Discovery Channel and Image Entertainment have released the six-part mini-series ‘When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions’ on Blu-ray and DVD which premiered back this past June 2008. This is one very educational and entertaining documentary if you love NASA, astronauts, and space travel. This review covers both the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the film. The DVD comes in a beautiful steelbook case and the Blu-ray comes in the standard Blu-ray case, except it has a very nice slipcover over it. The packaging and cover art for both is quite excellent.

There are 6 episodes spanned across the set and each episode gets more intriguing than the previous one before that. We are looking at approximately 258 minutes worth of episode footage and any extras. Both the DVD and Blu-ray are 4 discs. Gary Sinese is our narrator for the 6 episodes in the mini-series.

Episode 1: Ordinary Superman – this episode was one of the most interesting episodes and covers the original Mercury Seven astronauts. This is a test and trying to figure out how the seven astronauts are going to be launched into space is the goal without them losing their lives.

Episode 2: Friends and Rivals – this episode is centered on the Project Gemini program and NASA has a new set of recruits with the mission to land on the moon. Then once they were on the moon, how do we get the astronauts back to Earth. There is also footage of Ed White’s first walk on the moon and it was very interesting to watch in high definition.

Episode 3: Landing the Eagle –
this is the beginning of the famous Apollo program and the Apollo 1. In this episode, they cover on how NASA was out to send multiple men to the moon in one shuttle. This was the first time that three men, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee would make it into space. They would attain their goal of being the first manned group in space, but a fire would kill them in space. NASA would find ways to improve the mission with a few flights later and a team was able to successfully land on the moon.

Episode 4: The Explorers – NASA did the unthinkable in episode 3 with finally getting a team to the moon and back. Once NASA conquered the unthinkable, they became more intrigued with what lies on the moon. This is the famous Apollo 13 mission, where the spacecraft is damaged up in space and trying to get it and the astronauts back to Earth is the primary key. We even get insights into the first space station ever created.

Episode 5: The Shuttle – NASA has been sending three astronauts out in space at a time, but a new change is going to be made to the space shuttle to send even more astronauts up in space. The tragedy of the Challenger and Columbia are also covered in this episode, very sad.

Episode 6: A Home in Space – in the final episode the Hubble Space Telescope is the main focus and this was to give NASA a huge insight on a lot more in space. There is a problem with the telescope which ends up having NASA send up yet another team of astronauts to repair the telescope.

I really enjoyed this mini-series now that I was able to view it in its entirety. I saw a few of the episodes during its run on the Discovery Channel and was amazed then.

With the Blu-ray version the picture quality is presented in 1080p. The print itself is very good considering that a lot of this footage dates back 40 some years. Discovery Channel and Image Entertainment worked very hard trying to remaster each frame of the footage to 1080p. There is grain throughout the print as expected due to the age of the footage. With the HD shots of the film, the picture does look very detailed in a lot of the scenes and gets much better as we progress with each episode. On DVD the picture quality is not bad, but there is more grain than the Blu-ray version and there were noticeable specs throughout. By no means would I pass this up even if I only owned a DVD player, this mini-series is very educational. Audio quality is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and does a very good job since this is more dialogue driven with everything coming through the center channel. Very rarely does the surrounds get heavy usage.

Special Features:
•Digitally Restored NASA film highlights
•Mission Clips
•Astronaut interviews
•Bonus: 14-page collectible booklet featuring a timeline of major landmark NASA events, trivia and archival photos

I highly recommend this mini-series on both Blu-ray and DVD as there quite a bit of history that I didn’t know about some of the NASA missions that I was educated on through watching this documentary. This is a documentary that I hope makes it to middle school classes as something the teachers show the students in science classes, Discovery Channel did an excellent job piecing together all the footage as they always do with their productions. If you can, go with the Blu-ray version as the footage that is in HD looks amazing and will knock your socks off.

Blu-ray List Price: $69.99, Sale Price: $39.99 Order today from (Amazon and Save)

DVD List Price: $49.99, Sale Price: $36.99 Order today from (Amazon and Save)