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Watch the trailer for 'Return to Space' on Netflix chronicling SpaceX's historic 1st astronaut launch

SpaceX made history in May 2020 when it launched its two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on a private rocket and spacecraft. That feat, which restored American access to space from U.S. soil, is now the focus of a new Netflix documentary and you can see the first trailer here.

"Return to Space," a Netflix (opens in new tab)documentary coming on April 7, chronicles SpaceX's Demo-2 mission for NASA, which launched astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on a four-month trip to the International Space Station. They launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft (which they named Endeavour), marking the first time NASA astronauts ever launched into orbit on a commercial spacecraft.

In photos: SpaceX's historic Demo-2 test flight with astronauts

Netflix's "Return to Space" documentary chronicles SpaceX's historic Demo-2 mission, which launched two NASA astronauts in May 2020 in the company's first crewed flight. (Image credit: Netflix)

The documentary is directed and by the Oscar-winning duo Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin ("Free Solo," "The Rescue") and chronicles the efforts of SpaceX founder Elon Musk and NASA to launch the first American crewed flight from Florida since the agency retired its space shuttle fleet in 2011. For nine years, NASA was reliant on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft to fly astronauts until SpaceX's Demo-2 launch. 

"Earth is the cradle of humanity," Musk says in the trailer. "We can't stay in the cradle for ever."

"Offering rare access inside the first crewed mission launched from U.S. soil since the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, this is an intimate portrait of the engineers and astronauts chosen for the historic moment," Netflix wrote in a film description. "Following NASA veterans Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, and their families in the leadup to launch, Return To Space brings viewers along for their thrilling ride to the International Space Station, and into mission control with Musk and the SpaceX team as they bring them back to Earth for a dramatic splashdown return."

Since SpaceX's Demo-2 mission in May 2020, the company has launched three crewed flights for NASA (a fourth is set to launch in April) and the first all-civilian flight to orbit with its private Inspiration4 mission in September 2021. 

The company will also launch three private orbital flights for billionaire Jared Isaacman (who bought the Inspiration4 flight) using SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft and eventually its new Starship deep-space vehicle.

SpaceX is one of two companies (Boeing is the other) that NASA picked to fly astronauts on private space taxis in 2014. Boeing has launched one uncrewed test flight of its Starliner spacecraft, which did not reach the space station, and is expected to launch a second uncrewed flight in May of this year.

Netflix's "Return to Space" documentary premieres on April 7.

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Tariq Malik
Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.