‘For All Mankind’ imagines a (better) path not taken in space race

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Imagine a world where Neil Armstrong was not the first man on the moon and the Soviet Union won the space race instead.

That’s the premise of “For All Mankind,” one of the first original television series from Apple Inc. It sets the stage for an alternate history with sweeping ripple effects on everything from women’s rights and the environment to the Vietnam War.


“The competition with the Soviet Union moves out into space, the United States gets out of Vietnam early to commit more resources to the space program,” said executive producer Ronald D. Moore, who also created the series.

“Society shifts, and along the way politics and history shift to take the U.S. and the world on a more positive and optimistic path,” he added.

“For All Mankind,” which launches on the Apple TV+ streaming service on Friday, envisages a world where women, including black women, become astronauts and engines of social change decades before they did in real life, the Soviet Union never invades Afghanistan, and billions more dollars are poured into technology.

“Research into solar technology and battery technology starts to move clean energy forwards decades before it was a real thing in the United States. The fossil fuel industry starts to collapse so climate change is less of a pressing issue,” Moore said.

Apple is launching Apple TV+ in more than 100 markets for an initial $5 a month with eight original shows, including “The Morning Show,” a behind-the-scenes television drama, and sci-fi series “See.” Its initial catalog is dwarfed by Netflix Inc, Amazon Studios and Walt Disney Co’s Disney+ streaming service, which launches on Nov. 15.

Moore is known for his work on sci-fi series like “Battlestar Galactica” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” but said “For All Mankind” could not be more different.

“There are no aliens coming down, we aren’t going to have a time vortex and all that kind of stuff … This show has a very optimistic outlook,” he said.

The 10-episode drama series is as ambitious as it is global, with a diverse cast and also a strong immigration storyline featuring a Mexican girl and her father. They cross the U.S. border and both become part of NASA.

“We become a valuable part of society as immigrants instead of just being a nuisance or taking someone else’s jobs. In this show, we are trying to give an optimistic message in terms of immigrants not being treated as second-class citizens,” said Arturo del Puerto, who plays the Mexican dad Octavio Rosales.

Apple and the producers declined to give production costs but Moore called it a high-budget show and said Apple had been “generous with its resources.”

Meticulous attention was paid to recreating NASA’s Mission Control room in the late 1960s from the original architect’s plans, while a team of space historians and former astronauts and administrators acted as consultants to the writers, actors and set builders.

“This is a science fiction idea, an alternate history, but other than that everything else in the show is played in a very real key,” said Moore.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Tom Brown

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