By Steve Hammons
The movie project that has offered the lead role of stranded astronaut to Natalie Portman has the potential to delve into many interesting areas that are both familiar and on the leading edge of understanding about human consciousness and space.
Space psychology, human consciousness, modern "weird physics," discoveries about space and time, as well as unconventional space phenomena such as UFOs and extraterrestrial beings are just a few of the fascinating and important areas that Alfonso Cuaron's planned "Gravity" film could explore.
According to published media reports, the story is a drama about a female astronaut whose return to Earth and her daughter are in jeopardy after her spacecraft is hit by debris and other crew members are killed.
Portman has not yet accepted the role, but her recent intense and rigorous physical training for "Black Swan" and her roles in the "Star Wars" movies could both be elements, among others, that click for her and the "Gravity" movie.
The Warner Bros. project is budgeted at $80 million, according to reports. Robert Downey Jr. is onboard and the shooting is planned for the end of January 2011.
EVOLVING SPACE TRAVEL
The space aspects of the story, from what is known about it now, are particularly relevant in our current era of positioning America's space efforts amid the emergence of private, commercial space projects that may take many more people into Earth orbit and beyond.
The plot of the spacecraft being hit by debris is practically ripped from the headlines.
In February 2009, an American and a Russian satellite collided at approximately 22,000 mph 491 miles above Earth and left a huge debris field in orbit, adding to thousands of pieces of space junk already around our planet. The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on ways to try to clean up this debris.
In March 2009, International Space Station (ISS) crew members had to hunker down in the ISS escape capsule as a precaution against space junk hitting the ISS. Such a collision could be catastrophic for a spacecraft or space station.
And this is why the main female character of "Gravity" finds herself isolated far from home and her daughter.
Back in the real world, one of the emerging commercial space industry's innovative companies, Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace, says that the inflatable, flexible, multi-layered Vectran outer shell of their space modules are designed to better withstand space debris hits than conventional spacecraft. Their design using Vectran, which is twice as strong as Kevlar, has been tested and withstood tremendous impacts with little damage.
Bigelow Aerospace and other companies are currently on track to take astronauts, scientists and others into Earth orbit within a few short years. The Boeing CST-100 crew capsule is planned to provide transport to and from Bigelow modular space stations in orbit.
So, the planned "Gravity" movie is more realistic than we may think. The scenarios of astronauts facing space debris that cause severe damage to their spacecraft or space stations reflect real threats, and real astronauts could find themselves in the same predicament as the lead female character.
MYSTERIES OF OUTER AND INNER SPACE
While the nuts and bolts of space travel in the "Gravity" film and real life are interesting, what about the more exotic, mind-expanding and sometimes amazing space and science topics that are somewhat difficult to comprehend and accept?
Increasing public awareness about emerging discoveries in human consciousness, scientific anomalies related to space-time, theories of multiple dimensions, UFOs and preparedness for possible extraterrestrial visitation are also subjects that interest millions of people around the world.
The research and operational activities of the U.S. government's Project STAR GATE into special kinds of human perception have clearly demonstrated that humans have an amazing sixth sense. It may show itself a little or a lot in various people. But, we now know that human consciousness can reach out in space and time with a kind of awareness that can be truly surprising.
As U.S. military and intelligence personnel were brought up to speed on this research, undoubtedly astronauts and others also found themselves in the loop about the newly-rediscovered abilities of deep human mind.
Other research in quantum physics similarly has found that space and time, as we understand them, do not work the way we have previously thought. People, places, circumstances and events can be connected in ways that are not obvious and that seem illogical. Coincidences and developments may not be random at all, but might have hidden meaning.
We can hardly talk about space and space travel without considering the increasing legitimate research and evidence that there is a reasonable likelihood that humans are being visited by some kind of beings from elsewhere.
Are they other beings from another planet, or from another dimension? Are they angels or some kind of life forms that we do not understand? Are all UFOs solid craft or are some of them part of an energy that is beyond our comprehension?
These questions are no longer just the stuff of science fiction. They are fact-based possibilities, probabilities or realities.
And several astronauts and cosmonauts have gone on the record with specifics about close encounters with what appeared to be non-human craft or some kind of UFO that could not easily be explained.
The "Gravity" movie seems to have the potential to examine many of these important subjects: the value of our home on planet Earth, our ventures into space, the love between a mother and daughter, a human being responding to a uniquely acute situation, and the many unknowns and mysteries about our world, the Universe and ourselves.