Keeping The Space Dream Alive

Space exploration is not dead. A new film at Houston's Museum of Natural Science examines human spaceflight after the end of the Shuttle program.

Seating inside the Museum of Natural Science Planetarium was at a premium with the 4th graders from Valley West and North Belt Elementary. They are the first to see the new space movie that was created and produced by the museum. Dr Carolyn Sumners is vice president of astronomy and physics at the museum.

“We decided to call it ‘We Choose Space!’, as sort of an honor of John Kennedy’s ‘We choose to go to the moon’, which was said of course here at Rice 50 years ago. So we thought it’s time to look back and to chronicle what we’ve done. So even though right now, we don’t have a whole bunch of astronauts going into space on the space shuttle, we have the dream, is I think is alive, and that’s what the show is all about, and we tried to make it as exciting as we could.”

The film features possibilities through space travel, tourist flights to the moon, and recreates what a possible lunar colony might be like.

“We also wanted real astronauts on the moon, not simulated, not animated, but the real guys. So you get a feeling of what it’s really like to bounce around on the moon and then, shortly before his death, Walter Cronkite taped an interview with us about what it would it would be like in a future moon base. It’s based upon the work of John Young the astronaut, and so we decided to build it, because that was a really neat thing to have. We had Walter Cronkite’s words, and we could make his vision a reality.”

We Choose Space! is the first planetarium show that is told completely by astronauts, including Scott Parazynski. He’s a veteran of seven space walks onboard the International Space Station and the MIR Space Station. He’s now
at the Methodist Hospital and Research Institute. He says the film serves to continue and inspire space exploration.

Former Astronaut Scott Parazynski talking to students
Former Astronaut Scott Parazynski talking to students after viewing ‘We Choose Space!.’

“What will NASA’s role be, in exploration beyond, and I hope that America will continue to lead in bold, audacious types of exploration. Ultimately, our destination is to get to Mars, and explore for life that might have once evolved there.”

PH: “Can you envision that some of the kids that are watching this film, will one day become an astronaut?”

Parazynski: “I certainly see a bright future for the kids that work really hard in school, and then can hold on to those dreams for their future.”

The film will be initially distributed to some 700 planetariums around the world.