Ad Astra: Real-life Engineers Influencing Hollywood
Ad Astra, meaning “to the stars,” is a mission Lockheed Martin has been achieving for over 50 years. Our engineers’ dreams become real space exploration vehicles that are launched to the most obscure locations in the solar system. Our spacecraft, satellites, scientific instruments and hardware have explored all the planets, as well as asteroids, comets and the Moon.
When creating a film about space, Ad Astra Director James Gray immediately thought of Lockheed Martin as the company connecting the science fiction in movies to the realities of space exploration. We partnered with the film’s creative team to share what it’s really like to live and work in deep space.
Getting Astronauts to Space and the Making of Ad Astra
Several of the spacecraft we’ve designed and built are exploring today. InSight is on Mars discovering what materials and mysteries lie beneath the Martian surface. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey are looking for water and relaying data from the Red Planet back to Earth. Deep beyond the asteroid belt, Juno is uncovering details of Jupiter’s magnetic field and atmosphere, while OSIRIS-REx is on the verge of collecting an asteroid sample. Our telescopes, Hubble and Spitzer, have discovered the history of the universe and continue paving the way for future missions.
Our plans to get astronauts to the moon and Mars rely on our heritage robotic missions to apply past knowledge in a new way, furthering human exploration. Using the data we’ve collected over the past 50 years, we are working alongside NASA to build Orion — the only human rated capsule designed to take astronauts to the moon and eventually Mars.
Our expertise in space exploration runs deep, and we hope the insight we shared with Ad Astra’s production team will help inspire the next generation of explorers.
Behind the Scenes
Guy Chriqui is a senior research manager at Lockheed Martin. We asked him what it’s like to be a science consultant on a feature film (spoiler alert - Guy has consulted on two!) and if humanity will ever make it to Mars.
First off, what got you interested in engineering?
CHRIQUI: Originally, I was always into science fiction and stuff. In high school, I joined a competitive robotics team. Essentially, I realized it was a sport that I could easily go pro at, and it was a reasonable thing to continue and make a profession out of. I just kind of kept with it.
I didn't think I was going to be an engineer before that, and then I got into robots and got super stoked on robots, and went to engineering school for undergrad... Here I am, 15 years later.
I saw that you mentor a lot of students in FIRST Robotics. What have you learned from the students you mentor?
CHRIQUI: Patience is the number one thing I’ve learned. But, more than that, it’s the same program I was in, and it’s something that I got a lot out of and I absolutely believe in giving back to the things that made you who you are. As an engineer, you have your specialties, but the real thing that you learn is how to systematically solve problems. You're always adding to your toolbox. I really drive that home with the students.
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