National Geographic Channel’s “Mars” miniseries blends a fictional tale about Mars colonists in 2033 with modern-day musings about Red Planet missions – and so does today’s trailer for the six-part series, which is due to air in November.
The book/TV project has some heavy hitters behind it, including executive producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, who were also behind the movie “Apollo 13.”
Heavy hitters also appear on screen in the trailer:
- SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who has his heart set on sending colonists to Mars in the mid-2020s, even before the time frame featured in the series. “Creating a self-sustaining civilization on Mars would be the greatest adventure ever in human history,” he says in the clip.
- XPRIZE founder Peter Diamandis, who helped open the era of private-sector spaceflight with the Ansari X Prize in 2004. “Right now, we’re becoming a multiplanetary species,” he says.
- Mars Society President Robert Zubrin, who has been beating the drum for trips to the Red Planet (and simulations on Earth) for decades. “You have these people taking immense risks, ” he says.
- Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who followed in Carl Sagan’s footsteps and brought science to prime time as the host of the “Cosmos” reboot. “Earth’s surface is the shoreline of a new ocean,” he says, echoing John F. Kennedy’s phrase for the space frontier.
Those sound bites are interspersed with scenes from the 2033 mission, including dramatic computer-generated vistas as well as crew crises that will make you feel like you’re watching the sequel to “The Martian.”
National Geographic Channel has also set up a website to keep you posted on the mission, which is to be launched in 2033 from Kennedy Space Center by two non-governmental space ventures called the Mars Mission Corporation and the International Mars Science Foundation.
The Red Planet journey is presented as the opening move in a colonization effort that’s scheduled to continue with landings in 2035 and 2037.
Six crew members are in on the trip – two Americans, plus spacefliers from Spain, France, Russia and Nigeria. The mission commander is played by Ben Cotton, a veteran of sci-fi sagas ranging from “Taken” to “Defiance” and beyond. And just as in “The Martian,” there’s a tightly wound team at Mission Control back on Earth.
In addition to the miniseries and the website, National Geographic will be putting out a book tie-in titled “Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet,” written by longtime space reporter Leonard David with a foreword by Ron Howard.
“Mars” is definitely something to put on your viewing calendar for November. But wait, there’s more: Howard and Grazer have also signed up to work on a screen adaptation of “Seveneves,” the novel by Seattle sci-fi author Neal Stephenson that ended up on Bill Gates’ reading list. (Let me note that “Seveneves” was on my reading list first.)