The Color of Space, a motivational NASA documentary that explores the experiences of Black Americans determined to reach space, has made its internet premiere.
First arriving on June 19, the 50-minute documentary is available on NASA TV, the NASA app, NASA's social media channels, the organization's website and on YouTube.
Seven Black astronauts, both present and retired, who were each chosen to join NASA's astronaut corps and undergo training for space missions, have a compelling and thought-provoking discourse that serves as the documentary's focal point. In a panel discussion moderated by NASA Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche, the first Black woman to lead a NASA center, current astronauts Stephanie Wilson, Victor Glover, Jeanette Epps, as well as retired astronauts Leland Melvin, Bernard Harris, Robert Curbeam, and Bobby Satcher, discussed their experiences and their motivations.
The panel discussion, which was originally held at Space Center Houston on March 25, marks the first time the seven astronauts have been together for a NASA-sponsored occasion.
The agency is dedicated to fostering a culture of inclusiveness and diversity in its astronaut corps, which more closely mirrors the demographics of the American population. NASA is committed to sending the first woman and the first person of color to the lunar surface as the United States enters a new age of lunar exploration missions under the Artemis program.
In addition, talks between the astronauts with middle schoolers and students enrolled in historically black colleges and universities are captured in the documentary. The astronauts shared their personal experiences of hope and resiliency with the kids, discussed the distinct path taken by Black explorers inside NASA, and offered guidance to the next generation of explorers, scientists, and engineers.
"At NASA, our mission is to explore space and advance human understanding. To accomplish this, we must draw the most brilliant brains that accurately represent the American people,” added Wyche. "In this documentary, our Black astronauts from the past and present discuss their trips to space and provide first-person accounts of bravery and resiliency. As we work to put the first woman and first person of color on the Moon under Artemis, I hope that this movie will encourage everyone of NASA's upcoming engineers, scientists, and explorers to reach for the stars.”
Rare archive video and interviews with Guion "Guy" Bluford, the first Black astronaut, Charlie Bolden, the first Black administrator of NASA, Alvin Drew, Joan Higginbotham, and Ed Dwight, the first African-American candidate for spaceflight, are also included in the documentary.
Before the establishment of the agency, Black Americans made contributions to the American space program. It took several years for the first Black American to break the color barrier and hold the position of astronaut, despite the critical contributions that unsung heroes like the Hidden Figures made to the space program and NASA's overall purpose. The title of the documentary clearly honors the exceptional men and women who propelled themselves ahead and staked their place on the journey to space, painting a striking picture of persistence and depth within the Black community.