“A Million Miles Away” is a powerful narrative that chronicles the journey of astronaut José Hernández, played by Michael Peña, as he fulfils his dream of travelling into space on NASA’s 2009 manned mission, STS-128. The film concludes with José leaving his family behind on Earth, and embarking on his mission to the International Space Station, a moment that is both triumphant and bittersweet.
José’s path to becoming an astronaut is marked by resilience and determination. Despite facing six rejections, he refuses to give up on his dream. However, it’s not just his personal courage that leads to his success. The film emphasizes the importance of collective support and love from his family. It’s through opening up to them and leaning on their support that José finds the strength to persevere through the rejections and ultimately achieve his dream.
One of the key factors that led to José’s selection for the mission is his understanding of the value of teamwork. Initially struggling in the training program, José learns that success in space requires a crew that can trust and rely on each other. His commitment to his fellow trainees, as well as his mentor Chawla, plays a significant role in his growth and eventual selection for the mission.
The film is structured around the five ingredients to success that José’s father imparts to him during his upbringing. These steps serve as a guiding framework for José’s journey. From finding his goal to understanding the importance of collective effort, each step brings him closer to realizing his dream. José’s progression through these stages is a testament to his unwavering dedication.
The film also addresses the impact of José’s dream on his family. His pursuit of becoming an astronaut requires significant sacrifices from them, from uprooting their lives for his education to delaying his wife’s own dreams. Despite the challenges, José’s family supports him wholeheartedly, demonstrating the strength of their love and trust.
The symbolism of the monarch butterfly is woven throughout the narrative, representing the journey of José and his family. Like the butterfly, they overcome challenges and travel great distances, relying on the efforts of generations before them. José’s inclusion of the butterfly in his mission is a tribute to his upbringing and a recognition of the collective effort that made his dream possible.
In the end, “A Million Miles Away” is a poignant exploration of the pursuit of a dream and the profound impact it has on individuals and their families. José’s story is a testament to the power of resilience, love, and the support of a community in achieving seemingly insurmountable goals.