International Space Station - Expedition 19 - Crew (NASA)By now you've probably heard that astronauts on the International Space Station watched J.J. Abrams' Star Trek on Friday. (Here's the account in Times Online.) American astronaut Michael Barratt (left, in the photo) is evidently a hard-core fan and requested the movie specifically after realizing that "orbiting the earth in a space module was the perfect environment to watch" the flick. Also, he wouldn't have to wait in line.

I had visions of the astronauts floating in space, watching the movie as it was projected on the moon, and prompting children on Earth to point up and ask, "Is that the man in the moon, Daddy?" "No, honey, that's Spock." But actually they watched it on a computer, with their feet strapped to the floor to keep from floating away. NASA obtained a (presumably) legal copy of the film before re-formatting the movie "to enable it to be beamed up from Mission Control to the space station, floating about 220 miles above the surface of earth."

Barratt watched the movie with Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 19 commander Gennady I. Padalka (center) and Japanese flight engineer Koichi Wakata (right); any guesses as to what the Russian thought of Chekhov's accent? I didn't realize that movie nights on the space station are a tradition. Of course, that set me to wondering what other movies the astronauts have been watching and what movie I might want to see in space. Would 2001: A Space Odyssey or Star Wars be too obvious? Silent Running? Marooned or Apollo 13 might not be the best choices. If you were an astronaut, what would you want to watch? What should the astronauts watch next?