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KSAT´s ultimate guide to the best space movies

We asked our staff to tell us what their favorite space-movies are, and why. This is what we ended up with; our very own, very exclusive, but by no means exhaustive list of must – see space movies, handpicked by the SPACE-loving KSAT crew.

Alien-Ridley-Scott.jpeg.jpg1. Alien (1979)

"In space no one can hear you scream". Without a doubt the number one of KSAT team´s space-movie favourites. This classic science-fiction horror film from 1979, directed by Ridley Scott, follows the crew of the space tug Nostromo in a distant future. The crew is awakened as the ship receives a mysterious distress signal from an abandoned spaceship. They discover a strange colony of eggs, and when disturbed, one of their crewmembers gets attacked by a paracite – like organism. After deciphering the message it turns out it was not a distress signal, it was a warning…

"The epitome of space horror, and H.R Giger’s designs alone makes the movie worth it. Plus, Sigourney Weaver is bad-ass" says Ragnar Lillevoll, System Developer KSATlite

interstellar.jpg2. Interstellar (2014)

This mind-bending thriller from Christopher Nolan stars Matthew McConaughey as Cooper, an ex-science engineer and pilot, tied to his farming land with his daughter Murph and son Tom. Set in a dystopian future where humanity is struggling to survive, as dust storms are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable, the film follows a group of daring astronauts who travel through a wormhole near Saturn in search of a new inhabitable planet for humanity. As the gravity well of the black hole causes time to move more slowly for the astronauts than for the people left on Earth, the movie explores not only the limits of physics, but also of eternal bonds of love between a father and his daughter.

"Interstellar – about so much more than space" top pick of Øystein Thorvaldsen, Chief information security officer (CISO)

spaceodyssey.jpg3. Space odyssey 2001 (1968) 

Space Odyssey is the iconic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The film follows a voyage to Jupiter after the discovery of a featureless alien monolith affecting human evolution. Introducing the on board computer, HAL 9000, the film deals with themes of existentialism, human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Kubrick’s masterpiece was released in 1968 and is bursting with technology and design well ahead of their time and continues inspire more than a half-century after it was released.

Fun Fact: HAL’s function bears a striking resemblance to modern voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa. In homage to the film, Siri is actually programmed to respond “I'm sorry, I can’t do that,” when asked to “open the pod bay doors”.

Out of class and absolutely always number one on Igor Alonso Portillo´s list. Our Director of Sales and Business Development says "there´s no need for explaining why, it is a must see". 

Apollo-13.png4. Apollo 13 (1995)

This American space docudrama depicts astronauts Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise aboard Apollo 13 for America's third Moon landing mission. En route, an on-board explosion deprives their spacecraft of most of its oxygen supply and electric power, forcing NASA's flight controllers to abort the Moon landing, and turning the mission into a struggle to get the three men home safely. Directed by Ron Howard, starring Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon. “Houston, we have a problem”, (actually they said "we´ve had a problem"),  quickly became a popular, though erroneous quote that lives on to this day being used to indicate the emergence of an unforeseen problem. The gripping drama showed that, while Apollo 11 may have achieved the goal of landing humans on the moon, the rescue of Apollo 13 may have been, as Kranz says in the movie, NASA’s finest hour.

"My favourite space movie? That must be Apollo 13, definitely". Hans-Christian Grunnvåg, Technical Project Manger, Site & Infrastructure.

contact poster wide.jpg5. Contact (1997)

Contact is an American science fiction drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis. It is a film adaptation of Carl Sagan's 1985 novel the same name. Jodie Foster portrays the film's protagonist, Dr. Eleanor "Ellie" Arroway, a SETI scientist at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Guided into science and communication by her now-deceased father, she listens to radio emissions from space, and finds conclusive radio proof of extraterrestrial intelligence, sending plans for a mysterious machine.

 My favorite space movie is Contact. I saw it for the first time when I was 13, at a summer program for learning Physics. And I remember feeling completely mesmerized by the giant antennas. On a later trip to Puerto Rico, I made my parents schedule in a four hour detour to head over to the western part of the island, simply so that we could visit those giant antennas at Arecibo. I then bought an Arecibo Observatory embroidered polo in every color a the gift shop. All this to say, I think I was destined from a young age to work with ground stations". Katherine Monson, Head of KSAT USA.

The-Martian.jpg6. The Martian (2015)

The film depicts an astronaut's (Matt Damon) lone struggle to survive on Mars after being left behind and the efforts to rescue him and bring him home to Earth. During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew.  With very limited supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to survive, and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring "the Martian" home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney's safe return.

"A great movie about survival and ingenuity" says Øystein Brandt, System developer.

arrival heptapod.jpg7. Arrival (2016)

Arrival is an American science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve  starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. The film follows a linguist enlisted by the United States Army to discover how to communicate with extraterrestrial aliens, ‘heptapods’, that has arrived on Earth. Understanding the full message requires global collaboration.

It's a smart, sophisticated sci-fi that asks BIG questions, and does a pretty good job of answering them. One of Software Engineer Eirik Mikkelsen´s absolute favourites.

moon-2009-poster.jpg8. Moon (2009)

With only three weeks left in his three-year contract, Astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is getting anxious to finally return to Earth. He is the only occupant of a manufacturing facility on the far side of the Moon, harvesting Helium-3, a precious energy source. Direct communication with Earth not longer possible, and his only assistant a computer named GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey), the three years in isolation begins to take an alarming toll on his mind. An accident sets into motion a series of events which reveals the terrible truth behind his mission. Duncan Jones, director has said: "The moon, we have been there. It is something so close and so plausible and yet at the same time, we really don't know that much about it”.

