Plot & Details
It represents a dark and all but unsung side of U.S. history: though millions are familiar with the 1950s "Space Race" that pitted the United States and the Soviet Union against one another in the contest to put a man on the moon, less publicized were the countries' attempts to spy on one another by launching military- trained astronauts (known as "astrospies") into orbit. The United States built and launched a covert satellite known as MOL (for Manned Orbiting Laboratory), designed for advanced espionage and piloted by the astrospies; it incorporated a super-powered telescope capable of viewing and identifying an object as small as three inches. The Soviets, in turn, devised a station called Almaz, with like capabilities - but theirs traveled a "step beyond," by including a cannon designed to attack occupants of MOL. For decades, this history retained a 'covert' status and went largely unacknowledged among the general public; the PBS documentary NOVA: Astrospies represents the first attempt to tell the full story of these events. It features extended interviews with the participants of the original missions, a "mock-up" of MOL, a detailed exploration and discussion of the men's training, and much more.