(Image credit: Netflix)
The first all-civilian mission on a SpaceX Crew Dragon is getting the star treatment.
Netflix plans to produce a documentary, “Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space,” following the adventures of the Inspiration4 crew scheduled to launch to space for a three-day mission later in 2021.
The entertainment giant confirmed the production Tuesday (Aug. 3) on it Twitter. Inspiration4’s Twitter added its own commentary to the Netflix announcement Wednesday (Aug. 4): “We can’t wait for you to watch ‘Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission To Space’ on @netflix, covering our crew’s exciting, out-of-this-world journey.”
The privately chartered Inspiration4 plans to fly four people to space in September, including billionaire Jared Isaacman, cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux (whom Isaacman invited), data engineer Chris Sembroski and geoscientist, science communicator and artist Sian Proctor. Sembroski and Proctor’s seats were awarded from contests that Isaacman ran in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — also Arcenaux’s workplace and the spot where she received her cancer treatments years ago.
The documentary will be co-produced by Time Studios, and is directed by Jason Hehir — creator of the Michael Jordan series “The Last Dance.”
For Netflix, Inspiration4 will represent a new shift to near real-time documentary production, according to Deadline. The mission launch is scheduled for Sept. 15, and Netflix will be releasing two pairs of episodes about it on Sept. 6 and Sept. 13. The final of the series will be live at the end of September. (Naturally, this schedule assumes the launch happens on time.)
“The quick-turnaround series will take viewers behind the scenes with the four crew members — from their unconventional selection and intensive months-long commercial astronaut training, through the intimate and emotional moments leading up to liftoff,” Deadline said in its report. “The final episode, which premieres just days after the mission is completed, will feature unprecedented access inside the spacecraft, capturing the launch and the crew.”
Netflix also plans to release a “hybrid live-action animation special for kids and families” about the mission to air Sept. 14, the day before the launch. This kid-friendly viewing option will answer some of their common questions about Inspiration4, such as how rockets work, how people eat and sleep in space, and mission basics, according to The Verge.
Like many other streaming companies, Netflix has benefited financially from the pandemic. The company stated in its July 2020 quarterly results that its subscriber growth remains ahead of forecast — now standing at 209 million paid memberships — although the company has experienced “lumpiness” as restrictions ease and the pace of new subscriptions slows.
Netflix’s decision to co-produce the Inspiration4 documentary comes weeks after two other billionaire passenger spaceflights launched and landed safely in July, days apart from each other. The crewed missions of Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity (including founder Richard Branson) and Blue Origin’s New Shepard (including founder Jeff Bezos) attracted extensive commentary online in the days surrounding those two launches.
Some of the main themes of these discussions included whether the billionaires were in competition (they both denied it, even after Blue Origin released a snarky infographic about Virgin Galactic), the worth of sending rich people and their invitees into space, and what the missions will mean for the future of space tourism — questions that may also be asked of Inspiration4 as launch day approaches.
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.
Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for Space.com who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is the author or co-author of several books on space exploration. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota in Space Studies, and an M.Sc. from the same department. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University in Canada, where she began her space-writing career in 2004. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level, and for government training schools. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @howellspace.