Whenever the American space program is featured in film, it’s usually in the context of a huge shuttle launch or someone having a problem while they’re already stuck in space. (“Houston, we’s in trouble!”) A few months ago we reported on Man Men writers creating a series set around Cape Canaveral during the 1960s space program, and while that seemed like a nice departure from the norm, it really just sounded like any other primetime drama, only with people using words like “thrusters” more often. What’s sadly absent are projects that focus on the beginning of the space race, focusing on the geniuses who made it possible for men like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to become national heroes.
Matthew Brzezinski’s 2008 book Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the Hidden Rivalries that Ignited the Space Age lays out the high-stakes competition between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. in the earlier days of the space race, presenting a fast-paced view of a sliceide of history that doesn’t always find a spotlight. Primeridian Entertainment has optioned the book’s rights for adaptation and has tapped screenwriter Nicholas Meyer to write a pilot and full treatment for an as-yet-untitled TV series.
Meyer may be familiar to readers and Star Trek fans for directing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and for writing the screenplays for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, which he also directed. He was nominated for an Oscar for adapting his own Sherlock Holmes-inspired novel The Seven-Per-Cent Solution for Herbert Ross’ film of the same name.
Besides Meyer, Primeridian is in negotiations to get Cold War experts like Sergei Khrushchev, son of former Communist Party leader Nikita, to join the film as a consultant. The book focuses on the span from the end of WWII to beyond the launch of the Sputnik spacecraft, commonly known as the “Oh fuck, we’re already losing the space race,” mini-era of American history. Maybe we’ll get to see Dwight Eisenhower get NASA started.
I don’t know about you guys, but this is exactly the kind of TV series I’d love to sink my space teeth into. Anything to bring the word “commie” back into the lexicon.