- 2 years ago

Exploring NASA's Johnson Space Center with the cast of The Martian

Lee Hutchinson

We're just about done with our coverage of The Martian at least until author Andy Weir pens a sequel. We've been to Toronto to see the premiere, we've talked with Matt Damon and Ridley Scott, and then earlier this week we got a chance to watch the movie a second time at a closed NASA screening in Houston. Though not as big and glitzy as the Toronto premiere, The Martian actors Mackenzie Davis (flight controller Mindy Park) and Sebastian Stan (Ares 3 flight surgeon Dr. Chris Beck) were on-hand, and they got some neat behind-the-scenes access at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Ars was invited to attend, and we're glad we did, because in addition to the movie's stars the day was filled with astronauts and awesome space stuff.

Rockets and people

The first event of the day was held in the Teague Auditorium in building 2 (like many other government installation, JSC's buildings are referred to typically by number). Davis and Stan shared the stage with JSC center director and former astronaut Ellen Ochoa, along with astronaut Mike "Hopper" Hopkins and ADCO flight controller Pooja Jesrani. Davis and Stan were asked about their experiences filming The Martian and they in turn had plenty of questions for Ochoa and Hopkins about how space flight works in the real world.

We were let go for lunch after the presentation, and we couldn't resist the opportunity to duck over into the Saturn V display to snap some pictures. It's an awesome machine and out of the three complete Saturn Vs on display in the world (at JSC, KSC, and MSFC), JSC's Saturn is the only one made up end-to-end of actual flight-ready stages.

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