Red Moon

For All MankindJune 26, 1969: Around the world, people gather to watch live television coverage of the first moon landing carried out by human beings from Earth. The coverage is of particular interest to those at NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, where Mission Control is packed with engineers and Apollo astronauts, watching as Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov becomes the first man to set foot on the surface of the moon.

Everyone from the American public to President Nixon demands answers – what happened to NASA’s commanding lead in the race for the moon? Chief astronaut Deke Slayton and Wernher von Braun, the architect of NASA’s Saturn V rocket, find themselves facing the questions of the press. Apollo 10 astronaut Ed Baldwin, like many of the rest of his fellow astronauts, spend the following weekend drowning their sorrows and frustrations at the bar…but Baldwin makes the mistake of opening up to a reporter about how timid and risk-averse he feels NASA has become. When his comments make headlines, Baldwin is pulled from the flight rotation, losing his seat aboard Apollo 15…assuming there is an Apollo 15 following both the Soviets’ surprise victory. NASA and the rest of America continue to pin their hopes on the upcoming Apollo 11 mission, though any talk of ramping up that mission’s schedule is squelched by the need for the crew to not land in total darkness. If, for any reason, Apollo 11 fails, the American space program will likely fail with it.

For All Mankindteleplay by Ronald D. Moore
story by Ronald D. Moore & Matt Wolpert & Ben Nedivi
directed by Seth Gordon
music by Jeff Russo

Cast: Joel Kinnaman (Edward Baldwin), Michael Dorman (Gordo Stevens), Sarah Jones (Tracy Stevens), Shantel VanSanten (Karen Baldwin), Jodi Balfour (Ellen Waverly), Wrenn Schmidt (Margo Madison), Chris Bauer (Deke Slayton), Colm Feore (Wernher von Braun), Eric Ladin (Gene Kranz), Michael J. Harney (Jack Broadstreet), Dan Donohue (Thomas Paine), Arturo Del Puerto (Octavio Rosales), Olivia Trujillo (Aleida Rosales), Ben Begley (Charlie Duke), Rebecca Wisocky (Marge Slayton), Meghan Leathers (Pam Horton), Jeff Branson (Neil Armstrong), Chris Agos (Buzz Aldrin), Ryan Kennedy (Michael Collins), Noah Harpster (Bill Strausser), Nick Toren (Tim “Bird Dog” McKiernan), Daniel Scott Robbins (Hank Poppen), Deniz Akdeniz (Paul Santoro), Brandon Bales (Winston Blake), Dave Power (Frank Sedgewick), Nick Wechsler (Fred), Steven Pritchard (Pete Conrad), Spencer Garrett (Roger Scott), Teddy Blum (young Shane Baldwin), Tony Lewellen (Coop), Jason Scott David (young Daniel Stevens), William Lee Holler (young Jimmy Stevens), Graciana Rosales (Vanessa Lyon), Jeffrey Muller (Del), Max Barsness (Tommy), Christopher Wallinger (Harvey), Paolo Cesar (Guide), Christopher Kohls (Control Officer), Curtis Fortier (Reporter #1), Brian Houtz (Reporter #2), Laura Patalano (Teresa), Frank Gallegos (Angel), Margarita Reyes (Elena), Colton Castaneda (Jim)

For All MankindNotes: Best described as an alternate history of what would have unfolded following surprise Soviet steps on the lunar surface, For All Mankind is an exercise in total speculation and facts that have come to light since the real Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, who had already made history as the first human spacewalker, was indeed the Soviets’ choice to command their first lunar mission, though repeated spectacular failures of the real N-1 rocket kept the Soviets from ever putting cosmonauts in lunar orbit, let alone landing there (launch attempts were made in February 1969, as noted in this episode’s dialogue, July 1969, June 1971, and November 1972). Additionally, Nixon’s speech – written for him in the event of the death of the Apollo 11 crew – was indeed real, written by White House speechwriter Bill Safire; the original document, repeated word-for-word in this episode, can be seen online in the National Archives.

