"Mission Control, We Have Lift Off" - Discovery Channel Presents the World Premieres of "Race to Mars" and "Mars Rising," Starting Sept. 23

        - 4-hour miniseries "Race to Mars" imagines the first human mission
                                      in 2030 -

     - 6-part doc series "Mars Rising" explores how we could get there -

        - Both projects to be screened internationally across Discovery
        Networks International, and on The Science Channel (USA), ARTE in
                           France and Japan's NHK -

     - Today's foremost space experts weigh in during a public event and
         broadcast special: "Earth to Mars: The Great Space Debate" -

      - Mars comes to life online at RaceToMars.ca, in a companion book
                                and exhibit -

    TORONTO, Aug. 1 /CNW/ - Discovery Channel's most ambitious project ever
is ready for lift off. As the scientific and space communities mark the 50th
anniversary of the Space Age initiated by Sputnik, Discovery Channel blasts
into Fall with an unprecedented and daring multi-platform exploration of the
Red Planet: Mars. Experts suggest we could see a successful human voyage to
Mars in our lifetime, and when it happens, it will be the most ambitious,
complex and dangerous expedition ever undertaken. The cornerstone of Discovery
Channel's 2007-2008 Season, this landmark television event - featuring the
World Premieres of "Race to Mars" (Sept. 23 premiere) and "Mars Rising"(Oct. 7
premiere) - celebrates the innovation, technology and passion that will bring
the voyage to fruition. This 10-hour television event will be complemented by
a fully immersive online experience at RaceToMars.ca, a companion book also
titled Race to Mars; a touring exhibition with the Ontario Science Centre and
a full slate of complementary programming to be unveiled soon. Discovery
Channel has also tapped key experts from the documentary series as panellists
for a complementary special, "Earth to Mars: The Great Space Debate," a live
public event to be held in Toronto where the audience can ask the experts
about future missions to Mars. The debate will stream live at
DiscoveryChannel.ca and be broadcast as a one-hour special wrapping up the
Channel's additional Mars-themed programming later this fall. All told, this
is the boldest and biggest undertaking devoted to a single subject in
Discovery Channel Canada's history.

    Complete descriptions and broadcast schedules for "Race to Mars"; "Mars
    Rising"; and "Earth to Mars: The Great Space Debate" are below as well as
    complete information about the Public Debate; the RaceToMars.ca
    Interactive and Educational Elements; About the Book Race to Mars; and
    About the Exhibit The Challenge of Mars for full details.

    (xx)Media Note(xx) - Download photography from "Race to Mars" and "Mars
    Rising" on-line at www.ctvmedia.ca/discovery.

    Premiering with back-to-back episodes on Sun., Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. ET/9
p.m. PT on Discovery Channel and Discovery HD, "Race to Mars" is a stunning
4x1hour expedition series that imagines and simulates the first manned mission
to the Red Planet. Shot in High Definition and born out of the exhaustive
scientific research being done today at international space agencies and
laboratories, this gripping miniseries captures every exhilarating moment and
draws viewers into the heart of the mission - from leaving Earth's orbit to
the return voyage home. Award-winning actor Michael Riley leads the "Race to
Mars" mission as Commander Rick Erwin.
    Following the conclusion of the expedition series, Discovery will
premiere "Mars Rising", a six-hour companion documentary series that explores
the science and technology being developed and tested today that will make a
future mission to Mars a reality. "Mars Rising," narrated by space icon and
actor William Shatner ('How William Shatner Changed the World') and premiering
with back-to-back episodes on Sun., Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT on Discovery
Channel and Discovery HD details the significant challenges facing a mission
to Mars. This future mission will require multiple spacecraft, unparalleled
ingenuity and a completely new breed of astronaut. Drawing upon thousands of
hours of research, interviews with top scientists and experts around the
world, and employing cutting edge CGI, "Mars Rising" will explain the science
behind this complex and perilous undertaking, the reasons why we will go and
the physical and psychological challenges of the mission.
    "This will be the definitive story of the human mission to Mars," said
Paul Lewis, President and General Manager of Discovery Channel. "With this
unprecedented multi-platform event, our mission is to reignite excitement in
the Space Age and inspire a whole new generation to look outward towards the
    "We went to the four corners of our own planet to present the most
exhaustive examination of the Red Planet," said Executive Producer and
Galafilm CEO Arnie Gelbart. "With exclusive access to all 'the right stuff,'
we consulted with over 300 experts in every space-related field and shot in
excess of 90 locations around the world. These 10 hours will take viewers on
an unforgettable ride more thrilling than any Hollywood blockbuster because
it's firmly based on real science and represents a glimpse of our own future."
    Developed and commissioned by Discovery Channel Canada and produced by
Montreal's award-winning Galafilm Inc., this combined, original 10-hour
Canadian endeavour is the most expensive science television project in
production this year worldwide (with a combined budget of approximately CDN
$20-million). "Race to Mars" and "Mars Rising" will bring this monumental
journey to worldwide audiences when international broadcast partners Discovery
Networks International, The Science Channel (U.S.), ARTE (France) and NHK
(Japan's public broadcaster) debut the series in the coming months.

