These astronauts read Tom Wolfe’s ‘The Right Stuff’ and flew in space. Here what it meant to them.

Four-time space shuttle astronaut Steve Smith loved professional adventurers when he was a child. In the 1960s, Jacques Cousteau explored the ocean while astronauts were making their first journeys into space during NASA’s Mercury program, which paved the way for the first astronauts to land on the moon in 1969.

It is this early world of spaceflight — and the test pilots who made up the first astronauts — that came to the fore in “The Right Stuff” — the 1979 book by Tom Wolfe, the 1983 Hollywood movie and the new National Geographic TV series that launches on Disney Plus today (Oct. 9) to cap World Space Week 2020.

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