Replaced by fictional alternates for dramatic purposes in this story were the actual crew of Apollo 10, astronauts Thomas Stafford, Gene Cernan, and John Young; of the three, only Stafford was still alive at the time this episode aired. Gene Kranz was indeed the lead flight controller on duty for the Apollo 11 landing, though he would become more famous for his relentless push to get the men of the doomed Apollo 13 mission home in 1970, which is the actual source of his quote, “Failure is not an option.” The Apollo Applications Program was a real program as well, and while it perhaps wasn’t as “sexy” as landing on the moon, it wasn’t viewed as “Siberia”, as it would beget such real missions as the Skylab space station program and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Apollo Applications was simply a typically dry name for a program that would have put the Apollo technology originally For All Mankinddeveloped for the moon landings to use for practical applications both closer to Earth, and further away, including long-duration lunar missions and even an audacious crewed orbital mission to Venus in an uprated Apollo command/service module, a mission which never left the drawing board; in real life, Apollo Applications would fall victim to President Nixon’s aggressive push for what was hoped would be a more cost-effective, reusable vehicle called the Space Shuttle.

Co-created by Star Trek: The Next Generation and Battlestar Galactica writer Ronald D. Moore, For All Mankind is staffed behind the scenes with a considerable number of alumni from both series, including writer/producers Naren Shankar, David Weddle, and Bradley Thompson, producer Steve Oster, technical consultant Michael Okuda, and casting director Junie Lowry-Johnson.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

He Built The Saturn V

For All MankindSeptember 1969: Thanks to the lopsided but miraculously survivable landing, and later successful return, of Apollo 11, NASA is still in the business of going to the moon, but when the CIA obtains blueprints for a Soviet lunar military base, the stakes get higher. Wernher von Braun and the rest of NASA have new marching orders from President Nixon to do whatever is necessary to beat the Soviet Union to this goal, beginning with Apollo 12. von Braun ridicules the idea; Apollo is meant to be a civilian scientific endeavor in his eyes. This doesn’t sit well with Nixon, however, and in Washington the wheels begin turning to oust von Braun from his very secure seat at NASA. One person who becomes key to this plan is grounded astronaut Ed Baldwin, but when invited to offer public testimony before Congress, Baldwin takes responsibility for sticking to Apollo 10’s non-landing flight plan, and then resigns from NASA to rejoin the Navy. And when von Braun is invited to testify, he is ambushed with accusations that he had full knowledge that Jewish slave laborers were worked to death to build his V2 rockets during World War II. The launch of Apollo 12 is moved up from December to September 1969, but the Soviets launch another lunar mission of their own just before Apollo 12’s liftoff, again upstaging NASA – this time by putting the first woman on the moon.

For All Mankindwritten by Matt Wolpert & Ben Nedivi
directed by Seth Gordon
music by Jeff Russo

Cast: Joel Kinnaman (Edward Baldwin), Michael Dorman (Gordo Stevens), Sarah Jones (Tracy Stevens), Shantel VanSanten (Karen Baldwin), Jodi Balfour (Ellen Waverly), Wrenn Schmidt (Margo Madison), Chris Bauer (Deke Slayton), Colm Feore (Wernher von Braun), Eric Ladin (Gene Kranz), Michael J. Harney (Jack Broadstreet), Saul Rubinek (Rep. Charles Sandman), Dan Donohue (Thomas Paine), Arturo Del Puerto (Octavio Rosales), Olivia Trujillo (Aleida Rosales), Ben Begley (Charlie Duke), Meghan Leathers (Pam Horton), Jeff Branson (Neil Armstrong), Chris Agos (Buzz Aldrin), Ryan Kennedy (Michael Collins), Noah Harpster (Bill Strausser), Nick Toren (Tim “Bird Dog” McKiernan), Daniel Scott Robbins (Hank Poppen), David Andrews (Admiral Scott Uken), Nick Wechsler (Fred), Steven Pritchard (Pete Conrad), Spencer Garrett (Roger Scott), Teya Patt (Emma), Teddy Blum (young Shane Baldwin), Jason Scott David (young Daniel Stevens), William Lee Holler (young Jimmy Stevens), Shaw Jones (Capcom), Jeffrey Muller (Del), Max Barsness (Tommy), Jason Denuszek (Magazine Photographer), Rita Khrabrovitsky (Anastasia Belikova), Rachel Rosenbloom (Doris), Jessica Amlee (Ginger), Krystal Torres (Cata), Janelle Froehlich (Pauline), Laura Long (Trish)