    About "Race to Mars"

    In the year 2030, the race to be the first to reach the Red Planet is on
- and China is leading the way. China has stunned the world by leapfrogging
over America's long-term plans and has landed a series of advanced rovers and
robotic landers in their quest to make the most important discovery in history
- extraterrestrial life. Once again, America and its partners, including
Canada, are thrust into a winner-take-all space race - but this time the
stakes are even higher than the race to the Moon nearly seven decades earlier.
    The international team accelerates its plans to launch a human mission,
drawing together astronauts from Canada, the United States, Russia, France and
Japan for a gruelling assignment. In a capsule the size of just two school
buses, these four men and two women must work together as a team and struggle
with the sacrifice of leaving friends and family behind. This elite crew -
after years of training and psychological evaluations - band together for the
ultimate career-making mission. This journey will last for nearly 600 days and
will take them 56-million kilometres away from their lives on Earth - and the
physical and psychological isolation they experience will be unlike anything
these astronauts have ever known. This mission asks for extraordinary human
sacrifice, but the payoff - being the first to discover potential life on
another planet - is irresistible to an astronaut with just "the right stuff."
Among them, the driven mission commander who's never known failure - until he
loses one of his own to the unforgiving environment on Mars; the rational
flight surgeon who discovers a new spirituality as she grapples with the
magnitude of her journey; the veteran cosmonaut who knows just how many rules
can be broken; the brilliant French nuclear physicist; and the Canadian
astronaut who will play a key role before the end of the journey. Training and
determination will get them only so far, and when this crew sets out on
humanity's first expedition to another world, nothing can prepare them for the
unexpected danger and staggering wonder of what they will experience.
    Bringing this landmark television event to life, Michael Riley
('Supervolcano,' 'This is Wonderland') stars as astronaut Captain Rick Erwin.
He is joined by joined by Pascale Bussières ('When Night is Falling') as
Jackie Decelles; Lothaire Bluteau ('Jèsus de Montrèal,' 'Black Robe') as
Antoine Hebert; Claudia Ferri ('Mambo Italiano,' 'Hunt for Justice') as Lucia
Alarcon; Frank Schorpion ('One Dead Indian,' 'Human Trafficking') as Mikhail
Cerenkov and Kevan Ohtsji ('Stargate SG-1') as Hiromi Okuda.

