Jason Hehir, director of Countdown: Inspiration 4 Mission to Space, is over the moon about the show’s breathtaking footage of Earth — taken from 585 kilometers, or 364 miles, above our planet.
The footage appears in the fifth and final episode of the Netflix docuseries about SpaceX’s Inspiration4, the first all-civilian mission to space, which is now streaming.
Hehir said he and producer Jacob Rogal were the first people ever to see such high-resolution video taken by humans from that high up above the earth. The crew of Inspiration4 made sure to bring smartphones on their three-day ride around our planet earlier this month so that Hehir could use the footage in the docuseries.
He was originally worried about not having enough space footage — until he saw the 82 hours of videos the crew took during flight.
“The most extraordinary part of it for me was that night when they came back, they flew back on a helicopter from the boat where they were retrieved, this recovery vessel, and the helicopter landed at the hangar at Kennedy Space Center where they reunited with their families, and that was incredibly emotional. Then they had to immediately convoy to a building at Kennedy Space Center to get some medical testing done,” Hehir told MovieMaker. “We were following them with cameras and when we arrived at that building, someone walked over and handed me a pouch with the four cell phones that they had taken to space with them and filmed all the footage that’s in the show.”
He continued: “No one has ever seen that before and it had just been in outer space. We sat there in the front of our rental car, myself and my producer Jake Rogal, and we were looking at this footage for the first time. No one has ever seen images from 585 kilometers in 4k ever of the earth, and we’re looking at that as the first human beings ever to see the earth from that perspective. It was absolutely stunning.”
The final episode of the docuseries is filled with footage of four of the happiest people (not) on earth, gazing out the window of the Dragon capsule down at the big blue marble below and floating around in zero-gravity. The crew of Inspiration4 consisted of its commander, Shift4 CEO and experienced pilot Jason Isaacman; Hayley Arceneaux, a childhood cancer survivor who now works as a physician’s assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she once received treatment; Chris Sembroski, a former U.S. Space Camp counselor and Air Force veteran now working in the aerospace industry; and Dr. Sian Proctor, an artist, poet, geoscientist, explorer, and science communication specialist whose father received a personal thank-you from Neil Armstrong for his help from the ground during the landing of the Apollo 11 mission.
In addition to making history for being the first all-civilian crew to go to space, Inspiratoin4 also surpassed its $200 million fundraising goal for St. Jude, according to CNBC.
Hehir said he was expecting the Inspiration4 crew to be pretty worn out when he conducted their post-space interviews the day they returned — but they proved him wrong.
“I was pleasantly surprised. I thought that they would be so overwhelmed when they got back that they wouldn’t be able to articulate how they felt, because I interviewed them Sunday afternoon so it was less than 24 hours — it was about 16 hours later, after they got back to Earth, I interviewed them,” he said. “But they each had distinct perspectives on what was the most memorable and valuable aspect of the experience for them… they actually were really incisive and really, really compelling in their interviews the next day.”
As for what this mission means to the future of space travel? Hehir has high hopes.
“It’s pretty extraordinary to think that people could be watching this in 100 years. I always thought back to, what if someone had done a documentary about Charles Lindbergh? Him preparing to fly across the Atlantic, and then his actual flight. That was considered to be impossible, and 10 years later, we had commercial transatlantic travel,” he said. “I think that this mission… is going to kick down the door to civilians traveling in space, and I don’t mean going to Mars or the Moon just for fun.”
All five episodes of Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space are now streaming on Netflix.
Main Image: (L-R) Dr. Sian Proctor and Hayley Arceneaux in Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space courtesy of Netflix