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An Iconic Space Story That Never Takes Flight

In 1972, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner sent New Journalism titan Tom Wolfe to cover Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the moon. While researching the piece, Wolfe fell in love with the stories of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, and instead churned out a four-part series of articles titled “Post-Orbital Remorse,” which he then adapted into the 1979 book The Right Stuff, which in turn was adapted by Philip Kaufman into a 1983 movie, and this weekend becomes — kind of, sort of — a new streaming series for the National Geographic hub of Disney+.

In the original article, written in the voice of a Mercury astronaut lecturing Wolfe on the mysteries of their profession, “the right stuff” is an unspoken competition among test pilots: “It’s like a huge and very complex pyramid, miles high, and the idea is to prove at every foot of the way

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