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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2008
Please forgive the tacky title - but I couldn't resist it. The 4 disc set is pretty bloomin' brilliant - cleaned up pictures and sound mean that this (along with "in the shadow of the moon")has the best images you are going to see this side of Spacecraft films exhaustive (and relatively expensive)collections.
It doesn't just focus on one aspect but covers all of NASA's manned programs.
Extra interviews with various astronauts (including Neil Armstrong and John Young) and a fair range of extras mean that this is a top notch set and is ideal for a newbie or someone with an active interest in the space program.
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67 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2008
Excellent documentary on the Space Program.
The older footage has been remastered and looks good.
The HD sequences of the launches look amazing.
The musical score is great.

The Space Race with the Mercury program. Project Gemini.
The Apollo missions with the massive Saturn V rockets.
The Challenger mission segment has candid admissions (Story Musgrave).
Footage of the first untethered EVA by Bruce McCandless is great.
The Hubble Telescope repair mission puts you in the EVAs.
Construction of the International Space Station.
Disc 4 is a Bonus Disc of original NASA films.

My only complaint with this package is the Blu-ray case. They could have used a better center hub for holding the discs. The one they used makes it difficult to remove the discs for viewing.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2008
I've seen every NASA/space documentary that I can find and this one is with out a doubt the best. I expected to see mostly old footage that had been in every other documentary but I was very surprised at how much I had never seen before.

The documentary is basically a history of NASA and covers 5 main areas. The Mercury program which was sending the first men into space to determine if people could survive in zero gravity. Next was the Gemini program which was to learn how to live in space and safely return. Next was the Apollo program which was landing a man on the moon and safely returning him to earth. Next was the Skylab program, being able to do research in space. Finally, there is the ISS program with the space shuttles. This covers the initial building of the International Space Station, the Shuttle creation with coverage of both the Challenger and Columbia disasters.

Up until this point, I felt that the Tom Hanks narrated documentary, "From the earth to the moon" was the best I'd ever seen. I think that this one surpasses it. I particularly liked all the interviews with past Astronauts and Flight Directors. The documentary makers did a brilliant job getting so many key people to be interviewed.

Even if your not particularly interest in space travel, I would suggest that this documentary is very inspiring and it really proves that people can achieve the impossible if collectively we try hard enough. It's worth a look just for all the new footage.

Overall, a very well put together and exciting documentary - even for those of us who've covered this subject extensively.
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272 of 310 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2008
Here's why I like this set:

The image quality is (mostly - see below) very good. Even with the 16mm film source the extra resolution of Blu-Ray is apparent and some of the film is staggeringly effective. As has been stated in another review, the modern interviews are pristine.
The variety and scope of the clips is excellent. The makers have sourced every possible movie from private hands (cine films) and NASA and there's a great deal I've not seen despite 40 years of interest in the subject.
The narration is well written and appropriate. This feels like a story with narrative rather than a straightforward documentary.

Here's why I dislike this set and think it's a wasted opportunity:

Despite the quality of the film clips there are some that have clear and very obvious visible and not just minor anomalies but persistent great big black blobs in the same place on the screen. This 'dirt' persists across clips taken at varied times, even months apart and in very different locations, so it wasn't on the original film. That means, logically, that it's a projection fault and that it wasn't spotted during the HD transfer to Blu-Ray. that's VERY disappointing.
More importantly there's the issue of the music. I'm British and (until recently) our TV documentaries used the original audio soundtrack alone rather than additional music. If music was used then it was sparingly and appropriate and it certainly didn't get in the way of the original audio. During this presentation the music is near permanent. It never stops except for a few seconds here and there. It drowns out narration and more importantly it all but removes the original audio. Subtitles are provided for capcom recordings (voices to and from the spacecraft) but they wouldn't be needed if the infernal music would just shut up! Not only that but the music isn't of good quality and is stupidly over-blown, false drama in every moment. The scenes are dramatic enough, leave them alone please. In the extras there are standalone clips of the astronauts training (etc) and I though at least with these there'd be the original audio but no, the music is even worse and there's NO original audio at all. Shameful. I realize that this is the norm for American TV documentaries (Nothing personal, you make the best TV in the world on the whole) but it ruins the experience and should be resisted.

