Netflix’s trailer for its upcoming documentary on SpaceX’s private Inspiration4 spaceflight has landed to introduce the first all-civilian crew set to launch into orbit next month.
The near real-time Netflix series “Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space” — which breaks new territory for the long-time streaming provider — will air across several episodes launching on Sept. 2. SpaceX will launch the four civilian astronauts into orbit on a Crew Dragon spacecraft on Sept. 15.
The trailer, released Thursday (Aug. 19) on YouTube, shows the crew in training and promises that Inspiration4 will be the “next epic leap forward for civilians.” The one-minute teaser focuses on aspects such as overcoming disability, fundraising money for charity, and dealing with worries from families about the inherent risk of climbing on a rocket.
The privately chartered Inspiration4 plans to fly four people to space Sept. 15 aboard a SpaceX Dragon, orbiting Earth for three days. The crew includes billionaire and mission financier Jared Isaacman, childhood cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux (whom Isaacman invited), data engineer Chris Sembroski and Sian Proctor, a geoscientist, science communicator and artist. None of them are professional astronauts.
In the trailer, Netflix paid tribute to the two contests from which Sembroski and Proctor received their seats. One of Isaacman’s major goals of the mission is to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — also Arcenaux’s workplace and the spot where she received her cancer treatments years ago.
Netflix plans five episodes, along with livestreaming the launch on Sept. 15 on its YouTube channel. Assuming the launch lifts off on schedule, Sept. 6 will see two episodes drop, focused on meeting the crew. The launch preparation will come into focus in two episodes airing Sept. 13. The last episode, sometime in late September, will feature the journey home.
The documentary series will be co-produced by Time Studios, and is directed by Jason Hehir — creator of the Michael Jordan series “The Last Dance.”
While not hinted at in the trailer, Netflix also plans to release a “hybrid live-action animation special for kids and families” about the mission to air Sept. 14. It will discuss matters such as how rockets work, how astronauts sleep and eat in space and other mission basics, according to The Verge.
Netflix’s decision to focus on diversity in the Inspiration4 trailer comes in the wake of criticism about two other billionaire-funded space missions that ran in July. The crewed spaceflights were Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity (including founder Richard Branson) and Blue Origin’s New Shepard (including founder Jeff Bezos).
Online commentators questioned aspects of the Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin missions including whether the billionaires were in competition (both denied it), the worth of spaceflights for rich people and their invitees, and what the missions mean for the space tourism market, which so far has been open to a select few.
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.