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