Andy Weir was a programmer for Warcraft 2, laid off from AOL, and self-publishing two books that “sucked” before The Martian became a New York Times Bestseller. It started as a serial sent in a mailing list to around 3,000 people–now Matt Damon is playing the main character in a movie adaptation coming this October.
If that all sounds like it happened fast, it did. Aditya Sood, a producer on The Martian film, told a packed NASA panel at Comic-Con this year that everything came together with “unprecedented speed.”
In fact, according to Weir (who was flanked on the panel by Sood, Victor Glover, who became an astronaut the day before) Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science, and Todd May, the engineer in charge of the largest rockets ever created) both the book deal for The Martian and the movie rights deal were signed within four days of each other. “It was a good week,” Weir said with a smile.
And though there has been some controversy surrounding the actors’ payments for performing in The Martian, Weir also said that many of them were apparently willing to take pay cuts to appear in this love letter to science, NASA, and the human spirit.
The rest of the panel was devoted to NASA explaining how we are going to put an astronaut like the fictional botanist Mark Watney on the Red Planet. Todd May, who works on NASA’s Space Launch System, explained that the rockets we are developing now will have more than enough power to take explorers to Mars. “The equivalent of 18 Hoover Dams’ worth of energy is coming out the bottom of [the SLS rockets],” May said. “We’re getting this rocket ready for Victor.”
“We are the hard thing to get to Mars,” explained now astronaut Victor Glover. But we are going.
IMAGE: 20th Century Fox