Station crew recommends “The Martian” in plug from space


Space station astronaut Kjell Lindgren said Tuesday he and commander Scott Kelly are big fans of Andy Weir’s book “The Martian,” adding they’re hopeful NASA will beam up a copy of the Ridley Scott movie as soon as it’s released.

Speaking with reporters during an orbital news conference, Lindgren said he and Kelly were able to chat with Matt Damon, star of “The Martian,” when the actor recently visited NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

“That was a lot of fun,” Lindgren said. “We heard that Matt was touring JPL at the time and so we took the opportunity to call down. That was a neat conversation. It was certainly fun for us, and from the picture we saw of him at JPL, it looked like he was having fun as well.

“It’s neat to think about the trip we’re going to have to Mars (someday),” Lindgren added. “I really enjoyed the book, and I’m looking forward to the movie. We’re hopeful that we’ll get a copy up here either on the day or release or soon thereafter.”

“The Martian” tells the story of an American astronaut — Damon’s character — stranded on the red planet and his struggles to survive until a rescue can be attempted. In an earlier NASA interview, Damon said he was fascinated by the premise and the heroism of the men and women who explore space.

“It’s all about pushing that envelope, to further our kind of human experience and, you know, the survival of the species,” he said from JPL’s flight control center. “It’s dependent upon someday getting off of this planet and going out. And we’re in the kind of infancy of that.”

Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are midway through a nearly yearlong stay aboard the station, but Kelly said other than the duration, his flight doesn’t have much in common with an actual Mars voyage.

“I think for the folks who go to Mars, especially the first time, that’s going to be such an incredible destination and event that they’re going to be really psyched up for getting there,” Kelly said. “I’m not saying I’m not psyched up for the rest of this flight (but) in some ways, almost being halfway through, a lot of what we’re going to be doing is very similar to what we’ve already done.”

Kelly and Kornienko were launched to the space station last March 27, accompanied by Soyuz commander Gennady Padalka. Kelly and Kornienko plan to return to Earth next March, but Padalka plans to fly home Friday to close out a 168-day stay in space.

“And that obviously wouldn’t happen on Mars,” Kelly said. “That makes it a little bit different with people coming and going. So I think it’s hard to compare the two experiences. But man, I’m excited by the folks who get to go to Mars someday.”

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.