    -   "Race to Mars" (Part 1)
        Sun., Sept 23 at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT on Discovery Channel and
        Discovery HD

        As the Terra Nova begins its 583-day trip to Mars, the mission led by
        American Commander Rick Erwin (Michael Riley) is plagued by
        electrical power system malfunctions. Canadian flight engineer
        (Pascale Bussières) is forced to jettison one of the Canadarms.
        Tension mounts between the Russian co-pilot (Frank Schorpion) and the
        French flight engineer (Lothaire Bluteau). A Chinese craft with a
        robotics crew lands on Mars. Mission Control advises that Terra
        Nova's electrical system is compromised and suggests aborting the

    -   "Race to Mars" (Part 2)
        Sun., Sept 23 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT on Discovery Channel and
        Discovery HD

        The crew ignores Mission Control's advice and lands safely on Mars
        but Japanese astronaut Hiromi (Kevan Ohtsji) is injured. The Chinese
        mission finds water but it is too salty to support life. The Terra
        Nova's equipment is wearing out faster than anticipated. The crew
        seeks international permission to use the abandoned Chinese drill to
        complete their work.

    -   "Race to Mars" (Part 3)
        Sun., Sept 30 at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT on Discovery Channel and
        Discovery HD

        The crew hits water but the drill explodes killing Hiromi. The entire
        crew is ill. The flight surgeon (Claudia Ferri) suggests they break
        the seal on one of the Mars samples and test for alien contamination.
        It's a moral quandary: do they accept possible death from this
        undiagnosed disease or face a possible lifetime of quarantine on
        Earth if they are contagious?

    -   "Race to Mars" (Part 4)
        Sun., Sept 30 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT on Discovery Channel and
        Discovery HD

        Mission Control has detected the system flaw: the master clock has
        been resetting to its default pre-launch position - giving no
        indication of any malfunctions. The crew is suffering from carbon
        monoxide poisoning. It is not Mars but faulty technology which is
        killing the astronauts. Rick and Antoine exit the craft to repair and
        replace the faulty electrical boards. After 583 days, the mission is

    About "Mars Rising"

    Shot in HD in over 90 locations, the companion documentary series "Mars
Rising" explores how the challenges being grappled with today will lead to a
manned mission to Mars in the next 20 years. Film crews captured interviews,
training sessions and experiments in the United States, Russia, Chile, China,
Europe and across Canada, including the Canadian Arctic. Over 300 scientists
from diverse backgrounds and nationalities were consulted for the series and
more than 60 space experts, including former and current astronauts, appear on
camera. Among the critical subjects explored through the series include
spaceship design, possible trajectories, rocket fuel, finding new life forms,
new thoughts on astronaut selection and training, space suit engineering,
medical training for deep space, blasting through the Mars atmosphere, life
support systems and robotics.
    Among the distinguished experts appearing in the series, three experts
with very different backgrounds stand out: James Garvin, lead scientist for
Mars and Lunar Exploration at NASA; Paul Delaney, Professor of Physics and
Astronomy at Toronto's York University; and Academy-Award winning filmmaker
James Cameron ('Titanic') who is a member of NASA's special advisory
committee. The astronauts interviewed on "Mars Rising" include Chris Hadfield,
the first Canadian mission specialist and the first Canadian to operate the
Canadarm in orbit; Canadian Dave Williams currently on board the Atlantis and
expected to make three space walks on the Shuttle Endeavour in August 2007;
retired NASA astronaut Jerry Linenger, who spent 132 days aboard the ISS Mir
in 1997; and Jeffrey Hoffman who was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of
Fame earlier this year.
    William Shatner narrates "Mars Rising" - and it's not the first time that
the multiple-award-winning actor has worked with Discovery Channel Canada!
Commissioned by Discovery Channel, the hit 2005 special 'How William Shatner
Changed the World' was hosted and narrated by the Star Trek icon, and based on
his book, I'm Working On That. The cheeky and irreverent doc showcased the
brightest minds of Silicon Valley and their Trek-inspired inventions that have
changed the world.

    -   "Mars Rising: Journey to the Red Planet"
        Sun., Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. ET /9 p.m. PT on Discovery Channel and
        Discovery HD

        Dr. James Garvin, lead scientist for Mars and Lunar Exploration at
        NASA; and Dr. Paul Delaney, Professor Physics and Astronomy at
        Toronto's York University, set the stage outlining the extraordinary
        challenges and obstacles faced by the international space community
        in sending a manned mission to Mars - and bringing it back.

