Space’ highlights the questions and eccentricity behind billionaire visions of leaving Earth


An artist’s conception shows a spaceship on a 5,000 year journey. (Jörgen Engdahl / Courtesy of Discovery+)

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wants millions of people to live and work in space – that’s why he founded his Space company Blue Origin more than two decades ago.

But what if living in space turns out to be like holed up in an Amazon warehouse?

“The reality of going to another planet in our current environment, I think…the best analogy is an Amazon fulfillment center,” Taylor Genoveseanthropologist at Arizona State University, says in “Last Exit: Space” a new documentary on space colonization narrated by the famous filmmaker Werner Herzog.

“You won’t be able to really see where you are,” says Genovese. “You’re going to be inside a factory, and you’re not going to experience what you think you’re going to experience – which is the kind of fear of being on another planet and living off the Earth No, you will be working inside a cubicle.

It’s a perspective you won’t often hear in the wave of space documentaries carried by streaming video media, including “Countdown” and “Back to Space” on Netflix, and “Secrets of the Universe” on Curiosity Stream.

But Rudolph Herzog – Werner’s son and the director of “Last Exit: Space”, is now playing on Discovery+ – wasn’t interested in making a conventional documentary about the final frontier.

“I just like edgy, quirky stories,” the young Herzog, who built its own portfolio of film projectsexplains in the last episode of the Sci-fi podcast. “I think everyone knows Elon Musk and everyone knows what Jeff Bezos does. … I just wanted to show how far people are going to go to live out that dream of going into space.

Herzog and his father have also gone to incredible lengths: “Last Exit: Space” takes viewers to Denmark to meet rocket enthusiasts from Copenhagen Suborbitals; in the Negev desert in Israel to visit a simulated martian base; at Mauna Kea in Hawaii for reflections on the balance between earthly and otherworldly concerns; and Brazil for an overview of the religious UFO movement known as valley of dawn.

There are also interviews with a “space sexologist” and with a geneticist who thinks about ways to grow radiation-hardened skin for spaceflight, maybe even containing chlorophyll for photosynthesis.

“It’s fascinating to me,” Rudolph Herzog said. “I think it’s more fascinating than what I’ve seen in the media before.”

To dig deeper into the challenges of long-duration spaceflight, the Herzogs also spoke with retired British-American astronaut Mike Foale, who was on Russia’s Mir space station when she suffered a fatal collision with a cargo spacecraft in 1997; and with Judith Lapierre, who was sexually harassed and witnessed bloody fights in 1999-2000 during a 110-day space mission simulation in Russia.

Rudolph and Werner Herzog teamed up to

Rudolph and Werner Herzog have teamed up for “Last Exit: Space.” (Photo by Lena Herzog)

Rudolph Herzog said such stories illustrate how daunting it can be to send colonists on a one-way trip to Mars – let alone a one-way trip to the nearest star that could take thousands of years. .

“Would we go crazy on the trip?” He asked. “I mean, even if we upgraded our bodies in some way, and had some kind of crazy radiation shield, and we had a way to grow food, wouldn’t our minds be the obstacle to the space travel?”

Although the film was made long before the crisis in Ukraine and its fallout for the Russian space programHerzog said the current state of international relations suggests we still have work to do on our own planet before we reach for the stars.

“It won’t work if it’s not a collaboration of all of humanity,” he said. “People have to realize that we’re on a spaceship… It’s full of cool features, actually, but that’s what it is. So we shouldn’t play with it too much, because it’s is all we have, and probably all we will ever have.

In the documentary, Werner Herzog says the space efforts funded by Blue Origin’s Bezos and SpaceX’s Musk stem from “testosterone-fueled competition.”

“Some of these projects are a bit misguided,” Rudolph Herzog told me. “Of course, we don’t have a say because it’s kind of their money. But I would feel happier if it was used only to take care of our own planet.

He acknowledged that Musk was putting a lot of effort into solar power and electric vehicles as CEO of You’re here. And to be fair, it’s also worth noting that Bezos is currently spend more money on environmental causes than on spatial planes.

Nevertheless, Herzog argues that humanity is not yet ready to head for the stars.

“I think we need to clean up our act on Earth first before we venture to Mars or anywhere beyond,” he said.

“Last Exit: Space” airs exclusively on Discovery+. Check out previous episodes of Fiction Science Podcast on Cosmic Logand stay tuned for future episodes via Anchor, Apple, google, Covered, Spotify, Breaker, Pocket casts, public radio and Raison. If you like Fiction Science, please rate the podcast and subscribe for future episodes.

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