For All MankindNotes: Though it provides a very dramatic visual, the non-remote-controlled television camera attached to Eagle‘s descent stage could not have panned, tilted, or otherwise followed the ascent stage of the lunar module without someone still being on the ground to control it, nor could it have been detached to offer a wide-angle view of Eagle itself. Remote-controlled cameras capable of following the ascent stage up weren’t part of any Apollo mission’s standard equipment until the later missions equipped with lunar rovers (Apollo 15, 16, 17).

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Nixon’s Women

For All MankindJanuary 1970: With the Soviets having put a woman on the moon with their second lunar landing, the White House orders NASA to make it a priority to do the same. 20 women are selected as astronaut candidates: some already experienced pilots, some already working for NASA, some of them previously considered during NASA’s brief period of testing women as potential Mercury astronauts. One of the more controversial choices is Tracy Stevens, wife of Apollo 15 astronaut Gordo Stevens and herself a pilot with light aircraft experience, though she hasn’t flown since getting married and starting a family. But for political and PR purposes, Tracy has “most favored nation” status among the candidates, something which earns the scorn of the other women selected when she keeps making the cut despite scoring the lowest. When one of NASA’s Lunar Orbiter satellites detects ice in a crater – an ingredient for long-term stays on the moon, including the lunar base Nixon is demanding.

For All Mankindwritten by Nichole Beattie
directed by Allen Coulter
music by Jeff Russo

Cast: Joel Kinnaman (Edward Baldwin), Michael Dorman (Gordo Stevens), Sarah Jones (Tracy Stevens), Shantel VanSanten (Karen Baldwin), Jodi Balfour (Ellen Waverly), Wrenn Schmidt (Margo Madison), Chris Bauer (Deke Slayton), Sonya Walger (Molly Cobb), Eric Ladin (Gene Kranz), Michael J. Harney (Jack Broadstreet), Dan Donohue (Thomas Paine), Krys Marshall (Danielle Poole), Cass Buggé (Patty Doyle), Nate Corddry (Larry Wilson), Brian Stepanek (Shorty Powers), Spencer Garrett (Roger Scott), Teya Patt (Emma), Teddy Blum (young Shane Baldwin), Jason Scott David (young Daniel Stevens), Benjamin Seay (Ray Schumer), Dan Warner (General Arthur Weber), Devin McCarthy (Janice), Kate Rodman (Megan), Leia Hurst (Barbara), Benjamin Burton (Murph), Nick Echols (Chaddie)

For All MankindNotes: The incident in which Neil Armstrong had to punch out of the lunar landing research vehicle (nicknamed the “flying bedstead”) because it was about to crash was real and well-documented. Ironically, while water ice has been detected in shaded craters on the lunar surface, the first such detection took place when samples returned by the Soviet Luna 24 lander, launched in 1976, were analyzed on Earth. Confirmation of that find can be credited to NASA instruments which were carried to the moon on India’s Chandrayaan-1 probe in 2009. Given the fictitious hunt for a suitable spot for a lunar military base that is part of this series’ alternate-history plotline, it’s likely that in such a circumstance, the real Lunar Orbiter program – which scouted suitable Apollo landing sites in the span of just over a year between 1966 and ’67 – would have been extended beyond five orbiters.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Prime Crew

For All Mankind1971: The ongoing race to establish the first permanent human presence on the moon has now claimed casualties – one of the women in NASA’s astronaut training has died, and a Lunar Orbiter satellite spots debris from a failed Soviet lunar landing – debris indicating that the Soviets were ready to start building a base on this flight. Nixon again realigns NASA’s goals to favor a moon base, and the plan to land a woman on the moon is all but cancelled…except that Deke Slayton assigns the four surviving female candidates to the Apollo program, and reassigns Molly Cobb to the upcoming Apollo 15 flight, bumping Gordo Stevens from his seat. While this wins NASA points with women, it earns Slayton the most powerful enemy he could possibly have in Washington. And in the weeks leading up to liftoff, Ed Baldwin, who was reinstated to the Apollo 15 prime crew after his contrite Congressional testimony, begins to wonder if his new crewmate is ready to fly.

