Zero Gravity

A 6-part series based on the true story of German-German space travel

We live in times in which we are more than ever in need of hope for the good. Positive visions, the belief in an idea that unites us as people rather than divides us. “Zero Gravity” is driven by two main characters who lived out precisely these needs at a time when no one believed in them. At the center of the story are the first two German space travelers of the GDR and Federal Democratic Republic, who are connected by an unbelievable story, although these men could not have been more different.

Sigmund Jähn was born in 1937 in the GDR in Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz in Saxony, came from a poor family background, joined the party at the age of 18 and eventually became a soldier in the National People's Army. There he made his way as an inconspicuous man loyal to the party line, learned to fly, and as a fighter pilot was eventually selected to participate in the Russian cosmonaut program. He was trained in Star City near Moscow and eventually became a shortlisted cosmonaut. On Aug. 26, 1978, he became the first German to fly into space with the Russians. After one week he landed in the Kazakh desert and became a national hero of the GDR. Every child knew Sigmund Jähn. Thousands lined the streets of Berlin when he was welcomed by Honecker. Ulf Merbold was also born in the GDR.

Like Sigmund Jähn, he came from the Vogtland region of Thuringia. But his fate was completely different. He lost his father in World War II, when he never returned from Russian captivity. Young Ulf and his mother rejected the political system of the GDR from the very beginning. They wanted to live freely and self-determined. Merbold did not join the FDJ as a student, and as a consequence he was denied a university education. He decided to move to the West with his mother. But when he wanted to prepare for it from West Berlin, the Berlin Wall was built overnight, completely unexpectedly. Merbold studied physics in Stuttgart, did his doctorate and finally spontaneously applied to the ESA for DLR's space programme with NASA along with 4000 other applicants. He was accepted and went to the USA with his family. He finally flew into space in 1983, being the first European.

Two men, two completely different biographies, and yet there was a close connection of which they were initially unaware: the same home, the Vogtland region, and an unforeseen shared vision. The view from space of an earth without borders. A formative experience for both of them. Their view of the world was to change forever. They saw the Earth from above at a time when harshness and mistrust dominated politics. In the midst of the Cold War, they experienced how vulnerable and yet worth protecting the planet is. Two systems and, in the end, one experience that united them: seeing the Earth from a different perspective fundamentally changes one's view and shows how pointless borders and power struggles are.This special, complex and emotional story, based on a documentary by Nicola Graef and Florian Huber, became the basis for a series.

Henning Kamm, Realfilm Berlin

Buch / Regie

Christine Hartmann


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