Image: The cast of TV's 'Battlestar Galactica'
SciFi Channel
The cast of TV's 'Battlestar Galactica' on the SciFi Channel.
By
updated 3/19/2009 2:04:20 PM ET 2009-03-19T18:04:20

Astronaut Garrett Reisman spent three unforgettable months living in space, but after landing he ended up on a different mission of sorts aboard the fictional spaceship Battlestar Galactica.

Just weeks after his return from the international space station to Earth last summer, Reisman found himself on the set of Sci Fi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica," watching actors play at spaceflight as they filmed the final episode of the science fiction television series. The two-hour series finale airs Friday night.

"The whole spaceflight thing was still very fresh," Reisman, 41, told SPACE.com in a recent interview. "And then to be on the set where they're simulating it, it was pretty neat to experience."

Reisman didn't just watch. He donned the garb of Galactica's Colonial Marines for a short scene, though whether it will end up in the final cut is anyone's guess, he said.

"There's an extremely good chance that it will not even be in it at all," Reisman said, adding that the scene is not integral to the plot.

In a Jan. 15 issue of the entertainment trade magazine Variety, Reisman described the scene and his visit to the Vancouver set. Someone throws up on him and then he dies.

"I had so much fun that day," he told SPACE.com.

Real station, fake spaceship
Reisman watched the original "Battlestar Galactica" series as a child and followed its recent rebirth, which retells the story of an immense space battleship as it protects a fleet of civilian spacecraft while fending off attacks from the robot Cylon enemy.

While he was in space, Reisman turned the lights down aboard the space station and tuned in to the new series via computer with the station's then-skipper, fellow NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, as Galactica's commander Lee Adama tried to keep his fleet together on the road to find Earth. The astronauts briefly spoke, while in space, with the show's producers Ron Moore and David Eick.

While watching the show aboard the station, one glaring omission came to light, Reisman said. No one was floating around in weightlessness.

Image: Astronaut Garrett Reisman
NASA
Astronaut Garrett Reisman, Expedition 16/17 flight engineer, poses for a photo after signing the Expedition 16 patch, which was added to the growing collection of insignias representing crews who performed spacewalks from the Quest Airlock of the ISS.
"Being able to shoot across the room and fly, you just can't beat it," Reisman said. "Why would you deny yourself the incredible pleasure?"

But Reisman answered his own question as he recalled the hours of exercise he had to do each day just to stay healthy in space.

"There are actually scientific reasons you might want to do that," he said. "We have to work really hard to counteract the effects of zero gravity on the human body."

It's also a lot simpler and cheaper to film a show without constantly mimicking weightlessness, so that probably helps too, he added.

Reisman was also surprised with how similar the communications protocols on "Battlestar Galactica" are to those used between the International Space Station, its various Mission Controls in the U.S, Russia, Europe and Japan, and other spacecraft.

"There are a lot of things on the show that they got right, as far as the communications," he said, "especially the communications between ships."

Getting the word out
During his 2008 spaceflight, Reisman was interviewed for Comedy Central's "Colbert Report," but he's not the only professional astronaut to appear on television.

Other spaceflyers have appeared on a variety of shows, included the International Space Station's current commander Michael Fincke, who appeared with fellow astronaut Terry Virts in the last episode of "Star Trek: Enterprise" and had a line of dialogue.

Science fiction, Reisman said, has a very real ability to inspire the public in real-life space exploration, though his passion was sparked by NASA's Apollo moon missions. Growing up in Parsippany, N.J, he watched Super 8 films of those missions until they wore out, then he spliced them back together and watched them again.

"Science fiction works best when it's done as an allegory," Reisman said. "That's what's so powerful about the new show. They take on a lot of contemporary issues."

Unlike the original "Star Trek" television series, which tended to portray societal issues as moral parables, the modern "Battlestar" takes a more nuanced approach, the astronaut explained.

"The new mission drives at the gray area, where you assume what's right and wrong, and it forces you to reexamine your concept of that," Reisman said. "Well, couple that with some good spaceship shoot 'em ups."

Watching the glitzy spaceships on "Battlestar Galactica" zoom through space battles while the International Space Station stays firmly locked in Earth orbit could feel a bit disheartening at times, but there was a very positive upshot, Reisman said.

"When you're on the space station, nobody is actually shooting at you," he said with a laugh. "So that's nice."

© 2013 Space.com. All rights reserved. More from Space.com.

