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Space documentary covers career of local astronaut

Traveling to space is one of the greatest adventures a person can undertake, but very few individuals have been able to take that journey. One of them, Dr. Linda Godwin, is the subject of an upcoming documentary short, 250 Miles Up.

250 Miles Up is directed by Morgan Johnson, who grew up in Jackson and recently graduated from Southeast Missouri State University where he studied television and film.

“Linda Godwin is definitely one of the big heroes in my life,” Johnson said. “She’s done something really extraordinary and it’s kinda crazy we’re from the same high school.”

Godwin was born in Cape Girardeau, graduated from Jackson High School and received her bachelor of science degree in mathematics and physics from Southeast Missouri State University.

She joined NASA in 1980 and continued working there till 2010. Godwin took part in four space flights, spent 38 total days in space and completed over 10 hours of spacewalks. Now she teaches physics and astronomy at the University of Missouri.

Johnson first got in contact with Godwin last October and met her in Columbia before he started work on the documentary. Johnson said he was able to ask Godwin all his questions about her various missions, and her answers were then used as the narration of his film.

250 Miles Up also features a significant amount of archival footage of Godwin’s various trips to space that was publicly available from NASA.

“There is a big film festival NASA is holding called CineSpace and they allow you to use footage from NASA,” Johnson said. “That really helped a lot. I was able to use some ultra-high definition videos from the international space station.”

The film is submitted to the CineSpace short film completion. Johnson will find out if his film is a winner or finalist during the CineSpace award ceremony that’s part of the Houston Cinema Arts Festival. Those films chosen will be screened at other festivals, as well as on NASA TV and on the International Space Station.

“It is very, very selective [to be chosen,]” Johnson said. “It would be a huge accomplishment if I can pull it off. But I feel confident, it’s a really nice film.”

CineSpace is currently in its third year of existence. NASA received 194 different films from 22 countries in its first year, and 457 films from 48 countries in its second year. Johnson said he would not be surprised if around 1,000 films were submitted this year.

Johnson said that he has submitted the film to other festivals as well, some of which focus on films about the accomplishments of women. He said that one of his goals in making this film is to bring more attention to Godwin and other women in science.

“There have only been 60 women that have ever been in space and one of them is from Jackson, Missouri, of all places,” Johnson said. “She’s actually from Oak Ridge, which is on the outskirts of Jackson, and it’s kind of amazing how, as a woman from Oak Ridge, she managed to work for NASA and go to outer space.”

250 Miles Up will also be available on Johnson’s YouTube page, MorganAntonioJohnson, starting on Sept. 10.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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