Kennedy/Marshall’s Alexandra Bowen and Aly Parker, Diamond Docs’ Mark Monroe and independent producer Keero Birla. Monroe (Icarus, Lucy and Desi) will also serve as the film’s writer.
“The Space Race weaves together the stories of Black astronauts seeking to break the bonds of social injustice to reach for the stars, including Guion Bluford, Ed Dwight and Charles Bolden among many others,” National Geographic Documentary Films said in a statement. “Addressing the racial injustice within NASA across several decades, the film will follow these pioneers who fought to overcome not just the obstacles of their astronaut training but also the challenges that stemmed from the racial prejudice and discrimination present at the time. The Space Race will highlight how their perseverance challenged the definition of ‘the right stuff,’ even when their stories were omitted from the history books.”
“It has been a pleasure to work with co-directors Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, along with our friends at Kennedy/Marshall, to tell the inspiring, courageous stories of pioneering Black astronauts,” said Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president of documentary films for National Geographic. “We feel honored to give these trailblazers center stage in the narrative around U.S. space exploration.”
“The exploration of space has always been a place of hope and inspiration,” Cortés and Hurtado de Mendoza said in a statement. “From space, we look out into the Universe and learn about our place in it, but we also look back at Earth and learn about ourselves. A select group of astronauts are the only human beings who’ve ever seen all of humanity from this unique point of view — with its infinite possibilities and its debilitating flaws. We couldn’t have found a more supportive partner than National Geographic Documentary Films to tell the story of these brave pioneers in space exploration who opened the space program to people of color.”
The film will be available exclusively on National Geographic Channels and Disney+. No release date has been set.