For All Mankindwritten by Naren Shankar
directed by Allen Coulter
music by Jeff Russo

Cast: Joel Kinnaman (Edward Baldwin), Michael Dorman (Gordo Stevens), Sarah Jones (Tracy Stevens), Shantel VanSanten (Karen Baldwin), Jodi Balfour (Ellen Waverly), Wrenn Schmidt (Margo Madison), Chris Bauer (Deke Slayton), Sonya Walger (Molly Cobb), Eric Ladin (Gene Kranz), Michael J. Harney (Jack Broadstreet), Dan Donohue (Thomas Paine), Arturo Del Puerto (Octavio Rosales), Olivia Trujillo (Aleida Rosales), Krys Marshall (Danielle Poole), Meghan Leathers (Pam Horton), Nate Corddry (Larry Wilson), Brian Stepanek (Shorty Powers), Dave Power (Frank Sedgewick), Lenny Jacobson (Wayne Cobb), Edwin Hodge (Clayton Poole), Noah Harpster (Bill Strausser), Nick Toren (Tim “Bird Dog” McKiernan), Daniel Scott Robbins (Hank Poppen), Spencer Garrett (Roger Scott), Matt Battaglia (John Glenn), Teya Patt (Emma), Tony Lewellen (Coop), Teddy Blum (young Shane Baldwin), Jason Scott David (young Daniel Stevens), William Lee Holler (young Jimmy Stevens), Dan Warner (General Arthur Weber), Tracy Mulholland (Gloria Sedgewick), Darin Cooper (Businessman), Krystal Torres (Cata)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Chapter 1

Star Wars: The MandalorianYears after the Rebel victory at Endor leaves the Empire scattered and disorganized, a Mandalorian bounty hunter brings in his latest catch…but finds that he has a choice of being paid in full in near-useless Imperial credits, or being paid half in Mon Calamari currency. With the Empire’s fall and order returning slowly under the New Republic, there’s plenty of work for a bounty hunter, but most of it tends to be low-paying retrieval of bail jumpers. But the Mandalorian is offered one job of interest: the capture and return of an “asset” – preferably alive – of importance to a man working with a group of Imperial loyalists and holdovers. The pay is good, but the details of the “asset” – other than it being a fifty-year-old life form – are frustratingly sparse. The Mandalorian takes the job, only to fall afoul of the local fauna, and then discovers that a bounty droid, IG-11, has beaten him to the life form’s hiding place, artlessly doing away with any hope of using the element of surprise in the process. There’s little choice but to team up with the droid…until the true nature of the Mandalorian’s quarry is revealed.

The Mandalorianwritten by Jon Favreau
directed by Dave Filoni
music by Ludwig Goransson

Cast: Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian), Carl Weathers (Greef Karga), Werner Herzog (The Client), Omid Abtahi (Dr. Pershing), Nick Nolte (voice of Kuiil), Taika Waititi (voice of IG-11), John Beasley (Bartender), Horatio Sanz (Mythrol), Tait Fletcher (Alpha Trawler), Ryan Watson (Beta Trawler), Dmitrious Bistrevsky (Quarren Trawler), Christopher Bartlett (Ferryman), Brian Posehn (Speeder Pilot), Emily Swallow (Armorer), Misty Rosas (Kuiil performance artist), Rio Hackford (IG-11 performance artist)

The MandalorianNotes: Set seven years after the fall of the Empire in Return Of The Jedi (and well before the rise of the First Order sometime prior to either The Force Awakens or Star Wars: Resistance), The Mandalorian is the first live-action Star Wars television series to make it into production, and the first live-action Star Wars television of any kind since 1985’s Ewoks: The Battle For Endor. There’s a dialogue nod to the first-ever Star Wars TV special with the Mythrol’s passing mention of Life Day (1978’s Star Wars Holiday Special); apparently his captor is unconvinced of his desire to celebrate a Wookiee holiday. Unlike previous bounty hunters we’ve met in the movies, the Mandalorian has his own carbon freezing facility on board his ship, so no side trips to Cloud City are necessary.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Ask Not

