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'For All Mankind' season 3 trailer sets up three-way space race to Mars

A three-way race to Mars is set to lift off next month with the return of the critically-acclaimed "For All Mankind" and Apple TV Plus (opens in new tab) has your first extended look.

The alternate space history series, which last season topped multiple lists as the best show of the year, is set to launch with the first of 10 new episodes on June 10. On Monday (May 16), Apple TV Plus released the trailer for the third season (opens in new tab), which again sees the series jump ahead nearly 10 years, this time picking up in the early 1990s with all eyes set on reaching the Red Planet first.

"We're not going to come in second place again to anyone," says Margo Madison (Wrenn Schmidt), who when last seen in season two had risen from being the first woman engineer in Mission Control to director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Underscoring her words and playing throughout the trailer is the 1994 song "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden.

The third season of "For All Mankind," the alternate space history series on Apple TV Plus, expands the space race to Mars with a new, unexpected entrant.  (Image credit: Apple TV+)

As established in the series' first episode, "For All Mankind" explores how the world might have been different (opens in new tab) if the Soviet Union had been the first country to land a human on the moon in 1969. The first and second seasons focused on NASA's attempts to catch up to and surpass the Russians on the lunar surface (opens in new tab) as the Cold War space race turned increasingly hot.

In this new season, Mars becomes the new frontier in the ongoing competition, but not only for the opposing nations.

"Some say private citizens have no business in space exploration. I emphatically disagree," says Dev Ayesa (Edi Gathegi), an Elon Musk-like visionary who heads up the fictional Helios Aerospace in "For All Mankind."

In reality, the first successful commercial space launch was in 1982, but it was not until 38 years later that a company, Musk's SpaceX, flew the first astronauts on a privately-operated orbital spaceflight (opens in new tab). SpaceX is now pursuing its own plans to launch humans to Mars using its still-in-development Starship spacecraft, but it is years from sending crews into orbit or the moon, let alone Mars.

"Being first is what it is all about," Ayesa says.

A lander approaches the surface of Mars in the trailer for season 3 of "For All Mankind," premiering on June 10, 2022.  (Image credit: Apple TV+)

As the "For All Mankind" trailer teases (opens in new tab), the question of who will be first is only one of the challenges facing the Mars-bound crews, as a massive dust storm blankets the planet and the search for water may be key to the one or more of the missions' success.

"The survival of my crew depends on it," says Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman), commander of Apollo 10, Apollo 15 and the first launch of NASA's next generation space shuttle Pathfinder (opens in new tab).

Other scenes in the two-minute trailer show two spacewalkers seemingly in trouble outside a large rotating section of a spacecraft; a lander approaching the Martian surface; astronauts walking and driving a rover on Mars; and, back on Earth, NASA Administrator Ellen Wilson (Jodi Balfour) winning a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1986.

"It is only the beginning," says astronaut Danielle Poole (Krys Marshall), NASA's first Black astronaut and U.S. commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, as the trailer comes to its end.

One of three Mars-bound ships in the third season of the alternate space history series "For All Mankind." (Image credit: Apple TV+)

Created by Emmy Award-winner Ronald D. Moore with Ben Nedivi and Matt Wolpert, "For All Mankind" is produced by Sony Pictures Television. For season 3, Nedivi and Wolpert serve as showrunners and executive produce alongside Moore and Maril Davis of Tall Ship Productions, as well as David Weddle, Bradley Thompson and Nichole Beattie.

In addition to those already named, "For All Mankind" cast members returning this season include Shantel VanSanten ("Karen Baldwin"), Sonya Walger ("Molly Cobb"), Cynthy Wu ("Kelly Baldwin"), Casey Johnson ("Danny Stevens") and Coral Peña ("Aleida Rosales").

Catch up on seasons one and two of "For All Mankind" now on Apple TV Plus (opens in new tab). Season 3 debuts with the first episode on June 10, followed by one new episode weekly every Friday through Aug. 12.

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Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.