After facing down a zipper "malfunction" in the Apple TV+ alternate history space show "For All Mankind," astronaut Gordo Stevens is getting used to a spacesuit again.
As we saw last week, Stevens is trying to get his space groove back for a new mission, his first in years. He's put on a bit of weight and it's been a while since he last wore on a spacesuit, but Stevens is hoping the old routine will come back to him after his moon flights of the 1960s. Since Season 2 of "For All Mankind" is in the 1980s, Stevens is gearing up to fly on a new vehicle — NASA's space shuttle.
"Fly, or nothing gets done," Stevens says in this exclusive sneak peek clip from this week's episode, entitled "Pathfinder," which airs Friday (March 12). The name "Pathfinder" refers to a fictional version of a next-generation shuttle that also features in the series this season. (Apple offered a glimpse of the shuttle on Twitter last week.)
"With a little help from Molly, Ed plans a career change—as his old Jamestown crewmates Gordo and Danielle struggle," reads an episode description.
Meet the future of space exploration. NASA's new pathfinder shuttle is changing space travel one nuclear engine at a time.Watch #ForAllMankind on the @AppleTV app with an Apple TV+ subscription. pic.twitter.com/8a9YaMWrIDMarch 3, 2021
"For All Mankind" is a close approximation of real-life space technology, but it follows an alternate history to what really happened in space. A key moment of Season 1 was the Soviet Union beating the Americans to the moon. During that season, Stevens flew on the Apollo 10 dress rehearsal for the U.S. moon landing and later served on Jamestown, an American moon base, but hit a wall on that mission and ended up coming home early with the help of his crewmate Danielle Poole (Krys Marshall).
Despite this history and the long gap between missions, Stevens at first appears comfortable with the new spacesuit. As he gets bolted in and is fitted with the classic "Snoopy cap" astronauts wear under their helmets, one of the personnel helping Stevens jokes that she misses the "hard chargers" and "test pilots" of the older astronaut's generation.
We like to push everything to the firewall, all right," Stevens jokes, a test pilot joke referring to cranking the throttle towards the part of an airplane that separates the pilot from the engine.
The spacesuit that Stevens is trying out is a little stiffer than what he is used to; one of the technicians jokes about swapping it out for one of the old "Apollo A7LBs", referring to the generation of spacesuits used in real life on NASA's Apollo, Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz missions, before the space shuttle.
Showing the old culture Stevens grew up in, in the 1960s, Stevens makes an inappropriate joke to the female technician that wouldn't have been remarked upon much before the era of "Me Too." "I'm loving every minute," he says, "thinking of you."
"You never give up, do you?" she smiles, before focusing again on the work at hand.
"Charm looms large in my legend," Stevens continues, but quickly turns serious when the male technician approaches with the helmet. He gets bolted in, then begins breathing heavily. Both technicians, standing nearby, ask if he's okay. Then the clip cuts to black, making it unclear how long Stevens' claustrophobic reaction will persist.
"For All Mankind" Season 1 and the first three episodes of Season 2 are available on the streaming platform Apple TV+, which requires a subscription of $4.99/month. We also have a spoiler-free discussion of what to expect in Season 2, with a look at how it compares to real-life space shuttle history of the 1980s, courtesy of Space.com partner collectSPACE.
To catch up to today's episode, check out "For All Mankind: The Official Podcast", available now on Apple Podcasts. A new augmented reality experience called "For All Mankind: Time Capsule" is also available in the App Store.
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.