Star Trek: Short TreksStardate not given: Cadet Thira Sidhu is serving at Starbase 28 when it is attacked. Security officers escort a uniformed (but masked) Starfleet officer into the room, hand Sidhu a phaser, and order her to keep the officer prisoner without letting him leave. That officer is Captain Christopher Pike of the U.S.S. Enterprise, and he immediately asks Sidhu to let him contact his ship, to leave and help defend the Starbase – in short, asks her to violate the orders she’s just been given as well as key parts of her oath as a future officer. Whose orders Sidhu decides to follow will be a very real test of her Starfleet loyalty.

Download this episode via Amazonwritten by Kalinda Vasquez
directed by Sanji Senaka
music by Andrea Datzman

Cast: Anson Mount (Captain Pike), Ethan Peck (Spock), Rebecca Romijn (Number One), Amrit Kaur (Cadet Thira Sidhu), Steve Boyle (Security Officer #1), Colette Whitaker (Station 28 Computer)

Short TreksNotes: Reserve activation clauses remain seldom-used in Starfleet, though they seem to be enacted more often upon Enterprise officers who have retired from (or been relieved of) duty (Star Trek: The Motion Picture). The Enterprise may have tangled with the Tholians long before The Tholian Web (1968), though the events recounted by Captain Pike are part of a Starfleet Academy training simulation, very similar to the “psych test” endured by Wesley Crusher in Coming Of Age (1988), and may have no bearing on reality.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Chapter 2: The Child

Star Wars: The MandalorianThe “asset” proves to be a small green creature about the size of a child. When the Mandalorian discovers that IG-11’s commission involved terminating the creature, he destroys the droid and has to fight his way through other bounty hunters to secure his claim…only to discover that Jawas have raided his ship, leaving it unable to take off. With the help of Kuiil, the guide whose help he enlisted when he arrived on this planet, he strikes a bargain with the Jawas: they will return all of the parts stolen from his ship in exchange for “the Egg”…belonging to an enormous beast fully capable of dispatching even an armored Mandalorian. But just as the Mandalorian has been the “asset”‘s salvation, the tiny creature may yet prove to be his as well.

The Mandalorianwritten by Jon Favreau
directed by Rick Famuyiwa
music by Ludwig Goransson

Cast: Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian), Nick Nolte (voice of Kuiil), Stephen Jackson Powers Jr. (Jawa Elder)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Chapter 3: The Sin

Star Wars: The MandalorianThe Mandalorian delivers the child to the small enclave of Imperial holdovers, but he is curious – and perhaps worried – about what will become of the creature. Even so much as asking is a violation of the code by which bounty hunters live. Rewarded with a fairly large quantity of Beskar steel, the Mandalorian has new armor fashioned for himself, though some of his fellow Mandalorians, tired of living in hiding, question his decision to accept work from Imperial loyalists. His concern for the child’s well being, bringing to the surface memories of his own tortured childhood on the run with his family until they could no longer shelter him, finally override his oath to the bounty hunter code, and he all but single-handedly wipes out the Imperial encampment to rescue the child. The price for the Mandalorian’s compassion: he is now not the hunter, but the hunted, and his survival depends on whether or not the other Mandalorians will cover his escape.

The Mandalorianwritten by Jon Favreau
directed by Deborah Chow
music by Ludwig Goransson

Cast: Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian), Werner Herzog (The Client), Omid Abtahi (Dr. Pershing), Carl Weathers (Greef Karga), Emily Swallow (Armorer)

Notes: The Mandalorian scoffs at the suggestion that he could travel to the Core worlds to alert the New Republic to report the Imperial activity – he regards the reconstituted Republic as “a joke”. Given that the child The Mandalorianis clearly a member of the same as-yet unidentified species as Yoda, it’s possible that the “necessary material” Dr. Pershing is attempting to extract for his client could be those pesky Force-enabling, fandom-enraging midichlorians that have gone unmentioned since Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. (That movie also contained glimpses of the only other adult member of Yoda’s species seen to date, a Jedi Master named Yaddle.)

LogBook entry by Earl Green