    -   "Mars Rising: Rocket Power"
        Sun., Oct. 7 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT on Discovery Channel and
        Discovery HD

        The spacecraft that will take a crew to Mars will be assembled - in
        space. Up to 10 rockets will be required to carry equipment and the
        astronauts to the mothership. The 56-million-kilometre journey to and
        from the Red Planet could take up to three years. Will the fuel be
        thermo-nuclear or super-heated charged particles? Engineers must get
        it right the first time - or the astronauts will die.

    -   "Mars Rising: Staying Alive"
        Sun., Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT on Discovery Channel and
        Discovery HD

        Zero gravity depleting muscle and bone mass, cosmic radiation causing
        brain damage and cancer, six astronauts in a confined and limited
        environment for up to three years - a voyage to Mars could be
        punishing for the human body. How will we protect it?

    -   "Mars Rising: The Human Factor"
        Sun., Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT on Discovery Channel and
        Discovery HD

        The human spirit itself may be the Achilles heel of the Mars Mission.
        Mental breakdown, sexual tension, near-suicide and mutiny have
        already taken place on shorter space missions. There is a 50 per cent
        failure rate in Mars landings - how do they persevere against the

    -   "Mars Rising: Six Minutes of Terror"
        Sun., Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT on Discovery Channel and
        Discovery HD

        The last six minutes of the flight to Mars are the most terrifying.
        Only an inflatable aeroshell will protect the capsule as it enters
        Mars' atmosphere at a temperature of 4,000?C and a speed of 16,000
        km/hr. After the capsule's speed has been slowed, the astronauts have
        90 seconds to pinpoint a safe place to land.

    -   "Mars Rising: Search for Life"
        Sun., Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT on Discovery Channel and
        Discovery HD

        Is there life on Mars? Scientists in North America are combing the
        most barren places on Earth to search out bacteria, amino acids or
        carbonates that might offer clues. What if Mars has its own
        independently created life forms which are deadly to humans?
        Researchers on the Arctic's frigid Devon Island, British Columbia's
        Pavilion Lake, Chile's Atacama Desert and caves in New Mexico offer
        compelling research data.

    "Earth to Mars: The Great Space Debate"
    Sun., Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT on Discovery Channel

    This one-hour special wraps up "Race to Mars" and "Mars Rising" and puts
plans for a manned mission to Mars under the microscope with the ultimate
litmus test. An esteemed panel of scientists and space experts dissect the
risks, challenges and dangers of a mission that could last as long as three
years. Moderated by "Daily Planet" co-host Jay Ingram, the "Earth To Mars: The
Great Space Debate" panel features NASA Chief Scientist James Garvin;
co-founder of The Mars Society Robert Zubrin; and Psychiatrist and former NASA
flight surgeon Doctor Pat Santy. Featuring illustrative scenes from "Race to
Mars" and "Mars Rising," the experts will tackle everything from the
astronomical expense involved in mounting a human mission to the Red Planet,
to crew selection and cabin fever, to the probability of life on Mars. In
addition to the panel debate, this special will feature exclusive expert
testimonials along with exclusive behind the scenes footage from the
production of "Race to Mars."

    About the Public Debate

    Join the debate! The "Earth To Mars: The Great Space Debate" special will
be taped on Sat., Sept. 15 at The Music Hall in Toronto at 7:30 p.m. ET. This
public and interactive event featuring exclusive access to the world's
foremost experts in the field will explore ongoing research into a human
voyage to Mars, preparations for the most dangerous mission ever as well as
the incredible scientific and engineering obstacles still in the way. Catch a
sneak peek at footage from "Race to Mars" and "Mars Rising," meet the
panellists and ask your questions about a future Mars mission. Visit
DiscoveryChannel.ca/mars to pre-register for free tickets. For space
enthusiasts outside of the Toronto area, the event will stream LIVE on
Discovery Broadband and at DiscoveryChannel.ca.

