Journey to Space

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Journey to Space Movie Poster Image
Stunning visuals in short docu about modern space program.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 45 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Celebrates international efforts to explore deep space, focusing on NASA. Details the Space Shuttle program, which ended in 2011, then moves forward to introduce new machines and concepts that will carry out missions to Mars and beyond.

Positive Messages

Promotes exploration of deep space and the United States space program, NASA. Lauds the sense of adventure, intelligence, and courage of astronauts who participate in the program.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Real-life heroes are dedicated to their missions and the importance of their work and are willing to sacrifice years of their lives to accomplish their goals. Gives equal time to the role of women in the 21st-century program, who prove to be as competent, driven, and smart as the men with whom they work. Some ethnic diversity.

Violence & Scariness

A mention of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Sexy Stuff

One use of "damn."


With funding from Boeing and Toyota, the documentary serves to promote and commend the American space program in its efforts to explore deep space.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Journey to Space is a 45-minute documentary, funded by Boeing and Toyota, that was originally released on IMAX screens. The mission of this film is to update audiences, and young people in particular, on the status of the U.S. Space Program in 2015 and to inspire interest in and excitement about further exploration. Awe-inspiring visuals of rocketry, astronauts (male and female) working in zero gravity, and the vast expanse of our planet's exploration thus far are combined with discussion and animated projections of what is still to be accomplished. The film covers NASA's Space Shuttle Project, which ended in 2011, and moves forward to the present where plans for missions to Mars and the launching of the SLS (Space Launch System) are currently underway. A mention of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster is the only possibly disturbing moment. There is one "damn." Technical information is delivered in an accessible manner so that middle graders and up should be able to grasp the material. Fine for families to enjoy together.

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What's the story?

Patrick Stewart's resonant voice narrates JOURNEY TO SPACE, which details the accomplishments of NASA's Space Shuttle Project (which ended in 2011), the International Space Station (in full operational mode with 15 countries working together), and the aspirations of men and women currently involved in new explorations of Mars and beyond. Both male and female astronauts enthusiastically describe their tasks and their experiences. The film introduces three specific missions and the machines that will enable them. Orion is a spacecraft designed to take humans into deep space and bring them back again. It's projected that a trip to Mars on Orion will take two and a half years. Olympus is an inflatable transport carrier that will house astronauts for long periods of time. The Space Launch System is a giant rocket that will transport both Orion and Olympus to deep space. Lofty goals and a wondrous vision of an enhanced future guide the movie and the program itself. 

Is it any good?

What was the stuff of science fiction only decades ago, and is now in the realm of possibility, is enthusiastically shared by astronauts and scientists in this short, visually inspiring film. In the 21st century, controversy about funding the U.S. Space Program in light of pressing national and international needs has forced the program into the background. This film is an effort to renew interest in and excitement about the possibilities of space exploration, especially for kids. Given the well-established need for more women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), it's significant that female astronauts Lindsay Aitchison and Serena Aunon are featured here. Due to the preponderance of technological information delivered, the film is most accessible for middle grades and up.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about different aims of documentary films: to entertain, to inform, and/or to persuade. How does this film capture each of the three intentions? Which category(s) does it fit best?

  • Have you ever thought about how space exploration might affect our planet's future? List some possible positive outcomes that may result.

  • How did movies such as the Star Wars and Star Trek adventures, imagined by creators who were not professional scientists or engineers, anticipate what has become real in Journey to Space? What does that tell you about the human capacity to imagine?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love outer space

Themes & Topics

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