NatGeo sets October launch date for 'The Right Stuff' on Disney Plus

"The Right Stuff" now has a launch date.

National Geographic's new scripted series about America's first astronauts is set to blast off on Oct. 9 on the Disney Plus streaming service. Based on journalist Tom Wolfe's 1979 bestselling book by the same title, "The Right Stuff" dramatizes the history behind NASA's original Mercury 7 astronauts as the United States raced the Soviet Union to put the first human into space.

"The incredible story of America's first astronauts begins right here on Earth in the Disney Plus original series 'The Right Stuff,' with a two-episode premiere on Friday, October 9," Disney and National Geographic announced on Thursday (Aug. 20).

Related: Project Mercury: America's 1st crewed space program

National Geographic's "The Right Stuff" will debut on Oct. 9, 2020 on the Disney+ streaming service.  (Image credit: Disney+)

Produced by Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way and Warner Bros. Television, "The Right Stuff" takes "a clear-eyed look at America's first 'reality show,' when ambitious astronauts and their families became instant celebrities in a competition of money, fame and immortality."

Disney kicked off the countdown to the series' premiere on Thursday with a new two-minute trailer providing an extended look at some of the drama and action that will comprise the eight-episode first season of "The Right Stuff."

"Americans love stories," reporter Loudon Wainwright Jr. (Josh Cooke) says as the trailer begins and he flips over cover sheets to reveal enlarged LIFE magazine covers featuring the individual astronauts' portraits. "This story ends with a climax in space, and starts right here on Earth."

Promotional poster for National Geographic's “The Right Stuff,” premiering Oct. 9, 2020 on the Disney+ streaming service. (Image credit: Disney+)
"The Right Stuff" by Tom Wolfe | $12 on Amazon

"The Right Stuff" by Tom Wolfe | $12 on Amazon
Read the book that inspired the National Geographic/Disney Plus series about NASA's original Mercury Seven astronauts.

Wainwright explains to the seven chosen test pilots how their new celebrity status will change how they are viewed by the public.

"People will feel like they know you. They'll want to be you," he says. "Astronauts — 'astro' meaning star, 'naut' — voyager.' Nobody has ever seen anything like you men until now."

As the trailer continues, quick scenes show the astronauts examining a Mercury spacecraft, spinning on board the multi-axis trainer that was used to prepare them for spaceflight and what appears to be the ill-fated launch of the first Mercury-Atlas rocket in July 1960.

Also teased is a developing rivalry between Alan Shepard (Jake McDorman) and John Glenn (Patrick J. Adams), who are central to the story and, as history records, went on to become the first Americans to enter space and orbit Earth, respectively.

"I don't know what you want, John," said Shepard (McDorman), "but it is almost like you are afraid of the competition."

"The Right Stuff" also features Colin O'Donoghue as Gordon Cooper, Aaron Staton as Wally Schirra, James Lafferty as Scott Carpenter, Micah Stock as Deke Slayton and Michael Trotter as Gus Grissom. John Glenn's wife, Annie, is portrayed by Nora Zehetner, Louise Shepard by Shannon Lucio and Trudy Cooper by Eloise Mumford.

Bob Gilruth (Patrick Fischler), who headed NASA's Space Task Group, and Chris Kraft (Eric Ladin), who oversaw the creation of Mission Control, are also portrayed in the series, as are other members of the engineering and ground control teams who made the astronauts' flights the success that they were.

"Set during a time when many wondered whether America's glory days were behind it, 'The Right Stuff' is an aspirational story about ambition and exploration and how ordinary human beings can achieve the extraordinary," said Disney.

Follow on Facebook and on Twitter at @collectSPACE. Copyright 2020 All rights reserved.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Robert Z. Pearlman Editor, Contributor

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of, 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 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.