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The best space movies and TV shows
Looking for a space movie or TV show that’s a bit more realistic? Below, we look at the best space movies and TV series that you can watch via streaming services like Disney Plus, HBO Max, and others. These movies and series depict realistic space flight with past, present, and future technology.
Best space movies and TV shows
Editor’s note: We’ll regularly update this list of the best space movies and space TV shows as new ones are released.
2001: A Space Odyssey
While we are over two decades past the date of this movie, you should try to think of it as an alternate timeline when we didn’t stop going to the moon after Apollo 17. Director Stanley Kubrick gave audiences a look into that possible future, where you could take regular trips to a massive space station, and later to the moon. However, it’s the final sequence that most people remember. You can check out the movie, and its sequel 2010, on HBO Max.
The Right Stuff (Movie)
The Right Stuff movie was based on Thomas Wolfe’s non-fiction book on the early days of the US space program. This excellent film concentrates its narrative on the test pilots of the late 1940s and early 1950s, many of whom went to NASA as the first Mercury astronauts. Look for an excellent Sam Shepard playing test pilot Chuck Yeager, and Dennis Quaid and Ed Harris as astronauts Gordon Cooper and John Glenn, respectively. You can watch this excellent space movie free on the Roku Channel.
The Right Stuff (TV Series)
Disney Plus, in collaboration with National Geographic, adapted The Right Stuff into a TV series. This docudrama focuses on the original Mercury Seven astronauts (no Chuck Yeager here) and concludes with the first manned US space flight. While it only lasted one season, it’s still worth watching.
Sandra Bullock is alone in orbit in this modern-day space movie. Her shuttle gets hit by some orbiting space debris caused by a Russian rocket, and she’s lost her partner (George Clooney). Can she survive long enough to get back to Earth?
If you want the real, unfiltered story behind the moon landing 50 years ago, check out this recently released documentary available to stream on Hulu. When we say “unfiltered,” we mean it; this film only uses footage, taken from over 11,000 hours of film and video, that was made as part of the Apollo 11 mission, including some 70mm film previously not seen by the public.
There’s no narration, interviews, or special effects to recreate any scenes. It’s about as close as you can get to being a part of the original flight. That makes it one of the best, if not the best, realistic space movies.
From The Earth to the Moon
After starring in Apollo 13, Tom Hanks extended his time in space with this 1998 HBO mini-series. This 12-episode series chronicles the history of US space exploration, from the founding of NASA to the first Apollo missions, all the way to the end with the last manned lunar landing with Apollo 17.
Hanks directed the first episode of this series, and wrote or co-wrote several others. Many well-known actors play roles in this mini-series, including Tony Goldwyn, Bryan Cranston, Cary Elwes, Gary Cole, Sally Field, and many more. It’s perhaps the best TV series to depict the actual events of the Apollo space program. It’s available to stream with an HBO Max subscription.
For All Mankind
Apple TV Plus is the home for this excellent alternate history, exploring what might have happened if the Soviet Union had landed on the moon first instead of the United States. It also shows how the US and the USSR might have continued to visit the moon, rather than end their exploration in the early 1970s.
Apollo: Missions to the Moon
National Geographic’s Apollo: Missions to the Moon is dedicated to the Apollo program’s 12 years and 12 missions. The documentary relies exclusively on archival footage of the astronauts and crews who put men on the moon. Apollo: Missions to the Moon covers the entire decades-long program, not just the days of the Apollo 11 mission. It’s a chance to relive the space race through the cameras of news teams that were there.
Here are a few more space TV shows and space movies that didn’t make our final list
- Stargate SG-1: Netflix has this fun action series, which grounds the high-end alien tech with some Earthbound humor and settings.
- Space Force: This comedy series is set mainly on Earth, but occasionally goes into space and even the Moon.
- Stowaway: This movie shows how a trip to Mars is made more complicated by an unexpected passenger.
- Space 1999: This show, inspired greatly by 2001, does have the silly premise of the moon being blasted out of Earth’s orbit.
- Halo: The newly launched space-based TV show, based on the popular video game, has some realism in terms of its space travel.
These are the best space movies and space TV shows, in our opinion, although there are plenty of other great ones on offer. We’ll update this post with new ones once they are released.