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The Final (Film) Frontier: Talking favorite space movies, and why a real-life rocket scientist says ‘First Man’ tops her list

A scene from the movie '2001: A Space Odyssey'
A scene from the movie '2001: A Space Odyssey'
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“First Man” the biographical drama about Neil Armstrong and the legendary space mission that led him to walk on the moon opens in theaters this weekend.

In the past few years it’s fairly common to see a big-budget Hollywood movie about space exploration. Whether it was 2015’s “The Martian”, 2014’s Interstellar, or 2013’s “Gravity” Hollywood seems to love sending celebrities into space.

But Hollywood’s love of space isn’t just limited to the past decade. Movies like “The Right Stuff”, “Apollo 13”, The Star Wars, Star Trek, and Alien franchises, and even “2001: A Space Odyssey” (which was released in theaters 16 months before Armstrong stepped foot on the moon) have shown that audiences love movies about humans, and other life forms, in space.

Earlier this week on AirTalk, we aired a segment about Los Angeles' role in the future of human space travel and spoke with rocket scientist and USC professor Anita Sengupta, who mentioned to Larry Mantle in passing that "First Man" is the best space movie she's ever seen, so we brought her back to explain why. We’ll also discuss and ask the question “Just how accurate are these movies in their depiction of space and space travel?”

If you’ve got any questions for Dr. Sengupta regarding the accuracy of space exploration in movies, or have a favorite or all-time great space movie to share, give us call at 866-893-5722.


Anita Sengupta, rocket scientist, aerospace engineer who formerly worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, adjunct research associate professor of astronautics at USC, and senior vice president of systems engineering at Virgin Hyperloop One, the L.A.-based tech company that built the first operational Hyperloop in Las Vegas; she tweets @Doctor_Astro

Amy Nicholson, film critic for KPCC, film writer for The Guardian and host of the podcasts ‘The Canon’ and ‘Unspooled’; she tweets @TheAmyNicholson

Tim Cogshell, film critic for KPCC, Alt-Film Guide and; he tweets @CinemaInMind