THE SPACE RACE – A Riveting Documentary on the Journey of Black Astronauts

'The Space Race,' premiering on National Geographic Channel and Disney+ in February 2024, is an inspiring documentary that highlights the journey of Black astronauts in NASA, transforming Afrofuturism into a tangible reality.
The Space Race

In February 2024, National Geographic Channel and Disney+ will unveil The Space Race, a groundbreaking documentary directed by Emmy Award winner Diego Hurtado de Mendoza and Lisa Cortés. This film is a tribute to the Black astronauts who transcended barriers of social injustice to reach the stars, featuring luminaries like Guion Bluford, Ed Dwight, and Charles Bolden.

A Story of Courage and Resilience

The Space Race narrates the experiences of Black pilots, scientists, and engineers at NASA who served their country in space while facing racial inequality on Earth. The documentary spans from the pivotal year of 1963, marked by Captain Ed Dwight’s missed opportunity to reach the moon due to JFK’s assassination, to the year 2020, when the civil unrest following George Floyd’s death echoed up to the International Space Station. This film is a tale of global events intersecting with the aspirations of extraordinary individuals.

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The documentary brings the imaginative dreams of Afrofuturism into the realm of reality, converting science fiction into tangible scientific achievements. It redefines the notion of “the right stuff,” introducing new heroes and offering a fresh historical narrative. The Space Race celebrates the achievements of Black astronauts who have significantly contributed to space exploration.

The Team Behind the Documentary

The Space Race
Astronaut Ronald E. McNair, 41-B mission specialist, doubles as “director” for a movie being “produced” aboard the Earth-orbiting Space Shuttle Challenger in February 1984. McNairís name tag (“Cecil B. McNair”), beret and slate are all humorous props for application of a serious piece of cargo on this eight day flight – the Cinema 360 camera. Two of the cameras were carried aboard the Challenger to provide a test for motion picture photography in a unique format designed especially for planetarium viewing. This camera was located in the crew cabin area and a second was stowed in a getaway special (GAS) canister in the payload bay. (credit: NASA)

Directors Diego Hurtado de Mendoza and Lisa Cortés, along with producers Alexandra Bowen, Aly Parker, Mark Monroe, Keero Birla, Lisa Cortés, and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, have collaboratively crafted The Space Race. The executive production team includes Carolyn Bernstein, Frank Marshall, Leland Melvin, and Tony Rosenthal. Mark Monroe is the writer and screenwriter, with cinematography by Diego Hurtado de Mendoza and editing by Robert A. Martinez. The music, composed by Anna Drubich and Jongnic Bontemps, adds an emotional layer to the film.

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The documentary includes insights from astronauts such as Guion Bluford, Charles Bolden, Ed Dwight, Victor Glover, Frederick Gregory, Bernard Harris, Leland Melvin, Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez, and Jessica Watkins. Their personal stories offer an intimate perspective on their extraordinary journeys.

An Inspirational Documentary

The Space Race
Guion Bluford in the wind tunnel at NASA Glenn Research Center. (National Geographic/Diego Hurtado de Mendoza)

With a duration of 91 minutes, The Space Race is set to be an educational and motivational documentary for a diverse audience. It honors the perseverance and achievements of Black astronauts in the realm of space exploration.

The Space Race premieres on the National Geographic Channel and Disney+ in February 2024.

About The Space Race

The Space Race

RELEASE DATE: February 2024
DIRECTED BY:  Diego Hurtado de Mendoza and Lisa Cortés 
PRODUCED BY: Alexandra Bowen, Aly Parker, Mark Monroe, Keero Birla, Lisa Cortés, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza 
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Carolyn Bernstein, Frank Marshall, Leland Melvin, Tony Rosenthal 
WRITER: Mark Monroe 
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Diego Hurtado de Mendoza 
EDITOR: Robert A. Martinez 
MUSIC BY: Anna Drubich, Jongnic Bontemps 
RUN TIME: 91 minutes
FEATURING: Guion Bluford, Charles Bolden, Ed Dwight, Victor Glover, Frederick Gregory, Bernard Harris, Leland Melvin, Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez, Jessica Watkins

THE SPACE RACE weaves together the stories of Black astronauts seeking to break the bonds of social injustice to reach for the stars, including Guion Bluford, Ed Dwight and Charles Bolden among many others. In THE SPACE RACE, directors Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza profile the pioneering Black pilots, scientists, and engineers who joined NASA to serve their country in space, even as their country failed to achieve equality for them back on Earth.

From 1963, when the assassination of JFK thwarted Captain Ed Dwight’s quest to reach the moon, to 2020, when the echoes of the civil unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd reached the International Space Station, the story of African Americans at NASA is a tale of world events colliding with the aspirations of uncommon men. The bright dreams of Afrofuturism become reality in THE SPACE RACE, turning science fiction into science fact, and forever redefining what “the right stuff” looks like, giving us new heroes to celebrate, and a fresh history to explore. 

Are you looking forward to watching The Space Race and discovering the contributions of Black astronauts to space science? How do you think this documentary will influence the narrative around diversity in space exploration? What insights do you anticipate gaining from the personal accounts of these pioneering astronauts? Let us know what you think on Discord!



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Kevin Fenix

Professional Nerd | Amateur Human | Creative/Content Director The best way to describe Kevin Fenix is the kid you never tell what the buttons do in video games so you have a chance to win. Being 6’ 4” and Asian, he never really fit in, so he got comfortable standing out. Not only is it easy to find him in crowds, he dabbles in the culinary arts, does a little stand up and improv, and can honestly say Spider-Man is the Jesus-like influence of his life. Kevin Fenix loves dogs, movies, television, comics, comedy, and to shoot people… with video.