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Interview Brew: NASA reviews Lost In Space

Thank you to #ShannonCollins for the wonderful interview!

The following is our interview with Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar and Dr. John M. Grunsfeld of NASA regarding the series Lost In Space!

Written by Shannon Collins of the DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2018 Netflix kicked off its reboot of “Lost in Space” this weekend, with its main characters, the Robinson family, being a military family. Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, who developed space flight systems at the National Academies of Science and is a former military spouse, said she could relate.

“As I was watching the pilot, I was thinking about all of the parallels between Dr. Robinson’s life and my life,” she told the audience at Awesome Con here in Washington, D.C., March 31. “My former husband was deployed to Iraq while I was working on a space station program, both helping to develop the operations and the payloads for the program while also raising children. It’s really interesting to see that now on the screen.”

Show creators, executive producers and writers Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama said they took both the original storyline of “The Swiss Family Robinson” and “Lost in Space” from the ‘60s as inspiration but wanted to tell the story of a family and how they work together using their wits, skills and intuition to overcome a monster or a space storm.

People in Space:

During the panel, Dittmar: the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration Director – and astronaut Dr. John M. Grunsfeld: associate administrator for the science mission directorate at NASA,  were asked by the moderator what the real possibilities were for sending people to space.

“We have been sending people in space continuously for about 17 years about 250 miles up,” said Dittmar. “We do have people in space. We developed those systems. I’ve worked on them.”

Dittmar said she could see some of the differences from the show, such as gravity onboard the vessel “We’re not at the point where we have artificial gravity, but I can certainly make the jump from where we are now to getting into some of those places.”

Grunsfeld, who worked on the Hubble mission, said his first mission in space was a 17-day mission in 1995. He said he didn’t want to return.

“When I went to space the first time, I felt like I was at home, it was the only time I’ve ever felt at home, at peace, it’s when I’m in space,” he said reminiscently. “I’d be happier living in space.”

He said his second mission was on the Mir Space Station, and he could relate to the original “Lost in Space” mission scenarios.

I learned some real interesting things there and certainly about risks,” he told the audience. “With ‘Lost in Space,’ we see the Robinsons, this family, going through a lot of risk assessment as they leave the Resolute, as they get into their Jupiter, as they plummet into the atmosphere, encountering every possible thing that could go wrong.

“On the Mir Space Station, we had a collision in space, we had a fire onboard, we had a toxic atmosphere, and we had a depressurization,” he said. “Some of the things that happened in the first episode, these are real things that can happen in space.”

Grunsfeld said space is a metaphor for human exploration and struggles that could happen anywhere and have happened throughout human history.

“It’s this wonderful story of survival, of tolerance, of adversity, of exploration that was already captured in this first episode and that we experience at NASA and in our worldwide space exploration.”

PCU extends special thanks to Shannon Collins of the DOD for this interview and please stay tuned to PCU for more coverage of Lost In Space!

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