The Martian

Orange and Red Persians, from the Persian Series, 1988, Dale Chihuly

Orange and Red Persians, from the Persian Series, 1988, Dale Chihuly

We viewed “The Martian” and enjoyed it. I had read the book or at least a free online version of it and the movie seemed pretty faithful to the book. Part of the reason that I chose to rent the movie now, was because of something that Mark Kelly had said last week. We had attended a lecture, where he and his wife, Gabby Giffords both spoke. After the lecture, in the Q&A session, an audience member asked Kelly what were his favorite movies about space travel. He said that he liked the nonfiction ones the best, like “The Right Stuff”, “Apollo 13” and “The Martian”. When I related his answer the next day at work, it got a round of chuckles, because as accurate as it maybe in capturing the details of real spaceflight, the film is a work of fiction. I can excuse Kelly’s oversight though, because as an astronaut one of his life goals is to travel to Mars, a goal that with his family responsibilities, he may not now be able to achieve.

The question allowed Kelly to tell some of his many space yarns. His identical twin brother Scott is currently onboard the International Space Station (ISS) and is going for the American spaceflight endurance record. Mark said that he is acting as the control in this experiment. He mentioned that when you return to earth, your feet hurt the most. He introduced his brother as the astronaut who threw the football from the ISS on Stephen Colbert’s “Late Night” show, after the Super bowl. Scott had sort of muffed the throw on live TV and Mark in a fit of sibling rivalry made a point of that.

He kind of dodged a question about his beliefs about space aliens, telling the audience that he has been to earth five times and space four. There was a question concerning US reliance on Russian boosters. He deflected that one saying that astronauts and cosmonauts had always gotten along very well together and that it helps to have a common enemy, space. This question led to an anecdote about a Japanese space tourist. For $40M the Russians will fly rich tourists to the ISS. This one gentleman also asked if he could do a spacewalk. The Russians said yes, for another $10M. Then the Japanese tourist asked if he could bring a samurai sword on the spacewalk. The Russians refunded his money. The moral of the story is that space is no place to be fooling around.

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