JPL & the Space Age: The Pathfinders



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It started with JPL agreeing to land something on Mars – cheaply – and do it in a radically different way. This is how the era NASA called “Faster, Better, Cheaper” began. The documentary film “The Pathfinders” tells the story of a small group of engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who did not heed warnings that the audacious challenge of landing on Mars with airbags would likely not be a career-enhancing move.

From relying on a parachute that could not be tested in a way to match the Martian atmosphere to receiving the late addition of an unwanted rover that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a toy store, the Mars Pathfinder mission was a doubter’s dream, taken on by a mostly young group of engineers and scientists guided by a grizzled manager known for his maverick ways.

“The Pathfinders” retraces the journey of this daring mission to Mars that captured the imagination of people around the world with its dramatic landing and its tiny rover – the first wheels ever to roll on Mars.

Documentary length: 60 minutes
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