“ABOVE & BEYOND”

As NASA celebrates its 60th anniversary, President Kennedy’s niece, filmmaker Rory Kennedy, salutes the space agency that went “Above and Beyond” in helping achieve JFK’s vision. She joins us to share a preview.

Aired on October 12, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

SOME TENSE MOMENTS IN SPACE THURSDAY AS A ROCKET FAILURE FORCED THE EMERGENCY LANDING FOR U.S. AND RUSSIAN ASTRONAUTS.

A SOYUZ ROCKET MALFUNCTIONED TWO MINUTES AFTER LIFTOFF FROM KAZAN STAN LEADING TO AN ABORTED MISSION BUT A SAFE RETURN HOME, JUST A FEW HUNDRED MILES FROM THE LAUNCH SITE.

THE NASA ADMINISTRATOR TWEETED, QUOTE, THE ASTRONAUTS ARE IN GOOD CONDITION FOLLOWING THE ABORTED LAUNCH.

I'M GRATEFUL EVERYONE IS SAFE.

A THOROUGH INVESTIGATION INTO THE CAUSE OF THE INCIDENT WILL BE CONDUCTED.

WE MENTION NASA BECAUSE IT WAS SIX DECADES AGO THAT PRESIDENT EISENHOWER ESTABLISHED NASA.

IT WAS HIS SUCCESSOR, PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY WHO WOULD LATER SUCCEED IN HIS MISSION OF PUTTING A MAN ON THE MOON, NOT BECAUSE IT WAS EASY, BUT BECAUSE IT WAS HARD.

60 YEARS LATER AT A TIME WHEN THERE IS A DEBATE OVER FUNDING FOR THE FEDERAL AGENCY, PRESIDENT KENNEDY'S NIECE HAS MADE IT HER MISSION TO SPOTLIGHT THE CRITICAL WORK TO NOT ONLY EXPLORING SPACE, BUT ALSO OUR VERY OWN PLANET.

RORY KENNEDY'S LATEST DOCUMENTARY IS CALLED 'ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASA'S JOURNEY TO TOMORROW.'

60 YEARS AGO MY UNCLE PUT FORTH A GREAT CHALLENGE.

SINCE THEN NASA HAS JOURNEYED FAR BEYOND TO INCREASE HUMAN KIND'S FIELD OF VISION.

TODAY WE FACE A GREATER CHALLENGE, THE CHALLENGE WE CANNOT POSTPONE, ONE WE MUST WIN.

WE ARE PLEASED TO WELCOME RORY KENNEDY BACK TO 'METROFOCUS.'

GREAT TO HAVE YOU HERE.

GREAT TO BE HERE.

I ALWAYS LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR FILMS.

YOU FIND GREAT SUBJECT MATTER, AND THE STORYTELLING IS SO EXCEPTIONAL.

THANK YOU.

IT LEADS ME TO MY FIRST QUESTION TO YOU, WITH ALL THE STORIES YOU'VE DONE AND ALL THE STORIES OUT THERE, WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO FOCUS ON THIS ONE?

WELL, PART OF IT WAS MY FAMILY CONNECTION TO NASA AND, OF COURSE, THE AMAZING SPEECH YOU REFERENCED FROM MY UNCLE JACK IN 1962 AT RICE UNIVERSITY WHERE HE TALKED ABOUT LAUNCHING US TO THE MOON AND GETTING THERE WITHIN THE DECADE.

AS YOU SAY, NOT BECAUSE IT WAS EASY, BUT BECAUSE IT WAS HARD.

AND I'VE ALWAYS HAD A DEEP APPRECIATION FOR NASA AND A CONNECTION TO THE ORGANIZATION NOW THAT IT'S 60 YEARS OLD.

I THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD TIME TO LOOK BACK.

I THINK FOR MANY OF US WHO GREW UP AT THAT TIME OR IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE APOLLO MISSION, THERE WAS SUCH A SENSE OF EXCITEMENT ABOUT SENDING A MAN TO THE MOON AND EXPLORING SPACE.

I THINK WE'VE LOST THAT A LITTLE BIT.

