Disney Junior made history in April by premiering a new episode of Mission Force One aboard the International Space Station! (Mission Force One is a re-branding of the third season of the hit show Miles From Tomorrowland.)
The debut was the first time a children’s television show has premiered onboard the multi-national space laboratory. Now, terrestrial audiences will be able to view the appropriately-titled episode “The Space Station Situation” on Monday, May 7 (5:30 – 6:00 P.M. EDT) on the Disney Junior tv channel and in the DisneyNOW app.
In this episode, title character Miles Callisto and his team travel back in time to meet present-day astronauts aboard the ISS. The episode features a star-studded cast voicing themselves, including NASA astronauts Scott Kelly, Jeanette Epps and Yvonne Cagle; the European Space Agency’s astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti from Italy; and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko.
In addition to astronauts, the show also features the voices of NASA space station flight director Holly Ridings; and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Randii Wessen, Diana Trujillo, Bobak “Mohawk Guy” Ferdowsi and Kevin Hand. Bill Nye (The Science Guy!) also shows up in his recurring role as Professor Rubicon.
If it seems like there are a lot of diverse voices in this episode, that is by design.
Executive Producer Sascha Paladino explained to me: “We worked really hard to get astronauts from all over the world to do voices in this episode. My favorite thing about the ISS is that it is a shining example of the heights that people from different backgrounds can achieve if they work together. My main goal with this episode is to shine a light on the idea that when people collaborate, truly collaborate, great things can happen.”
Mission Force One already has experts from NASA, NASA’s JPL, the Space Tourism Society and Google collaborating on the series to provide unique space and science facts into each storyline.
With so many experts available, it was important to get all of the details correct! In addition to accurate renderings based on the ISS’s original designs, some of the guest stars added crucial real-world details to the script. According to Paladino: “When we were working on the episode, Scott Kelly stopped by our animation studio. He pointed out that he always wears his glasses pushed up to his forehead, so we made sure the animated version of him did, too. Even when he’s wearing his spacesuit!”
How did it all turn out? According to Paladino, the astronauts and other NASA employees loved it!
“At JSC we got to show the completed episode to some real astronauts, and they told us that our depiction of the ISS was very accurate. I felt two things: ‘Phew!’ and ‘Mission accomplished!'”
The astronauts and NASA employees weren’t the only ones to get screen time. Paladino added: “At the screening, the scene with [NASA’s robot assistant] Robonaut got a big cheer from the NASA employees in attendance. Robonaut is such a cool-looking robot, we felt that we had to include it in one way or another – even if it’s main function in the episode is to give Merc a hug.”
The Mission Force One extra-long 22-minute episode “The Space Station Situation” airs Monday, May 7 (5:30 – 6:00 P.M. EDT) on the Disney Junior tv channel and in the DisneyNOW app.
For more on Mission Force One, including games, crafts, and clips, check out their site on Disney Junior