Photos: Month in Space: January 2014

loading photos...
  1. Southern stargazing

    Stars, galaxies and nebulas dot the skies over the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Paranal Observatory in Chile, in a picture released on Jan. 7. This image also shows three of the four movable units that feed light into the Very Large Telescope Interferometer, the world's most advanced optical instrument. Combining to form one larger telescope, they are greater than the sum of their parts: They reveal details that would otherwise be visible only through a telescope as large as the distance between them. (Y. Beletsky / ESO) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A balloon's view

    Cameras captured the Grandville High School RoboDawgs' balloon floating through Earth's upper atmosphere during its ascent on Dec. 28, 2013. The Grandville RoboDawgs’ first winter balloon launch reached an estimated altitude of 130,000 feet, or about 25 miles, according to coaches Mike Evele and Doug Hepfer. It skyrocketed past the team’s previous 100,000-feet record set in June. The RoboDawgs started with just one robotics team in 1998, but they've grown to support more than 30 teams at public schools in Grandville, Mich. (Kyle Moroney / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Spacemen at work

    Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, right, and Sergey Ryazanskiy perform maintenance on the International Space Station on Jan. 27. During the six-hour, eight-minute spacewalk, Kotov and Ryazanskiy completed the installation of a pair of high-fidelity cameras that experienced connectivity issues during a Dec. 27 spacewalk. The cosmonauts also retrieved scientific gear outside the station's Russian segment. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Special delivery

    The International Space Station's Canadian-built robotic arm moves toward Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Cygnus autonomous cargo craft as it approaches the station for a Jan. 12 delivery. The mountains below are the southwestern Alps. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Accidental art

    A piece of art? A time-lapse photo? A flickering light show? At first glance, this image looks nothing like the images we're used to seeing from the Hubble Space Telescope. But it's a genuine Hubble frame that was released on Jan. 27. Hubble's team suspects that the telescope's Fine Guidance System locked onto a bad guide star, potentially a double star or binary. This caused an error in the tracking system, resulting in a remarkable picture of brightly colored stellar streaks. The prominent red streaks are from stars in the globular cluster NGC 288. (NASA / ESA) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Supersonic test flight

    A camera looking back over Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo's fuselage shows the rocket burn with a Mojave Desert vista in the background during a test flight of the rocket plane on Jan. 10. Cameras were mounted on the exterior of SpaceShipTwo as well as its carrier airplane, WhiteKnightTwo, to monitor the rocket engine's performance. The test was aimed at setting the stage for honest-to-goodness flights into outer space later this year, and eventual commercial space tours.

    More about SpaceShipTwo on PhotoBlog (Virgin Galactic) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Red lagoon

    The VLT Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile captured this richly detailed new image of the Lagoon Nebula, released on Jan. 22. This giant cloud of gas and dust is creating intensely bright young stars, and is home to young stellar clusters. This image is a tiny part of just one of 11 public surveys of the sky now in progress using ESO telescopes. (ESO/VPHAS team) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Fire on the mountain

    This image provided by NASA shows a satellite view of smoke from the Colby Fire, taken by the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer aboard NASA's Terra spacecraft as it passed over Southern California on Jan. 16. The fire burned more than 1,863 acres and forced the evacuation of 3,700 people. (NASA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Where stars are born

    An image captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Orion Nebula, an immense stellar nursery some 1,500 light-years away. This false-color infrared view, released on Jan. 15, spans about 40 light-years across the region. The brightest portion of the nebula is centered on Orion's young, massive, hot stars, known as the Trapezium Cluster. But Spitzer also can detect stars still in the process of formation, seen here in red hues. (NASA / JPL-Caltech) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Cygnus takes flight

    Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket rises from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va, on Jan. 9. The rocket sent Orbital's Cygnus cargo capsule on its first official resupply mission to the International Space Station. (Chris Perry / NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A long, long time ago...

    This long-exposure picture from the Hubble Space Telescope, released Jan. 8, is the deepest image ever made of any cluster of galaxies. The cluster known as Abell 2744 appears in the foreground. It contains several hundred galaxies as they looked 3.5 billion years ago. Abell 2744 acts as a gravitational lens to warp space, brightening and magnifying images of nearly 3,000 distant background galaxies. The more distant galaxies appear as they did more than 12 billion years ago, not long after the Big Bang. (NASA / NASA via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Frosty halo

    Sun dogs are bright spots that appear in the sky around the sun when light is refracted through ice crystals in the atmosphere. These sun dogs appeared on Jan. 5 amid brutally cold temperatures along Highway 83, north of Bismarck, N.D. The temperature was about 22 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, with a 50-below-zero wind chill.

    Slideshow: The Year in Space (Brian Peterson / The Bismarck Tribune via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments