The best space documentaries to watch in 2021

The best space documentaries to watch in 2021: image shows view of Earth from Space
(Image credit: Getty)

Are you the kind of person who has always dreamed of going to space? Or maybe you just want to learn more about the wonders of the universe? Either way, we have a selection of interstellar space documentaries just for you. 

Watching sci-fi movies and TV shows based in and around space can be fun, but what if you crave something more realistic? Something that educates as well as entertains? Enter space documentaries. 

Space documentaries are movies or miniseries based on true stories and discoveries made in space. Sometimes these films examine the deepest mysteries of the cosmos revealed through science, while others focus on famous missions to space, like the Apollo missions.

Whatever your interests are - black holes, mars missions, moon landings, planetary orbits, the search for extraterrestrial life - there’s a documentary for you. But with so many options available, you may wonder where to start. 

Worry not, as we’ve compiled a list of the 8 best space documentaries you can enjoy watching in 2021.

Apollo 11

The best space documentaries to watch in 2021: image shows poster of Apollo 11 moon mission

(Image credit: Neon/CNN Films)

If you’re a fan of watching archival footage of man's journey into space, then Apollo 11 is a great place to start. This award-winning documentary features original recordings and photographs of the astronauts and the NASA team behind the Apollo mission. 

There’s no narrator, no interviews, no external commentary - you get to hear the story straight from Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and the dozens of experts who made the mission possible. 

Journey to the Edge of the Universe

The best space documentaries to watch in 2021: image shows photo of space

(Image credit: National Geographic)

Journey to the Edge of the Universe is a classic Nat Geo documentary narrated by Alec Baldwin (for the US Version) and Sean Pertwee (for the British version). You can enjoy a simulated journey into the cosmos created by building on images taken from the Hubble telescope. It offers a vivid, breath-taking glimpse of what the universe out there looks like.

Black Holes: The Edge Of All We Know

The best space documentaries to watch in 2021: image shows black hole

(Image credit: Netflix)

Looking to understand the mysteries of black holes? Watch this latest documentary, released just last year. Scientists saw the first-ever picture of a black hole in 2019, and it woke a voracious curiosity amongst the public curious to finally know what black holes looks like, how the images were captured, and what it means for our advancement in space exploration. 

To satiate that curiosity, this documentary explores the black hole paradox, following the narrative of two teams deeply involved in studying black holes. It’s packed full of information and philosophical musings to keep you thinking long after the video ends. 

IMAX: Hubble

The best space documentaries to watch in 2021: image shows Hubble space documentary poster

(Image credit: Amazon)

Interested in spacewalks and observing how astronauts navigate in space? Watch this IMAX documentary narrated by an Oscar-winning actor. Fans of spacewalks and Leonardo DiCaprio will thoroughly enjoy this short yet informative documentary following the efforts of seven astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis as they attempt to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. 

Narrated by DiCaprio, it’s an engaging masterpiece highlighting the importance of the Hubble telescope, how it’s maintained, and the efforts that go into working - and 'walking' - in space. 

A Beautiful Planet

The best space documentaries to watch in 2021: image shows a beautiful planet poster

(Image credit:
  • Release date: 2016
  • Watch it on Hulu or buy it on Blu-Ray

There are dozens of documentaries featuring other planets. But what if you want to watch something closer to home (literally)? Enter 'A Beautiful Planet'.

It’s a visual treat featuring stunning views of our planet as seen from the International Space Station. Add Jennifer Lawrence’s narration and an engrossing soundtrack to the mix, and you have a breathtaking experience to remember for years to come. The best part? The documentary goes beyond just pretty pictures and shows the daily life of astronauts in the ISS and offers a closer look at the effects of global warming. 

The Last Man on the Moon

The best space documentaries to watch in 2021: image shows astronaut walking on the moon

(Image credit: Getty)

Keen to learn more about the world of astronauts beyond their discoveries? Then you’ll love this biography-style documentary. 

With rare archive material and eye-catching visual effects, this fascinating film explores the iconic history of Apollo astronaut Eugene Cernan, who is currently the last man to have walked on the moon. 

You can enjoy a deeper dive into Cernan’s life including his time in the space program, his missions, and his rare experience as an astronaut. 

In the Shadow of the Moon

The best space documentaries to watch in 2021: In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)

(Image credit: Amazon)

Say you’ve watched all the Apollo space mission documentaries, but you still want more. Then consider this multiple award-winning documentary, featuring real interviews with all surviving Apollo team members who were a part of space missions from 1968 to 1972.

To make things more interesting, like other Apollo documentaries, it also features archival footage to offer a closer look into the life of astronauts and their famous missions. 

The Farthest - Voyager in Space

The best space documentaries to watch in 2021: The Farthest - Voyager in Space (2017)

(Image credit: Amazon)

Interested in learning more about NASA’s Voyager mission? Watch PBS’s The Farthest - Voyager in Space which chronicles the journey of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.  

This is another award-winning documentary offering a deeper dive into one of the most ambitious space missions undertaken by NASA in the US. You get to hear the story of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 through real accounts straight from the experts who worked on these missions. The documentary also features old footage and images so you can experience what it was like to be a part of such huge space operations. 

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Sakshi Udavant

Sakshi Udavant is a freelance journalist with a degree in psychology.  She is an SEO/marketing writer working with both B2B and B2C brands. She covers mental health, relationships, business, finance, technology, and other topics.  She’s worked with a wide range of top-tier brands like PayPal, Mozilla, Business Insider, Digital Trends, Apartment Therapy, BigThink, The Balance, Chicago Tribune, and more.