London — Kate Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov, Sergey Kud-Sverchkov — ring any bells? If you know it without googling, you’re surely in a minority. The three International Space Station astronauts, who have been quietly orbiting our planet since last month and have now welcomed a new batch of crew mates ferried up by SpaceX, are not exactly household names.

But that’s the price of progress. Sixty years ago, the men who first visited humanity’s final frontier were bona-fide celebrities, as The Real Right Stuff, a new documentary on Disney Plus, makes clear. Yuri Gagarin, who in April 1961 became the first human in space, drew admiring crowds in his native Russia and abroad. His rivals on the other side of the Cold War’s space race — the seven astronauts in Nasa’s Mercury programme, on which Tom Jennings’s gripping film focuses — were no less famous...

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