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Failure Is Not an Option (2003)

A history of the U.S. manned space program from Mercury to Apollo 17, as seen by the men of Mission Control.
Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gene Kranz Gene Kranz ... Himself - NASA Flight Director
James Doolittle James Doolittle ... Himself (archive footage) (as Gen. Jimmy Doolittle)
Christopher Kraft Christopher Kraft ... Himself - NASA Flight Director
Robert Seamans Robert Seamans ... Himself - NASA Associate Administrator
Alan Shepard Alan Shepard ... Himself (archive footage)
John F. Kennedy ... Himself (archive footage)
John Glenn ... Himself (archive footage)
Jerry Bostick Jerry Bostick ... Himself - NASA Flight Controller
John Llewellyn John Llewellyn ... Himself - NASA Flight Controller
Jay Greene Jay Greene ... Himself - NASA Flight Controller
John Aaron John Aaron ... Himself - NASA Flight Controller
Ed Fendell Ed Fendell ... Himself - NASA Flight Controller
Jim Lovell ... Himself - Astronaut
Alexey Leonov Alexey Leonov ... Himself (archive footage) (as Alexei Leonov)
Wally Schirra Wally Schirra ... Himself - Astronaut


A history of the U.S. manned space program from Mercury to Apollo 17, as seen by the men of Mission Control.

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TV-PG | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

History Channel





Release Date:

24 August 2003 (USA) See more »

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Did You Know?


The narrator says, "The silver wings that would carry Gene Kranz aloft were born not of laughter, but fire." This is a reference to the famous poem "High Flight" by RCAF pilot John Gillespie Magee; the poem's first lines are, "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth, and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings." See more »


John Aaron: I was trying to build up a herd of heifers, 'cause I thought I wanted to be a rancher. A friend says, "Why don't you send in an application?" So the next thing I knew, they didn't even grant me an interview, they sent me a job offer, for more money than a country boy had ever seen by the way. I'll never forget what it was, it was 67 70. 6770 dollars a year.
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Followed by Beyond the Moon: Failure Is Not an Option 2 (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent.. but for one critical mistake.
6 November 2012 | by LydiaOLydiaSee all my reviews

This is an excellent movie insofar as telling the history of Mission Control goes. I have no issue with this.

However, by giving this movie a 1 star (awful) rating, I hope that the producers will take notice of what can only be called a gross oversight - an error that they made over and over and over and over and over (30+ times in 15 minutes, until I stopped counting).

The country that launched Sputnik was not "Russia." It was THE SOVIET UNION (CCCP).

While Russia was the largest constituent state of the Soviet Union, it is no more correct to say that the two are the same than it would be to say that Texas is the USA or England is the United Kingdom. They're simply not. While casually people may make the error, for a history documentary to make it is just shockingly bad.

Many of the key people involved in the Soviet space program were non-Russian and/or came from places not in Russia. This includes tens of thousands of Ukrainians, Balts, and Central Asians. Koryolov, the Soviet chief designer and pretty much the man responsible for the whole program was half Ukrainian. NONE of the rockets, patches, etc had "Russia" written on them. It was all CCCP.

By perpetuating the myth that "the soviet union=Russia", this documentary gives undue support to dictators like Putin while keeping deserved praise from non-Russians who earned it. Let's be clear--the Soviet Union was a place of many great evils. But, "credit where credit was due"--there were also some great successes.

I can't for the life of me imagine how this script passed through even the most basic fact checking. Shockingly ignorant on this point.

Though, as others have pointed out, the rest of the movie is excellent. 8.8 excellent? Probably not, but still worth a view.

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