Friday, January 20, 2012

"Space Tourists" (from Sundance library) shows civilians who will pay millions to pay to be trained as astronauts

Sundance is offering a 2009 documentary by Christian Frei, “Space Tourists”, which documents the experience of several civilians around the world who have paid up to $20 million to fly on Russian or European space shuttles. 

The documentary is in segments, including an effort in Kazakhstan with a young adult Iranian woman as a tourist (more or less taking the first hour), and then another project in Romania (from the viewpoint of a young engineer), and then a presentation of Russia’s Star City, where Charles Simonyi, architect of Microsoft Word and Excel, is trained, in a variety of situations (centrifuge, zero gravity, wilderness survival).  Imagine paying millions of your own money to do this?  Will Mark Zuckerberg try it (having the advantage of youth)?  Simonyi comments that this is like military life. (For survival training, they are given weapons with one round.)  The young woman says she is willing not to come back from space.

There is also a section where ragtag engineers camp out on the steppes to recover components of the Soyuz as it falls.

Much of the early part is photographed by young Norwegian Jonas Bendiksen, who explains the physics of a lot of the shuttle work.

Toward the end, there is an effective animation of a lunar landing echoing the mood of Kubrick’s “2001”.
This film (as well as Thursday’s here) comes from a list of “New discoveries from Sundance film festival”.  I could not find these in the 2012 alphabetized list  (here ).
Here is the official site for this film. 

There is a review today of “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” on my “films on threats to freedom” blog (see Profile, look for “cf”).

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