The new documentary ‘Spacedrop’ takes viewers inside a simulated space quarantine – ProWellTech
“The first Asian Jew in a fake space” – so Josh Burstein introduced himself to me when we got on the phone earlier this week.
The fake space in question is the Hawaiian space exploration analogy and simulation (HI-SEAS), in which NASA periodically isolated teams of astronauts to study how they respond to the demands of space exploration – and where Burstein was from room last year. He is now publishing a special 37-minute documentary about that experience, called “Spacedrop”.
The special lives up to its slogan: “How to space in quarantine”. For two weeks, Burstein and an international team of scientists led by Michaela Musilova treated a habitat on the slopes of the Mauna Loa as if it were a true habitat on the Moon or Mars – spending most of their time indoors and leaving only for explore the landscape beyond its walls after wearing a respirator that approaches a real spacesuit.
And yes, the film spends a few minutes on the parallels between a simulated space quarantine and our current world imposed by the coronavirus at home.
Burstein acknowledged that the situations are very different: first, HI-SEAS was a much shorter quarantine. And while he spent time both in the special and in our interview talking about the extraordinary feeling of going out after the end of the quarantine and “feeling the rays of a bicycle, seeing the green color, everything is back in Technicolor”, it seems unlikely that the rest of us will get an equally normal and satisfying return to normal.
“We won’t get out of the quarantine race,” he said. “It will be more of a slow burning.”
However, he believes there are lessons that people can learn from his experience, such as the importance of “successfully managing expectations”. And he hopes “Spacedrop” will help illustrate the importance of space exploration, even in a time of global crisis, and as we head towards what is probably a global recession.
After all, he noted that space education and research is not just about “running into Boba Fett”, it also has real benefits for science and technology here on Earth. And one of the great themes of the documentary is international cooperation.
“The only thing Democrats and Republicans agree on is that the space is fantastic,” said Burstein, adding that the International Space Station is the only place “where Americans and Russians are in constant collaboration and have a strong relationship.” .
And even if it’s a documentary (a word that Burstein avoided in our interview), it’s far from serious or boring. Instead, there are many jokes about cabin fever, body odor and the disappointing state of the space kitchen.
After all, Burstein – a non-scientist, non-astronaut whose curriculum includes stints with Obama’s campaign and as Charlie Sheen’s social media manager – is admirably realistic about his role in the mission. He cheerfully described himself as a “red shirt”, and the special makes sure to point out that his first job in a spacesuit was to take out the trash.
How was Burstein invited to participate? He told me that he called NASA cold and convinced them to let him participate and film the experience. After all, communication and education are an important part of space exploration.
As for the possibility of considering a trip to the real Moon or to Mars, he said that he is willing – but perhaps not in those first missions: “I would absolutely like to take a pleasure trip to the Moon and eat at Sbarro in the lunar base food court. “
“Spacedrop” will arrive soon on Amazon Prime Video, and in the meantime it will be live on Vimeo.