    About RaceToMars.ca Interactive and Educational Elements

    A fully immersive and interactive experience, Mars is now alive at
RaceToMars.ca, in the classroom, in a companion book and a touring exhibit.
Based on the impeccably researched "Race to Mars" and "Mars Rising" series,
these elements tie into the television series and explain the exciting science
behind what's onscreen, deepening the Mars experience. One of the most
ambitious interactive projects in the country, RaceToMars.ca brings the world
of Mars exploration to life. Produced by Quickplay Media, this online hub
features games, articles, video and a vibrant online community for casual
visitors, students, gamers and debaters alike. Drive a rover on Mars with the
richly-realized 3D multi-player game RoverXPL. Or play the puzzle-game
OnOrbit, and use the next-generation Canadarm to build a virtual spaceship in
Earth's orbit. Along with many other games and simulations, the site offers
in-depth articles and interactive features on all aspects of the mission.
Students and teachers can delve deeper into Mars exploration with the
curriculum-based reference-book and science-experiments for various
grade-levels. Above all, RaceToMars.ca is designed as a community website that
will enrich and enhance the debate about space-travel. With activities,
information, and a place to ask your own questions or share your own thoughts,
the website is a place for experts, students and newcomers alike. Access the
site via DiscoveryChannel.ca or directly at RaceToMars.ca to join the greatest
adventure of our lifetime!

    About the Book Race to Mars

    Published by the highly respected Madison Press and educational publisher
Barron's, and written by Dana Berry, the book Race to Mars shows how a human
mission to Mars could happen. Taking the reader from the work of early
astronomers, to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and to experiments conducted
in the harsh environs of the Arctic, Berry constructs a detailed portrait - in
words and dramatic visuals - of the entire mission and its place in the
history of Mars exploration: the spacecraft, the crew and the dangerous yet
irresistible planet itself. The book draws from the extensive interviews and
exhaustive research conducted for "Race to Mars" and "Mars Rising" and is
illustrated by images from the "Race to Mars" series.

    About the Exhibit The Challenge of Mars

    The Ontario Science Centre is so impressed with the work of the "Race to
Mars" production design crew that the Centre will showcase the series' surface
exploration vehicles (Mars Rovers), space suits, air lock doors,
computer/special-effects clips and elements of the interactive games in its
exhibit, The Challenge of Mars, which will open in Toronto in June 2008 and is
scheduled to tour internationally.

    Discovery Channel
    Bold and leading edge, while informing and entertaining, Discovery
Channel is Canada's leading source for factual programming, as it puts a new
spin on exploring adventure, science and technology. This award-winning
channel covers the scientific beat, from animals to the animalistic side of
humanity, from the sea to space, and the latest in innovation. TV Trends and
Quality (TVQ) Survey consistently ranks Discovery Channel Canada first among
all English-language Canadian specialty networks for overall quality of
programming. Discovery Channel is one of the first Canadian specialty channels
to offer programs in HDTV and its production house, Exploration Production
Inc. (EPI), continues to be internationally recognized as a producer of
cutting-edge programming. The channel's Web site may be found at

    Discovery HD
    Taking Discovery Channel programming to a bigger and bolder platform,
Discovery HD is Canada's first 24-hour specialty service broadcasting
exclusively in High Definition. With a fascinating perspective on science and
technology, adventure, engineering and natural history, Discovery HD is at the
forefront of innovative factual storytelling, fusing critically acclaimed
programming from Canada and around the world with the latest in High
Definition technology. Discovery HD is wholly owned by Discovery Channel
Canada, a joint venture between CTV Specialty Television Inc. and Discovery

For further information:

For further information: Jodi Cook, Discovery Channel, (416) 332-4426 or
jcook@discovery.ca; or Maureen O'Donnell, Maureen O'Donnell Communications
Inc. (for Galafilm), (416) 929-1106 or mod@interlog.com; or Fiona McCall,
Fiona McCall Communications (for Galafilm), (416) 531-3434 or

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