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NOVA; AstroSpies


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Series Description

Premiered March 1974 NOVA is a general-interest documentary series that addresses a single science issue each week. Billed as "science adventures for curious grown-ups" when it first aired in March, 1974, NOVA continues to offer an informative and entertaining approach to a challenging subject. 1996 marked NOVA's 23rd season, which makes it the longest-running science program on national television. It is also one of television's most acclaimed series, having won every major television award, most of them many times over. Series release date: 3/3/1974

Program Description

Millions remember the countdowns, launchings, splashdowns, and parades as the U.S. raced the USSR to the moon in the 1960s. But few know that both countries also ran parallel space programs, whose covert goal was to launch military astronauts on spying missions. In this program, NOVA delves into the untold story of this top-secret space race.

Coproduced by investigative journalist James Bamford, acclaimed best-selling author of The Puzzle Palace and Emmy Award-winning producer Scott Willis, "Astrospies" uncovers new clues about the tensest period of the Cold War, when the U.S. and USSR were on the verge of war and desperate for intelligence on each other's nuclear capabilities.

In the U.S., the Air Force-run program was given the cover name Manned Orbiting Laboratory. MOL was designed to be an orbiting spy station, with two astronauts operating an array of intelligence-gathering instruments. Not to be outwitted, the Soviets guessed the clandestine purpose of MOL and designed a similar manned spy station called Almaz.

So secret was MOL that astronauts are even reluctant to talk about it today, although several discuss aspects of it for the first time on NOVA.



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Broadcast program

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Chicago: “NOVA; AstroSpies,” 12/20/2007, GBH Archives, accessed May 28, 2024,
MLA: “NOVA; AstroSpies.” 12/20/2007. GBH Archives. Web. May 28, 2024. <>.
APA: NOVA; AstroSpies. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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