I THOUGHT MAYBE I COULD GO BACK AND TELL THE STORY OF NOT ONLY NASA'S HISTORY BUT WHAT IT'S ENGAGED IN RIGHT NOW AND HOW TO BRING THAT EXCITEMENT TO THIS GENERATION.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THE THEME OF THIS FILM.

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF THEMES, BUT ONE I WAS STRUCK BY, AND I SAW YOU MENTION IT IN AN OP-ED PIECE THAT YOU WROTE RECENTLY.

YOU WOULD THINK, OKAY, A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT NASA, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT UP THERE, WHAT WE FOUND UP THERE.

IN THE OP-ED PIECE YOU START OFF WITH A QUOTE FROM BILL ANDERS, ONE OF THE ASTRONAUTS IN APOLLO 8.

TELL ME WHAT HE SAID AND HOW THAT INFORMS THE FILM?

APOLLO 8 WAS THE FIRST MISSION TO CIRQUE NAVIGATE THE MOON, TO GO TO WHAT'S KNOWN AS THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON.

THAT WAS THE FIRST MISSION.

WHEN THEY RAPID AROUND, THEY TOOK THIS PICTURE WHICH WAS KNOWN AS EARTH RISE, BILL ANDERS TOOK A FAMOUS PICTURE NOW, CALLED EARTH RISE.

IT WAS THE FIRST TIME A HUMAN HAD TAKEN AN IMAGE OF EARTH FROM OUTER SPACE.

AND IT WENT AROUND THE WORLD.

AND I THINK, YOU KNOW, IT WAS KIND OF THIS PROFOUND MOMENT WHERE PEOPLE SAW THIS LITTLE BLUE BALL IN THE DARK VACUUM OF SPACE.

WHAT HE SAYS IN THAT MISSION IS WE WENT TO EXPLORE THE MOON, AND WE DISCOVERED EARTH.

NASA, IN ALL THE EXPLORING THAT IT'S DONE, WHICH IS EXTRAORDINARY, NOT ONLY IN OUR SOLAR SYSTEM, BUT OUR GALAXY AND INTO THE DEPTHS OF THE UNIVERSE, WE'VE NEVER FOUND A PLANET LIKE EARTH YET, AND WE'VE NEVER FOUND LIFE.

SO WHAT WE KNOW IS THAT THIS PLANET IS PRETTY EXTRAORDINARY AND PRETTY UNIQUE.

WE'RE CHANGING IT.

SO WHAT NASA HAS DONE IS WITH THE INSTRUMENTS THAT IT CREATED TO LOOK OUTWARD, IT BASICALLY NOW HAS THEM LOOKING BACK TO EARTH.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THAT.

I THINK YOU ILLUSTRATED WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT OUTSIDE LOOKING DOWN, AND IT TEACHES US BOTH THE MAJESTY AND THE FRAGILITY OF THIS PLANET.

WELL SAID.

THE MAGISTERY WE COULD CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT THAT ALLOWS US TO SEND SOMEBODY TO THE MOON AND THE FRAGILITY, THIS THIN LINE THAT ESSENTIALLY PROTECTS US FROM WHAT WOULD BE DESTRUCTION.

YOU TALK ABOUT THIS IN THE FILM.

I DON'T WANT TO GIVE AWAY TOO MUCH OF THE FILM BECAUSE I WANT PEOPLE TO WATCH IT.

THANK YOU.

TALK ABOUT THE ROLE NASA IS PLAYING IN IT.

MOST PEOPLE THINK NASA PROJECTS OUTWARD.

YES.

TELL US ABOUT THE ROLE IT'S PLAYING IN TERMS OF, ALL RIGHT, WE HAVE SOMETHING WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH AND VERY SOON TO PROTECT OURSELVES.

A LOT OF THE RESEARCH WE HAVE ABOUT THIS PLANET AND THE HEALTH OF THIS PLANET COMES FROM NASA.

NASA HAS 19 SATELLITES RIGHT NOW THAT ARE GOING AROUND THE EARTH, AND THEY'RE LOOK AT THE DOMINATING SYSTEMS THAT DETERMINE THE DIRECTION OF OUR PLANET AND THE HEALTH OF OUR PLANET.

