Among the Stars is a six-part documentary series Disney+ Original following NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and the crew around him over several years and a critical mission to repair a multi-billion dollar science experiment.
If you have ever for a moment been enamored by the wonders of outer space, cried watching the magic of a rocket launch, or gazed into the stars and wondered what it might be like to twinkle among them: Among the Stars is for you. Just as well, if you’ve ever watched in horror at the dangers of space’s vacuum or revolted at the sheer audacity it takes to become a NASA scientist, let alone an astronaut, Among the Stars is for you.
Among the Stars is the incredibly personal and intimate story of one astronaut’s journey to partaking in a repair mission for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) aboard the International Space Station (ISS). It combines documentary footage, personal video logs, and excellent computer-generated images to depict this story over several years and from every angle. You’ll cry with joy watching NASA’s scientists watch the fruits of years and years of their labor launch into space. You’ll feel devastated when personal or technical setbacks plague the mission. And along the way, you’ll learn a whole lot about what it takes to do research in outer space safely and effectively.
There is no part of the series that doesn’t land (failed rocket launches notwithstanding). It’s a testament to excellent documentary making that it so seamlessly weaves together the personal and professional. While it is primarily Chris Cassidy’s story, it’s really the story of a whole team. Every episode expertly ties individual stories to their own pasts, then to a greater historical context, and then back to the scientific realities of the research, and back to the personal. Shots from within Johnson Space Center, the ISS, or individuals’ homes are equally weighted and never cease to wow. It captures so well the triumphs of individuals and mankind through the emotions everyone brings to the work they do and their stories.
The shots from space are especially amazing, but so are the pieces of CGI used to help demonstrate different scientific aspects of the mission or diagram the components. These touches provide a visual aid I would consider essential to understanding the more complicated processes or theories the astronauts and scientists so easily sound off.
It’s not just a show about the triumphs, though. It’s even more so a show about the challenges and setbacks of space. Astronauts are bumped from already rare and far between flights. Tools don’t work as they’re designed. Lives are endangered. And not to mention, a pandemic ravages the entire planet in the middle of the mission. The attention Among the Stars gives to the harder aspects of NASA’s work ground the show in reality. It’s not all just fun and noble prizes. There’s an immense and constant risk, danger, and disappointment perfectly illuminated throughout the series.
The only real issue I found in watching the series was just how starkly it demonstrates how male-dominated and how predominantly white the staff and astronauts of NASA are. This isn’t the series’ fault necessarily, and it does get addressed briefly from time to time; but you can’t interview people who don’t exist, yet. The docuseries does offer a beautiful glimpse into the future of space exploration, including the next generation of astronauts.
Nonetheless, Among the Stars itself is a triumph, offering an amazing depiction of life at NASA, here on the ground and at the ISS. Through the amazing and the tragic, the show’s recency and attention to emotion make it a must-watch for any fan of outer space.
Among the Stars is streaming now on Disney+.
Among the Stars
- Rating - 8/108/10
Among the Stars itself is a triumph, offering an amazing depiction of life at NASA, here on the ground and at the ISS. Through the amazing and the tragic, the show’s recency and attention to emotion make it a must-watch for any fan of outer space.