Deadline Hollywood is reporting that the National Geographic Channel has concluded a development deal with Appian Way Productions and Warner Horizons Scripted Series to produce “The Right Stuff” as an episodic television series. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davidson will be the executive producers. It is unknown at this time whether DiCaprio will act in the series. “The Right Stuff,” based on a book by Tom Wolf, was made into a feature motion picture in 1983 starring Scott Glenn and Ed Harris.

What is ‘The Right Stuff?’

The Right Stuff” is a phrase that was invented by Tom Wolf to mean those qualities that make for a good test pilot and astronaut.

It is the ability to perform under pressure, to take informed risks, and to not show fear. The book and the movie started with the first breaking of the sound barrier by Chuck Yeager in an X-1 rocket plane, told the story of the early test pilots who risked their lives in high-performance aircraft in the skies over the Mojave Desert, and ended with the beginning of the space race with the Mercury program.

The movie contrasted the individual achievements of test pilots like Yeager who turned down the opportunity to be an astronaut to the more collaborative efforts of the early space program.

The series will take the book as a starting point

The Right Stuff" series will take a different approach to the source material than the movie.

The series will start in 1958 with the beginning of the space race and the selection of the Mercury 7 astronauts from the pool of test pilots to start pushing back the high frontier of space. The series is envisioned as going beyond the book to at least the Apollo moon landings.

Space exploration seems to be cool again

The Right Stuff” will be the second scripted space related series to air on the National Geographic Channel.

The first series was “Mars” which depicted the first few years of the human exploration of the Red Planet a couple of decades in the future. Movies like “The Martian” and “Gravity” as well as TV series like “The Right Stuff” suggest that space exploration has become cool enough again to be part of popular culture.

The events of “The Right Stuff” took place during a time when Soviet space accomplishments caused many Americans to wonder if they were living in a country in decline.

The Apollo race to the moon and the mission of Apollo 11 was a spectacular answer to that anxiety. Now, feelings that the United States is in decline have resurfaced. Could a renewed push to explore space help put aside those fears?