NASA assets have a far-reaching audience including those beyond scientists and engineers. Visual resources including imagery and other video footage, filming at NASA centers across the country, and providing technical expertise are just some of the ways the agency partners with the film and television industry. One of the latest examples hitting the big screen is NASA’s work Pixar on Lightyear, the new animated movie starring (the voices of) Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, and Peter Sohn.
According to Pixar, Lightyear is the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear, a Space Ranger on an intergalactic adventure with a group of recruits and his robot companion Sox.
“Animators and artists on Lightyear used more than 3,000 images and footage assets to help create the cinematic universe seen throughout the film,” said Bert Ulrich, NASA’s Hollywood liaison at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “They also received an up close and personal view of space through the eyes of a NASA astronaut who served as a technical consultant on the film.”
Like past film collaborations, Lightyear will be ‘beamed up’ to the International Space Station where crew members living and working in space will have a chance to watch it during their free time. NASA also will facilitate a space-to-ground conversation between the crew and stars, participate in red carpet activities, and more.
NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn consulted on production and will participate in outreach activities. Marshburn recently returned to Earth after spending 175 aboard the space station as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission. He and his crewmates conducted a variety of science experiments aboard the orbiting laboratory that will help inform future exploration farther into the solar system.
“Collaboration on films like this one helps NASA inspire the Artemis Generation as we prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars,” said Marshburn. “In doing outreach related to the science that inspired scenes in the film, this provides a springboard to share NASA content with a diverse audience of all ages.”
NASA also is engaging in multiple opportunities with the film’s diverse stars, further amplifying another key goal for the Biden-Harris Administration and NASA: advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. In April, the agency released its Equity Action Plan to help make space more accessible to all.
“NASA regularly collaborates on documentaries and films once funding is in place and we determine there’s a mutual benefit to partnering on various storylines,” Ulrich added. “Our assets are invaluable for filmmakers globally.”