Netflix has some of the best space documentaries for anyone who loves astronomy. Space may be the final frontier, but, for those without the wherewithal to become an astronaut or the billions required to fund their own explorations, it’s pretty much unreachable. That may seem like a dour reality, but those enamored by the vast void beyond the Earth can easily take recourse in the many fascinating documentaries that have been made about space exploration in recent years. From man’s first small steps toward the infinite to conspiracies regarding ancient peoples and their run-ins with beings from outer spheres, every aspect of space exploration is exceedingly well documented and easily accessible.
On top of the great fictional streaming series and sci-fi movies available on Netflix right now, the streaming giant has some great options for people who want to learn more about planets, stars, and Earth’s solar system from documentaries. The amazing content on offer includes a look at the work of astronauts and a dissection of possible life on other planets. If that’s not enough, there’s also a journey into mystery, with a look at black holes and what could rest beyond the universe that the world knows about right now.
Our Universe (2022)
Released on Netflix in 2022, Our Universe is a space documentary that’s reminiscent of the Our Planet series and is structured as a six-part series that’s narrated by the highly recognizable voice of actor Morgan Freeman. This is a historical look at the formation of the universe and what makes up the solar system itself. It also goes into the development of the millions of different life forms that have evolved on Earth over millions of years. The documentary also utilizes CGI special effects to reveal the stories of universal concepts and the stories of the animals, shown in their natural habitats.
The six episodes finally conclude with one over the sun and how the explosions on its surface equal that of millions of atomic blasts, while then contrasting that with the animals on Earth who go about their lives. Without the sun, these animals could never live, and this is a space documentary that shows how it all connects and what is in space helps what is on Earth exist.
Alien Worlds (2020)
Released in 2020, Alien Worlds is a four-part documentary series on Netflix about space and how life could develop on exoplanets. What is most interesting is that this is a speculative documentary. Instead of showing how things really are on the planets and in the far reaches of space, scientists research what could be out there. While that makes this a mostly fictional documentary, it is based on factual science research and there are plenty of experts on tap to talk about what life off Earth could look like.
Alien Worlds talks to astronomers, astrobiologists, ecologists, and more about how the rules of life on Earth could look if applied to other planets and exoplanets in the universe. They then explore what life would look like if a planet had two suns (like the scene in Star Wars), if there was a low gravity pull, and if a planet was scorching hot or permanently frozen. The documentary remains fun as it also includes CGI scenes that show what alien life would look like. Sophie Okonedo narrates the documentary.
Black Holes: The Edge Of All We Know (2021)
The 2020 space documentary on Netflix, Black Holes: The Edge of All We Know is an exciting look at the mysterious black holes that form in the outer reaches of space. For those unaware, a black hole forms when a massive star collapses under its own weight at the end of their lives. Almost all galaxies, including Earth’s own Milky Way, formed with a massive black hole at the center (as shown in the mind-bending fictional movie Interstellar). This documentary breaks down almost everything scientists know about the phenomenon.
The space documentary talks to a team of mathematicians, including Stephen Hawking, trying to solve the Information Paradox, and a global team that worked to capture the first actual image of a black hole. The global team released the first photo of a black hole in 2019 while the mathematicians released their paper on black holes in 2018. This feature shows both teams’ work and what they discovered.
Return To Space (2022)
Return to Space is a space documentary on Netflix about Elon Musk’s SpaceX company and its attempt to take humans back into space. Unlike many space exploration documentaries, which are about astronauts and exploring scientifically, SpaceX wants to take anyone into space that can afford it. However, there is also the fact that Elon Musk believes that space travel is important for the future of humanity and this documentary shows the lead-up to the rocket launch to the International Space Station.
One thing that anyone who watches Return to Space will see is that the road into outer space is not just about governments anymore. SpaceX is a commercial company that partners with NASA to make this accessible for anyone. Elon Musk also features heavily throughout the feature. This documentary features some amazing footage of several failed attempts, but it is one of the best space documentaries on Netflix about actual rocket science.
Challenger: The Final Flight (2020)
One of the more serious space documentaries on Netflix, Challenger: The Final Flight documents the story of the fatal crash of NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986. This is a four-part documentary series that is exclusive to Netflix, and it helps tell the story of not only the tragedy but the importance od the mission. It also commemorates the lives of the astronauts who perished in the explosion.
There were seven astronauts who died on that mission, all in the name of space exploration. This documentary series honors them and shows how, even with the mission’s failure, it was still an important part of history for anyone interested in space travel. The disaster changed a lot about how NASA and the U.S. space program operate and forced new safety protocols on all future missions into space.
The Mars Generation (2017)
Particularly piquant and watchable as climate change becomes more of a reality, The Mars Generation explores the potential for developing the sci-fi movie dream of one day living on Mars. Depicting the day-to-day struggles of a group of young scientists and engineers dedicated to a Martian future, the documentary shows how far humanity has to go before the planet is a viable substitute for the earthly perfection we already possess, but ultimately presents the future as bright and full of possibility.
The Mars Generation has a group of space enthusiasts at Space Camp in Alabama working on these dreams. Time Magazine sponsored this show, as it details the kids going through training under experienced mentors. Things are not always lighthearted, as it touches on the Challenger and Columbia explosions, but for any youngsters who might love to go into space exploration, it is a great space documentary to watch on Netflix.
The Wonderful: Stories From The Space Station (2021)
It is easy to believe that space exploration is a grand adventure like in the movies. While that’s true somewhat, much of space exploration is spent in extremely cramped and potentially dangerous conditions. The views may be life-changing, but there’s quite a bit to life on the International Space Station that regular people don’t consider. This 2021 Netflix documentary focuses on the awesome and not-so-awesome realities of living on the ISS. It’s an interesting feature that will clue viewers into the rigors of life in Earth’s orbit.
The space documentary on Netflix tells the story of more than two decades of peaceful collaboration between nations, including those with different ideological goals, as they work together to benefit humanity. The people who tell the story of the International Space Station are astronauts and cosmonauts who lived on it. Anyone who watches this will quickly learn what it is like to live on the International Space Station, and what space travel really looks like. This is mostly for Netflix subscribers looking to binge content about space travel, and less for those who just want to stargaze.
More: 15 Space Movies To Watch If You Love Interstellar