Spaceflight Insider

Discovery Channel marks NASA’s 60th Anniversary with Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow

NASA 60 Anniversary. Image Credit: NASA

NASA 60 Anniversary. Image Credit: NASA

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — As a 60th anniversary tribute to NASA’s formation in 1958, the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel will be airing a 90-minute documentary entitled Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow

The documentary is scheduled to be broadcast at 9 p.m. EDT on Saturday October 13. The production features a chronology of dramatic and historical film clips as well as interviews with NASA personnel past and present. Well-produced, Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow is filled with stunning images of celestial objects.

The film follows NASA’s 60-year journey from Wernher von Braun and Explorer 1 – to the construction and ongoing use of the International Space Station. It also briefly looks ahead to the Space Launch System (SLS) and anticipated crewed voyages to Mars. But in contrast to other NASA-related documentaries, these achievements are explained in the context of a lesser-known aspect of the agency’s mission, the measuring and tracking of the health of our home planet. As Ellen Stofan, NASA’s Chief Scientist (2013-2016) explains, “When we look outward, when we understand the planets, when we go out into the universe, we’re really still trying to look back at ourselves.”

Directed, produced, and narrated by Emmy-winning journalist and social justice advocate Rory Kennedy, Above and Beyond examines the extraordinary ways NASA has changed not only our understanding of the universe, but also that of our own planet and ourselves. Stofan describes an impressive array of aspects relating to Earth’s health. Which NASA, along with other federal agencies investigate and monitor. Some of these include the rapidly melting Antarctic ice caps and the bleaching and dying of the coral reefs. 

Rory Kennedy’s narrative begins with the famous clip of President John F. Kennedy announcing NASA’s first bold goal  (“We choose to go to the Moon …”).  Given that Rory Kennedy is the daughter of Robert and Ethyl Kennedy and that JFK was her uncle, it is not surprising that she chose to end the film with a another clip from JFK. In this one he muses that humanity seeks answers to some of our most fundamental questions, including where did we come from? Ms. Kennedy concludes that today we face an even bigger challenge – the protection of our planet.

The Discovery Channel has aired a number of space-themed programs in recent years including Telescope and The Dark Side of the SunThe Science Channel features more frequent space programming which airs continuously throughout the year.

After October 13, Above and Beyond will be available on Discovery GO and Discovery OnDemand.





Jim Siegel comes from a business and engineering background, as well as a journalistic one. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University, an MBA from the University of Michigan, and executive certificates from Northwestern University and Duke University. Jim got interested in journalism in 2002. As a resident of Celebration, FL, Disney’s planned community outside Orlando, he has written and performed photography extensively for the Celebration Independent and the Celebration News. He has also written for the Detroit News, the Indianapolis Star, and the Northwest Indiana Times (where he started his newspaper career at age 11 as a paperboy). Jim is well known around Celebration for his photography, and he recently published a book of his favorite Celebration scenes. Jim has covered the Kennedy Space Center since 2006. His experience has brought a unique perspective to his coverage of first, the space shuttle Program, and now the post-shuttle era, as US space exploration accelerates its dependence on commercial companies. He specializes in converting the often highly technical aspects of the space program into contexts that can be understood and appreciated by average Americans.

Reader Comments

A well constructed film with powerful imagery. I reviewed the film here: and highly recommend seeing the film on a big screen.

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