The Martian has NASA Debut and Press Day
NASA hosted a day for the press to take a look behind the scenes at the Johnson Space Center, in prep for 20th Century Fox upcoming film The Martian. Two of the films actors Mackenzie Davis (That Awkward Moment) and Sebastian Stan (Captain America: Winter Soldier) were also on hand for the event and to promote the film. Ridley Scott (Gladiator) is the director of The Martian, adapted from Andy Weir’s scientific thriller starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain. The movie takes place slightly in the future where the first mission to Mars, taking 4 years, is successful, but botanist Mark Watney is stranded on the red planet after being presumed dead. The film is a two hour rescue mission filled with science and MacGyver type survival skills.
Members of the press were introduced to Stan, Davis and JPC director Dr. Ellen Ochoa as she moderated an interview with the Hollywood actors and their mirrored counterparts Col. Michael S. Hopkins (USAF), NASA Astronaut and Ms. Pooja Jesrani, ISS Flight Controller (ADCO). The actors had lots of questions for the flight controller and especially the astronaut about their experience filming space versus being in space. Both Stan and Davis have small supporting roles in the film so the audience didn’t get a real grasp on maybe what Damon or Chastain’s experiences were.
NASA has reason to celebrate the arrival of The Martian, 2015 marks 50 years of successful NASA missions to Mars starting with Mariner 4 in 1965. Since then, a total of 15 robotic missions led by various NASA centers have laid the groundwork for future human missions to the Red Planet. The journey to Mars continues with additional robotic missions planned for 2016 and 2020, and human missions in the 2030s. Later in the day Dr. Ochoa and her team fielded questions from the press about when and if we will ever get to Mars. The response was that the technology is almost there but not the human body.
NASA has reason to celebrate the arrival of The Martian, 2015 marks 50 years of successful NASA missions to Mars starting with Mariner 4 in 1965.
Stan and Davis were also treated to rides in space vehicles. Starting with the Lunar Rover which had a wild turning radiance that had Davis holding on for dear life as the driver did donuts in the parking lot. Both actors got a chance behind the wheel before they hopped aboard the Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) which moved much slower and was fitted with a bubble window. Members of the press were also allowed inside the vehicle. The purpose was to get visual comparison to the vehicles that would appear later in the day on screen in The Martian. Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (The Help, Interstellar) actually spent time at NASA earlier in the year, training for her role as Captain Melissa Lewis. The actress no stranger to Galveston County, was here earlier in her career filming Tree of Life.
Finally a live link with the international space station where the actors had a conversation with two Americans in space Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren occurred at Mission Control. The actors giggled and asked questions about how the astronauts watched movies and what they did when they were bored. Both Kelly, who had hit his 180th day in space, and Lindgren, got to say hello to their families who were present during the discussion. From there we saw a screening of the film with all the whose-who of NASA. You could hear murmurs and whispers throughout the film, no doubt on what liberties the film had taken with representing NASA and future technology. You can find my review of the film at on its Oct 2nd release day.