So, a very very good set partially spoiled by the music and some transfer anomalies. If you can cope with the music then don't let the anomalies put you off. It's probably the best NASA footage on Blu-Ray so far but it could have been the best full stop.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2008
The six hour-long episodes include:

NASA selects seven men to become the first astronauts. They're all test pilots, prepared to risk their lives. No one has ever survived a vertical launch on top of a rocket, but it's the only way they know to put an astronaut into earth orbit. The Mercury astronauts and engineers need to figure out how to launch a man into space on top of a converted intercontinental ballistic missile.

For Project Gemini, a new generation of astronauts arrive at NASA -- their mission, to test all the procedures required to land men on the moon and bring them safely back to earth. Each Gemini mission launches two men into space, leading to some of NASA's greatest moments -- Ed White's spacewalk, the first orbital rendezvous of Gemini 6 and 7.

The Apollo program is set to achieve the ultimate prize of the Space Race, landing men on the moon. But a fire breaks out in the pressurized capsule of Apollo 1, resulting in the deaths of Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. But NASA's astronauts and engineers turn tragedy into triumph with the first manned launch of the formidable Saturn V rocket, lifting three astronauts into deep space for the first time. Two missions later and NASA is ready to land men on the moon in the ultimate test of America's spacefaring vision.

Now that NASA has mastered the lunar round trip, they want to explore more of the moon's mysteries. With Apollo 13, they face their biggest crisis in space -- returning a damaged spacecraft back safely to earth. Undaunted, NASA launches more moon missions and a new lunar rover that allows wide-ranging lunar surface expiditions. Apollo 17 is the longest moon mission and the last time man would set foot on the moon for generations. In a new phase of the space program, NASA converts an unused Saturn V rocket into Skylab, America's first space-station. But by the time it reaches orbit it's badly damaged. For the first time, astronauts will have to work outside the spaceship to save the space-station.

For its first 20 years, NASA launches capsules carrying a maximum of three people. But new requirements for a bigger cargo bay prompt a breakthrough in spacecraft design. The development of the reusable shuttle leads to a revolutionary approach to space travel, but somebody has to test fly it in space for the first time. That requires a true test pilot, John Young, the man who sat alongside Gus Grissom on the first Gemini flight. NASA's manned programs are again leading the way, but space travel remains as dangerous as ever and tragedy again strikes NASA when the Challenger explodes.

One of the most complex instruments ever built, the Hubble Space Telescope is expected to transform our understanding of the Universe. But once it is in orbit, NASA discovers a serious problem, a defective main mirror that leaves Hubble short-sighted. NASA sends a team of astronauts to fix the problem, but it won't be easy. It is NASA's greatest and highest profile mission since the Apollo era. It gives NASA the confidence to begin construction on the International Space Station. More astronauts are in space simultaneously than ever before. And despite the tragedy of Columbia, NASA's astronauts are pioneering the way back to the moon, Mars and beyond.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2008
Although the discs haven't been released as of this writing, I did watch this documentary in HD when it was broadcast. The astronauts interviewed gave fascinating insights into their individual missions and, in many cases, they were emotionally moving. It's a shame that sit down interviews like this weren't conducted before other astronauts from those early days passed on - like Alan Shepard, Pete Conrad, and Deke Slayton.
The restored NASA film from the missions are beautiful and it's quite a treat to see them again after so many years.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2009
I agree with P. White's review that this is an excellent series but has one serious flaw. I had read his review before ordering the Blu-Ray version and hoped that I wouldn't feel the same way. I don't agree with his negative comments about the soundtrack but I am in compete agreement about the dirt in the archive video scenes. There is a large blob of dirt that is almost precisely in the middle of the picture for a very large percentage of the archive footage. As he says this was not in the original footage but obviously added during the transfer process. Since this series is about one of the most significant periods in U.S. history, and includes interviews with the real participants, who won't be with us much longer, the problem is a great shame and deserves to be corrected. Discovery please consider fixing this flaw and reissuing this. I am willing to buy it again as part of a collectors edition, with additional material, if you will fix this. I was exicited to see restored footage on Blu-Ray but this dirt really detracts from the experience.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2008
When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions is a great production done by the Discovery Channel on the early years of NASA to today. It has great interviews of the surviving astronauts and members of mission control and NASA. The films and footage from the all the missions and flight tests are great.