SO THEY'RE LOOKING AT THINGS LIKE THE WEATHER, THE ICE MELT, THE POLAR ICE MELT AND HOW THICK THE ICE IS.

THEY'RE LOOKING AT THE OCEANS, HOW WARM THE WATER IS AND HOW MUCH OF THE CORAL IS DYING.

THEY LOOK AT AGRICULTURE TRENDS.

THEY LOOK AT THE AMOUNT OF CARBON THAT'S IN THE ATMOSPHERE.

THE AMOUNT OF METHANES AND GASES, OZONE, OF COURSE, THE STORY OF THE OZONE.

THEY'RE LOOKING AT ALL THESE SYSTEMS.

AND BECAUSE OF THAT THEY'VE BEEN ABLE TO LOOK AT THE EARTH AS A SYSTEM, AS A COMPLETE SYSTEM.

NOW THAT THEY'VE BEEN DOCUMENTING ALL THESE INDIVIDUAL SYSTEMS OVER MANY DECADES, WHAT THEY DO IS THEY GATHER THAT INFORMATION NOT JUST FROM THE SATELLITES, BUT THEY HAVE AIRCRAFT THAT VALIDATE THE FINDINGS OF THE SATELLITES AND THEN THEY HAVE SCIENTISTS WHO ARE ON THE GROUND.

SO I WAS WITH THEM IN ANTARCTICA AND HAWAII.

THEY'RE IN GREENLAND, AFRICA, EVERY CONTINENT.

WITH ALL THAT INFORMATION THEY'VE BEEN GATHERING, THEY THEN GIVE THAT TO SCIENTISTS WHO THEN PUT IT INTO COMPUTER MODELS WHICH THEN GENERATE THE PICTURE THAT WE NOW HAVE.

RECENTLY THE IPCC CAME OUT WITH A REPORT WHICH WAS LARGELY BASED ON NASA DATA SAYING THAT WE HAVE 12 YEARS UNTIL IT'S GOING TO BE TOO LATE, WHERE WE HAVE TO RADICALLY CHANGE THE DIRECTION OF OUR ENTIRE PLANET UNLESS WE'LL NEVER BE ABLE TO RECOVER.

THEY ARE SCREAMING THAT WE NEED TO DO THIS.

OF COURSE, THE FILM, HAVING SPENT TWO YEARS ON THIS, THAT BECAME VERY EVIDENT TO ME IN TALKING WITH THE SCIENTISTS AT NASA.

I WILL SAY, I HAVE NO IDEA IF THESE SCIENTISTS ARE DEMOCRATS OR REPUBLICANS.

ALL I KNOW IS THEY'RE SCIENTISTS AND THEY ARE COMING OUT WITH INFORMATION THAT IS DEEPLY CONCERNING.

THEY HAVE NO AGENDA OTHER THAN TO PROVIDE THAT INFORMATION AND THEY ARE THEMSELVES DEEPLY CONC CONCERNED.

THAT'S WHERE NASA STOPS.

THEY PROVIDE THE INFORMATION TO US.

THEY CAN'T FIX IT.

THEY CAN TELL US WHAT IT IS.

AND TO OUR LEGISLATORS.

IT'S UP TO THE LEGISLATORS TO CHANGE THE POLICY.

I'M NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO SIT HERE WITHOUT REMINDING PEOPLE TO VOTE ON NOVEMBER 6 AND LOOK AT WHAT THEIR LEGISLATORS ARE SUPPORTING IN TERMS OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE ON BOARD WITH CHANGING THE DIRECTION OF OUR WORLD.

OTHERWISE OUR KIDS ARE GOING TO HAVE A REALLY HARD TIME.

IT'S NOT OUR KIDS' KIDS, IT'S OUR KIDS.

A MARVELOUS FILM, GREAT FILMMAKING.

VISUALLY BREATHTAKING.

GREAT WORK.

SO GREAT TO TALK TO YOU.

SO GREAT TALKING TO YOU.

YOU BE WELL.

YOU CAN WATCH 'ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASA'S JOURNEY TO TOMORROW,' DEBUTS SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13th AT 9:00 P.M.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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