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Films to Watch on Space Day

May/07/2023 / by Melanie Fourie

True and fictional tales that will take you take you into cinematic orbit

Impression of an astronaut in space
Impression of an astronaut in space. Pic courtesy Pexels

Since 1997, on the first Friday of every May, the U.S. observes National Space Day to honor all things cosmic. In view of this, consider heading to your library and streaming a spacewalk documentary, or grabbing a telescope and checking out the Milky Way after sunset. Having done that, round off your day by watching some space movies. Take a look at our compilation of space movies and brace yourself for some intergalactic travel.

Return to Space

This American documentary was directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and produced by Netflix. It chronicles Elon Musk and the SpaceX team’s two-decade quest to revive NASA’s human spaceflight program by returning people to the International Space Station. The movie became available on April 7, 2022. In it, Musk and his multicultural crew of SpaceX astronauts, engineers, and administrative staff chart bold new courses to revive U.S. and international space exploration. Included are professional and personal images of important team members. It also provides information on the attributes necessary for success aboard the ISS.

The Mars Generation

Michael Barnett’s 97-minute space documentary, premiered in 2017 with support from Time magazine,. The film follows a group of adolescent Mars explorer aspirants training at Space Camp in Alabama. The film delves into the youngsters’ preparation for their Mars expedition, following their astronaut training by professionals. The work includes exercises, simulated deep-space flights, sitting in replica ships, and more. The film includes in-depth discussions with industry insiders. They describe NASA’s past and potential, as well as what’s needed to make a human mission to Mars feasible. Watch this film on Netflix.


Living in space is not without its difficulties. In Joe Penna’s 2021 sci-fi thriller, nothing goes as planned. Three astronauts (Toni Collette, Anna Kendrick, and Daniel Dae Kim) discover a stowaway on board their ship on a two-year voyage to Mars. There won’t be adequate oxygen or provisions to last all four for the whole voyage. The events that follow are a sci-fi spin on the age-old moral conundrum of who to save from a sinking ship. This entertaining film is ideal for unwinding after a day of space discovery. You can find it on Netflix.

First Man

Inspired by James R. Hansen’s 2005 nonfiction work of the same name, this is a biographical drama about Neil Armstrong’ role. It was released in the United States in 2018. Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong in the film, which also features Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, and others. In the early 1960s, NASA devised a series of very risky, first-of-their-kind missions to reach the moon before the end of the decade. Neil Armstrong, an engineer, signs up for NASA’s space program and, after years of preparation and perilous test flights, finally goes into orbit. On July 16, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins set out on the Apollo 11 space mission. DirectTV, Google Play, AMC on Demand, Vudu, and Apple iTunes all offer “First Man” for rent, purchase, or streaming through subscription. This flick is also available on Amazon Prime.

Hidden Figures

The story is about three African-American women on NASA’s space task group who aided the initial American space missions. “Hidden Figures” rises beyond its conventional premise of telling an uplifting tale about an overlooked chapter in NASA’s history. It shines a light on the harsh racial relations of the 1960s. This film is about smart, passionate women of color who refuse to be overshadowed. It’s held together by three excellent performances that earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer). You can find this film on Google Play.


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