The series on TV was so great, I decided that instead of just recording it off the dish, I bought the DVD set. Even though the DVDs had no playing problems or defects, after putting the DVD in the player I noticed several things wrong. These are the reasons that I give the product 2 stars.

1. Contrary to belief, this DVD set is not the same DVD set being offered at Discovery Channel. This set contains 3 DVDs, not the 4 being offered at the Discovery Store or on TV. The 3 DVD set on this page does not include the 4 hours of bonus footage that is included with the set at Discovery Store or [...].

2. The discs are DVD-R. I did not see this when I ordered the DVDs, but the DVDs are really DVD-Rs, the same format that you burn DVDs in your recorder or burner. Plus, the Discovery people didn't even put chapters inside the episodes, so if you wanted to go to a specific point in the episode, you will have to fast forward to it.

3. One big mistake that is definitely the fault of Discovery is that on the DVD case it says that it is 16:9 widescreen. When I played the DVDs, they were all full screen.

As I stated before, the two star rating is not on the content of the episodes, but the way this product was released by Discovery. If I knew that this DVD set had only one of the issues I listed above, I would not have purchased it.

If you want to get the real final version of When We Left Earth, search [...] because I saw that the 4-Disc version will be released in September.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2008
Of all the DVD sets out there documenting the history of NASA, I think this one is the best of them (and I've seen them all, I think.)

Firstly, the interviews with the surviving astronauts are wonderful. All of them are human, funny, honest, interesting and have new things to say. Neil Armstrong showing us his dry wit and faux-melodrama recapping was a highlight. How amazing that the doco team was able to bring out that side of his personality we've not seen before from a very shy and introspective man.

Other talking heads are of similar quality, Kranz, Borman especially. The conflict between Kraft and Carpenter is not sugar-coated either. You get both sides and make your own mind up.

Look, it's old footage. The sound isn't consistent. For audio/videophiles this isn't a test set. But it's a great history of the space program which focuses on the men and women involved, and how each step was painstakingly taken with great daring and risk, but also with courage and purpose and vision. That sounds overly sentimental, but to me it was inspiring as many other NASA docs have not been. And there is considerable footage that I hadn't seen before and most of it is amazing quality.

For anyone who wants a capsule of NASA's history, this one will do it. There are other supplemental sets which focus more on engineering aspects, or give you the complete mission reports, but this is an overview from the crews' perspective without getting into detail too deeply.

It's very well-edited, paced nicely and nothing is repeated or duplicated so no wasted time hearing the same old stuff again from somebody else, which happens in the older series.

I loved it. Right to the top of my faves list, up there with From the Earth To the Moon, in fact they make a nice couple - the dramatic re-enactment mini-series, followed by the real guys talking about what actually happened.

Great work Disco channel. Didn't think you had it in you any more.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2008
This is an excellent documentary about the history of space flight.
Even though most of the actual footage is not HD (all interviews seem to be as well as some shuttle footage), it's really enjoyable and very interesting.
It covers all the stages , Mercury, Gemini , Apollo, Skylab, the Shuttle and the International Space Station. It also offers some insight into the unfortunate Challenger and Columbia accidents.
Highly recommended for those interested in space exploration, not so much for those looking for the ultimate ultra-sharp images on BD.
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