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Parents' Guide to

Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Riveting documentary about NASA pioneers in '60s and '70s.

Movie NR 2017 101 minutes
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This film offers a compelling lesson in the history of NASA, manned space missions, and the "tough and competent" motto of the men in mission control responsible for keeping astronauts safe. Anyone who's seen Apollo 13 will remember the bravery and dedication of the men who answered the distress call of "Houston, we have a problem" with a sense of duty that wouldn't allow for failure. Mission Control tells the story of those men, who chain-smoked their way through crisis after crisis, staying overnight and ignoring all responsibilities other than those to the men in space. Despite early tragedies and the tension involved in every Apollo mission, the men also shared moments of levity and jubilation, like the celebratory cigars they lit after every successful mission.

As is historically accurate, no women and only one man of color (Asian-American Bill Moon) are shown in the film's historical portions, but the current flight directors interviewed by the filmmakers include two women. The past's lack of diversity isn't ignored; one of the octogenarian mission control veterans states that saying "manned space missions" is exactly right, because the early days of NASA mission control only involved men. (For an alternative view of how women contributed to NASA, see the excellent Hidden Figures). The interviews with the men are compelling, and it's clear they're all rightfully proud of what they accomplished together to get astronauts to space, to the moon -- and back -- safely.

Movie Details

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