Evidently renowned actor and former Nerdist Podcast guest Morgan Freeman isn’t content with just taking you through the wormhole, he wants to bring you into the biggest rush to the Moon since the 1960s.
Freeman is now the executive producer of a new three-part series airing tomorrow night on The Science Channel called Man vs. The Universe — an inside look on the teams that are vying to become the next “cosmic oil barons”, the scientists trying to deflect asteroids, and the companies trying to get humans to Mars. You can watch a clip from the first episode, “Mining The Moon”, below:
Look up at the Moon and it’s hard to see anything other than an airless rock. But look at bit closer and you might realize that the Moon could be humanity’s first stepping stone to extraterrestrial habitation. Hidden in the dusty regolith of our shining satellite are thousands and thousands of tons of precious materials like water, oxygen, and rare-earth metals. Any private company that could figure out how to mine the Moon’s vast resources would be the next monolithic energy company. But more importantly those pioneers could establish the first off-world human colonies, provide resources to missions that seek to go beyond low-Earth orbit, and be the proof of concept we need to make sustained life in space a reality.
To spur on these innovations, Google has established the Lunar XPRIZE — 30 million dollars in awards that goes to the first team to land a robot on the Moon, successfully travel more than 500 meters (1,640 ft), and finally transmit back high-definition images and video. Man vs. The Universe‘s first episode tracks these teams, their progress, and their hardships as they jockey for position against superpowers like China.
“Mining the Moon” is genuinely interesting. Even trying to keep up with all the big science news, I had no idea there was such a push towards turning the Moon into the next great untapped resource humans have access to. The competing teams, though privately funded, have made impressive progress. The first episode shows robotics experts that have taught a rocket how to land on flat terrain (and to steer itself away from rocky dangers) and even a preliminary digger to chew through the mineral-rich regolith.
The other two episodes in the series, “How to Kill an Asteroid” and “Mars is Ours”, are just as informative, carving out space for science-based programming amid a line-up of decidedly fear-based history and nature programs. “Mars is Ours” in particular features unprecedented access into Elon Musk’s company SpaceX, an enterprise poised to revolutionize how humans get into space.
If you’ve followed Science Channel and Morgan Freeman into the wormhole this far, it’s worth it to go a bit further.
Man vs. The Universe premieres Wednesday, August 13th at 10 PM ET/PT.