This is a film about what it means, and takes, to be human, and it is Gunnar Rasmussen, Senior System Developer´s favourite. 

fifth.jpg9. Fifth Element (1997)

The Fifth Element is a 1997 English-language French science fiction action film directed and co-written by Luc Besson. In a colourful future, Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), a former special forces commando, now a mid-twenty-third-century New York City cab driver, unwittingly becomes the central figure in an aeons-old war as Leeloo (Milla Jovovich), the supreme being, crash-lands in his taxi.  In search of a mysterious weapon, the only thing that can save humanity from pure evil, Korben helps Leeloo in her quest to retrieve four missing stones, critical to saving the planet. But, they are not the only ones after the stones. The greedy and cruel weapons dealer Zorg (Gary Oldman) is also after the stones, with the help of a team of mercenary Mangalores. Now, in the ultimate battle between good and evil, Leeloo seems to hold the key to Earth's salvation; however, is the world worth saving?

Fifth element- for sure! Who can forget Milla Jovovich in her breakthrough role as Leeloo, the vulnerable, but supreme being, sent to Earth to save mankind? Also, the costumes in this movie are fun and fantastic. With over 1000 outfits, its a proper Jean Paul Gaultier fashion show.  Cute and quirky, good vs evil where (spoiler) love conquers all -it just never gets old”. Recommended by Nina Soleng, Director Communications and Public Affairs.

the-right-stuff.jpg10. The Right Stuff (1983)

Adapted from Tom Wolfe's best-selling 1979 book of the same name, this is story of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, the seven military pilots who were selected to be the astronauts for Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight by the United States. The film relates the dangers and frustrations facing the astronauts and goes behind the unblemished public image, to find imperfect human beings who, knowing the risks they were taking as they rode their primitive capsules into space, eagerly took those risks. The film was awarded four Academy Awards and in 2013 the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"

"The Right Stuff is a must-see for everyone with a bit more than an average interest in aerospace" says Zoe Bazilchuk, Engineer KSAT Lite.

the-dish.jfif.jpg11. The Dish (2000)

In the days before the July 1969 space mission that marked humanity's first steps on the Moon, NASA was working with a group of Australian technicians who had agreed to engineer a space-to-Earth interface to carry the video and telemetry signals from the Lunar Lander on the Moon and relay them to a global audience, estimated then at some 600 million people. The antenna had to be large, as the signals expected from the spacecraft were very weak and easily lost. Based on a true story, "The Dish" takes a look at the differing cultural attitudes between Australia and the U.S. while revisiting one of the greatest events in history. It also depicts, quite realistically, the activities in a control room of a radio telescope doing a job it was not originally expected to do.

“The Dish” tells the story about a Ground Station situated in the middle of a sheep farm in Australia which suddenly becomes center of attention when chosen to broadcast from the lunar landing. My favourite and a particularly good film for us at KSAT as it shows a complex technical task AND it features big antennas" says Kjetil Slettnes, System Engineer at Svalbard Ground Station.

armageddon 2.jpg12. Armageddon (1998)

After discovering that an asteroid the size of Texas is going to impact Earth in less than a month, NASA recruits a misfit team of deep-core drillers to save the planet. The best deep core driller in the world, Harry Stamper, is to train astronauts who will go to the asteroid, drill into the center and detonate a nuclear warhead. Realizing he can't train them how to drill in just ten days, Harry brings in his own team of roughnecks to learn to become astronauts and do the job themselves...

"Armageddon is my favourite by far… - its brilliant…its full of adventure…excitement…space…NASA…asteroids and Ben Affleck is in its got great music…what more do you want???" Charlotte Bishop, Project Manager and image analyst.

And the list goes on;

Sales Director Børre Pedersen´s favourite is without a doubt E.T. The classic movie from 1982, directed by Steven Spielberg, about the Alien left behind on Earth that just wants to phone home, is very sweet and touching. The story greatly helped across by the fantastic child actors, among them a very young Drew Barrymore.

Jørgen Pettersen, System Engineer, KSAT Lite recommends Event Horizon, simply because "its the scariest space movie ever made".

Systems Architect John Heskett´s favourite is Rocky Horror Picture Show. He admits it’s a bit of a stretch since it takes place on Earth, but it does include Aliens and a space ship at the end, and who doesn’t love sweet transvestites from the transsexual planet Transylvania? 

And HR Manager Therese Kristiansen recommends seeing all the Marvel movies- in chronological viewing order, to truly get to know the characters.

Then of course there´s Starwars and Star Trek, Guardians of the Galaxy, Wall-E, Gravity, Apollo 11, Hidden Figures, Men in Black, Spaceballs, Prometheus, Ad Astra, Gattaca and Europa Report. Kurt Ringstrand, our logistics officer tells us there´s even a hidden gem; a forgotten Norwegian Sci Fi film from 1978 called "Blindpassasjer". 

We´ll let Lasse Krøger Vanebo, TNOC Operations Engineer, have the last word for now: "Ok , but most of these are obvious and often mentioned, so my top pick is Mars Attacks, as we all could need a good laugh this Easter!"

Good luck! As you boldly go where the KSAT crew has gone before.

MARSATTACKS.jpg"We come in peace..."