Vol. 16, No. 26 – Sept 20 – Oct 3, 2023 – Movie Review

Streaming Spotlight by Cindy Summers
A Million Miles Away – Prime Video

4 out of 4 palm trees

A Million Miles Away” shares the true story of NASA flight engineer José Hernández (Michael Peña) on his quest from his childhood dream of being an astronaut to becoming the first migrant farm worker in space spending 13 days on the International Space Station. José‘s father shared with him at a young age that there were five key ingredients to achieving success in anything and José followed his father’s road map with unstoppable determination to eventually achieving what most would consider impossible.

According to José’s father, the first ingredient to success was to find your goal, and when José was seven years old he saw the Apollo 11 launch in 1969 on television and knew then that he wanted to be an astronaut. Around that same time, José‘s teacher Miss Young met with his parents expressing concern over their constant travel and his education knowing that he had some special gifts, even telling José he was a force of nature and to remember nothing will stop him. José‘s dad realized having his family work in the fields was not a good future, so they settled in Stockton, California where José grew up and graduated from the University of the Pacific.

The second Ingredient to success was to know how far you are from achieving your goal. In 1985 José got a job as a lab engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and began applying to the NASA program. He met his future wife Adela (Rosa Salazar) when buying a car, but she wanted to be a chef and supported José‘s goal to be an astronaut. José received a promotion at work and things were going well until Adela found a rejection letter, discovering he had applied to NASA six times without telling her. They agreed to work together to identify why he wasn’t getting in, identifying some key skills including working on building his body, learning Russian, as well as learning to fly and scuba dive.

José‘s father said the third ingredients to success was to draw a road map, which became easier now that he had identified what skills he needed to attain. He received a promotion and shortly after was assigned to go to Russia for six months where he learned Russian. He also went to flight school and got his pilot’s license as well as earning his diving credentials. After being denied 11 times, José went directly to NASA and found Commander Sturckow (Garret Dillahunt) to ask for a explanation about being rejected from the program. José shared all of his recent accomplishments and shortly after José received an acceptance letter from NASA.

The fourth ingredient for success according to José‘s father was if you don’t know how to learn how, so in 2003 José moved this family to new home in Selma just outside of the Johnson space center for NASA having been selected from tens of thousands for a rigorous training few pass. José rescued a teammate during a water training exercise which was recognized very highly by his by Struckow and also received much support from a female trainer named Kaipana Chawla (Sarayu Blue) who was a member of the next flight of the Columbia Space Shuttle which unfortunately blew up shortly after launch.

José was told ingredient number five was when you think you’ve made it you probably have to work harder. In 2008 José was chosen for the next shuttle launch as mission specialist number two on Space Shuttle Discovery piloted by Cmd Rick Struckow. Miss Young visited him before take off sharing José‘s drawing about his dream of becoming an astronaut she kept from when he was a child in her class. José’s shuttle mission STS-128 remained on board the International Space Station for 13 days, and José was the first migrant farm worker to have traveled into space.

Runtime: 2h 1m

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