"Who better to leave this planet and dive into the unknown than a migrant farm worker?"
Michael Peña, portraying real-life NASA astronaut José Hernández, asks and answers that question in the new movie "A Million Miles Away." Amazon released the first trailer for the film on Tuesday (Aug. 15), a month ahead of its debut on its Prime Video streaming service.
"OK, it is official! The movie is coming out!" (the real-life) Hernández posted on X (formerly Twitter), reacting to the trailer's release. "I hope my story inspires many people to follow their dreams."
- Want to try Amazon Prime? Sign up for a free 30-day trial here.
- Subscribe to Amazon Prime for $12.99 a month
Directed and co-written by acclaimed Mexican filmmaker Alejandra Márquez Abella, "A Million Miles Away" follows Hernández' journey from working the fields with his family to his pursuit of flying into space.
"This may not be your future, but it will always be your past," a young Hernández is told of his farm work in a scene from the trailer.
Even after landing positions as an engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Johnson Space Center in Houston, Hernández's path to becoming a NASA astronaut was not without challenges.
"Over the last 10 years, I have applied to the space program 12 times and I've been on the verge of giving up after each and every rejection," says Peña in the trailer, citing Hernández' actual number of times applying for the astronaut corps. "But you know what, sir? Here I am. So you can turn me down again, but rest assured I will be standing here again in a year."
Hernandez was ultimately accepted with NASA's 19th group of astronauts, "The Peacocks," in 2004. As the film depicts, he accomplished his dream becoming an STS-128 mission specialist on the space shuttle Discovery in August 2009. The trailer shows actors portraying Hernández' crewmates, including Isabel Aerenlund as fellow mission specialist Nicole Stott and Garret Dillahunt as commander Rick "CJ" Sturckow.
The two-and-a-half-minute trailer shows that "A Million Miles Away" stays fairly close to the real Hernández' life events, including his earliest memory of space exploration, watching the 1972 launch of the Apollo 17 moon landing mission on TV; learning to fly and scuba dive to improve his chances of being selected as an astronaut; and the literal steps he took wearing a bright orange advance crew escape suit (ACES) on his way to spending nearly 14 days in space on a mission to the International Space Station.
Peña previously played a fictional NASA astronaut in the 2015 film "The Martian" and was in Roland Emmerich's sci-fi disaster movie "Moonfall" in 2022. "A Million Miles Away" also stars Rosa Salazar, Sarayu Blue, Veronica Falcon, Julio Cesar Cadillo and Bobby Soto.
Get the Space.com Newsletter
Breaking space news, the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more!
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.