Back to Space Review |  Celebration of the US Space Program

Back to Space Review | Celebration of the US Space Program

“The Earth is the cradle of humanity and you cannot stay in the cradle forever; It’s time to dump her and move on. “That phrase is part of the beginning of the Netflix documentary return to spacewhich celebrates the resumption of manned spaceflight from the United States with American rockets and capsules, and of course also highlights how SpaceX, the company founded by Elon Musk, changed the game of NASA while trying to advance ambitious plans to colonize someday. Mart.

First, we go back a few years, more precisely, to July 21, 2011. That day, the Atlantis space shuttle returned from space, ending a program marked by two tragedies and huge costs for NASA. . In the absence of space shuttlePaying billions of dollars for seats aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft was the only way for NASA to take its astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

That scenario began to change with the Commercial Crew Program, an initiative by which NASA partners with private companies to transport astronauts to the ISS. In 2020, astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken went to the orbital lab aboard a Crew Dragon capsule installed on a Falcon 9 rocket, both from SpaceX.

They traveled during the Demo-2 demonstration mission, the first manned launch in the United States since 2011. Since then, the space agency no longer had to rely on Russia for its manned launches at the station. which could finally be done again in the US. land. – It is worth remembering that, even so, we still saw American astronauts going to the laboratory and returning to Earth on the Russian spacecraft.

This is the change we are following return to spaceunder the direction of Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi.

From the ground to the space

Summarizing in about 2 hours of production such an important step for the American space program is not easy, but the Netflix documentary does the work and risks further, offering entertainment and even tension for those who are watching it. . Part of that is in the scenes that show the (almost palpable!) Expectation of SpaceX employees during the first rocket launches of the Falcon family.

At the moment, we see them apprehensive waiting for what could be successful flights or explosions of space launch vehicles or in attempts at landing – which, although they mean the loss of rockets, also provide important learning. for adjustments and corrections required for new releases. . Much of this tension is visible in some of the scenes in which Elon Musk appears.

Back to Space also shows the teams behind the mission launches (Image: Full / Netflix)

Known for his, say, eccentric behavior, the billionaire always looks forward to the progress of SpaceX’s attempts and processes: in one scene, the anxiety is so great that he leaves the control room of the mission before he even know the result. Even for those who are not enthusiastic about astronautics, it is easy to understand the reason for so much nervousness.

The clarity of the contextualizations presented is a happy success of return to space. Of course, those who are already familiar with the subject will quickly understand the need for the company to prove to NASA that it was willing to work collaboratively, but on the other hand, those who are not up to date with the news of the sector will do. also to be able to follow the progress of events.

Finally, some of the milestones of the American space program should be mentioned, such as the tragedies with the Challenger and Columbia space shuttles and the legacy of the Apollo program. Unfortunately, the mentions are brief and do not go into much detail about what happened in the crashes or why NASA has not yet brought new astronauts to the moon. However, they serve to arouse the curiosity of the public.

Behind the scenes are a few glances

The International Space Station has been orbiting the Earth for more than 20 years and has hosted crews from different countries. The legacy of the orbital laboratory is long, and NASA and other associated space agencies often organize broadcasts, question and answer sessions, and other events to bring the public closer to the activities that take place there. This work of shortening the distance between astronauts and the public is also present return to space.

Netflix production finds time in the script to show the complex’s astronauts in orbit floating freely through the station or celebrating the arrival of new crew members; at another point, we see Bob Behnken grabbing a floating candy at the station during a live interview. These are fun and bright scenes that work to draw the audience’s attention to the work being done at the ISS.

Doug Hurley with Karen Nyberg and Jack Hurley (Image: Full / Netflix)

There are scenes in which they take us to “look” at the routines of Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley at home with their families; in others, we see stories of their wives (who are also astronauts!) telling how they met them and the challenges of working in space. The footage is short and, in addition to being interesting, shows a face of astronauts that can sometimes be forgotten between launches and experiments at the station.

Amid jokes about differences in each other’s ways, Behnken and Hurley also highlight the risks inherent in launching the Demo-2 mission. It is interesting to see them reminding the audience that they also feel a certain apprehension, and that these emotions extend to their children who, although small, already understand some of the dangers. Still, the duo faces the challenge and builds their trust in SpaceX and NASA.

The problem of excesses

It is undeniable that SpaceX was of astronomical importance for the resumption of space launches for both political and scientific reasons. This is proudly shown in the documentary on the streaming service, which praises the efficiency of Musk’s company and points out that NASA acknowledges that “little help” would not go wrong. The problem is, at the same time, return to space try to take advantage of some kind of unnecessary empathy with him.

From time to time, Musk’s name returns to the headlines due to some controversial comment or action, at least. Meanwhile, the documentary shows him risking “dancing” for reporters in interviews with laughter or playing with a flamethrower.

But don’t worry, Musk is not only in a “good mood” – we also see the richest man in the world with teary eyes after remembering that the astronauts on the Apollo program, which he calls heroes , harshly criticized NASA’s reliance on the spacecraft of private companies.

The documentary weighs heavily on the success of Musk’s company (Image: Disclosure / Netflix)

Look, seeing the “other side” of a public figure like him isn’t exactly a problem. What weighs in is the lack of critical eye on the part of the directors who, while pointing out these “funny bodies” of the SpaceX founder, only briefly go through episodes that are unfavorable to him and leave everything else out, for example, not the consequences of the expansion of SpaceX in Boca Chica, Texas are not mentioned, nor is the viability and consequences of bringing humanity to Mars questioned.

The lack of self-criticism also applies to the company, presented almost as the great savior of NASA. If today SpaceX can afford to operate rockets and then fix what is needed in the process to achieve good results, it is because it takes advantage of the legacy left by the state agency, its certifications and processes – which, although described as bureaucrats and other lenses are efficient.

at the end of return to space, we see some of the preparations for the launch of the Crew-1 mission, the first fully operational mission launched through the Commercial Crew Program. There is a feeling that something important is happening, initiated and provided by SpaceX and its technology and digital capsules, as if they were coming out of a futuristic film, and that it is worth following what is yet to come.

return to space is available in the Netflix catalog.

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