St. Louis has played a key role in space travel. In 1959, NASA selected St. Louis company McDonnell Aircraft to build America’s first human-controlled spacecraft for Project Mercury. McDonnell Aircraft later became McDonnell Douglas, and merged with Boeing in 1997.
Boeing is one of the corporate sponsors of the Omnimax film, "Journey to Space," directed by Mark Krenzien.
“It’s a special place here in St. Louis, to have a film like this in a town so linked to aerospace and aviation,” Krenzien told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh.
Krenzien said he wanted to make "Journey to Space" because of how little the American public seems to be aware of NASA's current activities.
“When the space shuttle was retired in 2011, I think most Americans sort of thought the program went on hold, just sort of bobbing along, and so that really motivated me to tell the story of what we are doing today. And what struck me most of all was that we are much closer to putting humans in deep space than most people realize,” Krenzien said.
"Journey to Space" is a giant-screen film narrated by Patrick Stewart that celebrates how much NASA has accomplished with the shuttle program. It also focuses on what's being done now to shape the near future of space travel.
“I wanted to give the audience a look at how we got where we are today, that is, this brilliant tool called the shuttle that inspired all of us and it made possible this International Space Station. And now that space station is the laboratory that’s teaching us how we can survive in deep space.”
So, what have we learned from the shuttle program and the space station? Krenzien said the biggest things we’ve learned are the impacts that zero gravity has on human health, primarily the loss of muscle and bone mass, solar and cosmic radiation, and something that hasn’t been talked about much, degradation of vision.
Some argue that the benefits of space travel don’t outweigh the costs, and Krenzien said that perhaps it’s true that the list of human benefits from space exploration may not be as long and robust as NASA would wish. But he offered a bigger reason for exploration.
“The value of going to space, be it near or deep, is really much more at the core of what it is we as human beings do, what is innately in us, that need to discover, that need to see what’s over the horizon, it colors every part of human life.”
Krenzien has a diverse film and television career. The documentary, "Making Michael Jackson’s Thriller," was one of his earliest credits as a cinematographer. He has written, produced and directed documentaries for ABC, HBO, Showtime and Discovery, and written a number of screenplays for major studios such as Universal and Paramount. More recently, he wrote, produced, and/or directed 12 large-format IMAX films including, "Journey to Space."
"Journey to Space" is now playing at the Saint Louis Science Center's Omnimax Theater and will run until September 30.
St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.