Actor Dwayne Johnson, formerly known as "The Rock," is helping to spread the benefits of NASA in a new series of public service announcements (PSAs) timed with the release of Sony Pictures' animated feature film "Planet 51."
"Films are such a powerful way to reach out to new audiences and excite them about space exploration," NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said in a statement. "Dwayne will enlighten families about the importance of learning science and math and celebrating others' differences. He also informs the public about some NASA technologies which are used right here on Earth."
In the PSAs, Johnson touts NASA's role in education, recycling and the development of new technologies, commonly referred to as "spinoffs."
In the fourth public service announcement about diversity, Johnson underscores the importance of a global work force: "On this planet promoting diversity is very important. At NASA, astronauts from all nationalities and backgrounds work together aboard the International Space Station to help improve our lives here on Earth. I'm here to tell you that every barrier is meant to be broken, whether it's the sound barrier, the farthest layer of the Earth's atmosphere, the outer limits of our solar system, or the challenges we face here at home."
In the animated comedy "Planet 51," Johnson voices the American astronaut Charles "Chuck" Baker, whose suit is adorned with the NASA insignia courtesy of the space agency.
In the movie, Baker, who lands on Planet 51 thinking he's the first person to step foot on it, finds to his surprise that this planet is inhabited by little green people who are happily living in a white-picket-fence world reminiscent of 1950s America, and whose only fear is that it will be overrun by alien invaders.
NASA flew a DVD copy of the film aboard space shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station last August to celebrate "Planet 51," which opened in theaters on Friday.
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Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.