James Webb Space Telescope stars in new Netflix documentary 'Unknown: Cosmic Time Machine' (exclusive trailer)

We're one year into an unprecedented view of the cosmos.

As the astonishing achievements of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope are paraded out this summer to celebrate the $10 billion observatory's one-year anniversary of its first dazzling deep sky imagery, a new Netflix documentary titled "Unknown: Cosmic Time Machine" reveals more details of how this historic astronomical project was hatched and executed.

Directed by Shai Gal and executive produced by Jason Spingarn-Koff, "Cosmic Time Machine" premieres on July 24, 2023 and provides a captivating behind-the-scenes glimpse into NASA's endeavor to launch the James Webb Space Telescope as we tag along with its dedicated team of visionary engineers and scientists while they endure the tensions and triumphs of a mission that took nearly three decades to complete.

Related: The James Webb Space Telescope wraps 1st year peering across the universe. What has it discovered so far?
Read more: James Webb Space Telescope celebrates 1st year of science with jaw-dropping view of cosmic nursery (photo)

Promotional art for "Unknown: Cosmic Time Machine." (Image credit: Netflix)

As a technologically advanced successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Telescope is the largest, most complex off-Earth observatory in the world. It lifted off inside an ESA Ariane 5 rocket on Christmas Day of 2021 from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana and arrived at its calculated Lagrange 2 workplace 1 million miles (1.6 million km) from Earth in January of 2022. This heavenly parking space is the point in space where the Earth and sun's gravity are equal, creating a stable orbit around the sun.

a spacecraft in orbit above the earth

Promotional art for "Unknown: Cosmic Time Machine." (Image credit: Netflix)

This emotional documentary clocks in at a near-perfect 64 minutes and methodically chronicles NASA's long-delayed James Webb Telescope's path from conception to launch to sunshield deployment, careful alignment and eventual full operation, capturing rare deep field infrared images of galaxies, exoplanets, nebulae, stellar nurseries, and perhaps even the keys to the mysterious origins of the universe.    

"Unknown" is a new four-part docuseries event that delivers eye-opening tales of "adventure and exploration" in weekly doses that began on July 3, 2023 with "Unknown: The Lost Pyramid," and was followed by "Unknown: Killer Robots" on July 10 and "Unknown: Cave of Bones" on July 17.

Netflix's "Unknown: Cosmic Time Machine" orbits the airwaves on July 24, 2023.

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Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.