Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Space: Last Frontier or Lost Frontier? (1994) (TV)

TV Review : A Journey Into Past and Future of 'Space'
July 14, 1994|RAY LOYND

Outer space.

Remember how those words captivated and intrigued us in the '50s and '60s?

Now, 25 years to the week after Neil A. Armstrong walked on the moon and "took one small step for man," the luster is off NASA and the space program. The moon seems much farther away than it did when Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent 22 hours scooping up moon rocks.

"CBS Reports," anchored by co-writer Connie Chung, tonight takes us on a 25th anniversary space journey, assessing the extraordinary history and cloudy future of the U.S. space program in "Space: Last Frontier or Lost Frontier?"

Interviews and archival footage catch what Chung calls the "singular joy" of the early pioneer space days, when the whole nation was enthralled. Walter Cronkite, who broadcast the July 20, 1969, moon landing, puts the thrill of that day best: "It's as if you could have stood on the dock and waved goodby to Columbus."

But as the program documents, Vietnam and a host of other events gradually took the bloom off the space lily.

We live once again NASA's self-made failures, notably the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger and recent disappointments like the malfunctioning Hubble telescope, designed to peer into the fantastic edges of the cosmos (although, in a conspicuous achievement, Hubble was surgically repaired in space).

Ultimately, the production gives space flight a divided report card. The glory days are over and skeptics on the show carry more bite, particularly given budget deficits and the sky-high price of world leadership in space. But, as someone remarks, "We can be on Mars 25 years from now. If we are able to do it--let's do it!"

"Space: Last Frontier or Lost Frontier?" airs at 10 tonight on CBS (Channels 2 and 8).
Space: Last Frontier or Lost Frontier? (1994) (TV)
Host: Connie Chung

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