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Discovery Backs NASA Documentary from Oscar-Nominee Rory Kennedy (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 3/22/2017 Brent Lang
© Provided by Variety

Rory Kennedy will explore the inner-workings of NASA in a new Discovery Channel documentary about the civilian space program. Entitled “Nasa: 60 Years and Beyond,” the picture is tied to the organizations sixtieth anniversary, but it won’t just be a retrospective, ticking through memorable moon landings and iconic space jockeys. Kennedy’s film will look into NASA’s future, grilling the program’s leaders and the scientists whose work it is to chart the farthest reaches of the solar system. Kennedy plans to document new technologies, such as next-generation space telescopes, as well as prototypes of Mars-bound spacecraft.

The film will air on Discovery in 2018. The cable network has been making a big bet on splashy documentaries. Last year, it showed “Racing Extinction,” a politically-charged look at looming environmental threats from Oscar-winner Louie Psihoyos, and this winter it debuted “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman,” a Tom Brokaw-narrated film about the conservation movement, at the Sundance Film Festival.

With “Nasa: 60 Years and Beyond,” the film brings another notable filmmaker under its umbrella. Kennedy is an Oscar nominee and Emmy winner, best known for “Last Days of Vietnam,” an acclaimed look at the waning days of the Vietnam War.

“Rory has assembled a wealth of stories about the organization that takes us to extraordinary places: from the ice caps of Antarctica and the coral reefs of Hawaii, to the surface of Mars, the search for exoplanets, and even back in time to the Big Bang,” said Rich Ross, Group President, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Science Channel, and Velocity in a stateent.

Kennedy will also produce the film.

“I’ve always admired the pioneering work done by NASA over its first six decades,” said Kennedy in a statement. “From President Kennedy’s bold challenge that led to the first moonwalk through the launch of the game-changing Hubble Telescope and the global collaboration required to create the International Space Station. As we move into a new era of research and exploration, NASA’s extraordinary wealth of intelligence and limitless curiosity will fuel its work to better understand our Earth and the universe.”

Clare Tucker will produce the film, along with Mark Bailey, who also wrote it. Alexandra Moss will be the supervising producer for Discovery and John Hoffman will executive produce.

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