Andy Weir: Mission Control

Ever since Andy Weir’s “The Martian” captured our imaginations as a novel and major motion picture, we’ve been hoping for more. Now, venturing onto the small screen, Weir’s got a TV show in the works. He graciously agreed to let us grill him for details.

Q. We’re excited to hear you’re working on a new show for CBS called “Mission Control.” Obviously, many of the details of the pilot are under wraps. What can you tell us about the show?

It takes place at the Mission Control Center in Houston. The main characters are the flight controllers and astronauts running a new (fictional) space station that is the first step toward a manned mission to Mars.

Q. You’ve toured NASA’s mission control in Houston. What was the most surprising thing you learned there that you didn’t know before?

I was impressed [with] how many women work there. The concept of science being an “old-boy” network was really put to lie. They’re very good about being a meritocracy.

Weir soaks up the experience of the Neutral Buoyancy Lab. Image Credit: NASA/James Blair and Lauren Harnett

Q. You’ve said that while many kids dream of being astronauts, you always dreamed of being in mission control. What was it about that role that fascinated you?

I just like the data… the details. That sort of thing always excited me.

Q. Is NASA supporting the new series? How are you achieving the same technical accuracy as you were known for in The Martian?

They’re not supporting it in any official capacity. But they’re certainly helpful in answering questions. I’m going for full technical accuracy – even more so than The Martian because this takes place modern-day.

Q. How is the process of creating a series different from (or the same as) a movie? I know you’re a big fan of Game of Thrones’ George R. R. Martin. Did he give you any advice about writing for TV?

Yes, he did. I asked him for any advice he had. TV is a different universe, for sure. Mainly because everything is a much larger commitment. For instance: casting. You’re not just saying “Hey, come film for a few weeks,” you’re saying, “Hey, come work for us permanently.” That’s a big difference to an actor and it affects everything.

Weir amuses JSC team members with the story behind his story, “The Martian.” Image Credit: NASA/James Blair and Lauren Harnett

Q. What is your role in scriptwriting, producing, and casting?

I wrote the pilot screenplay, then rewrote it with a group of writers, then rewrote it again with another writer. That’s how it goes.

Q. When will the Mission Control pilot begin production? When can we see it on air?

Shooting starts in March. If CBS picks up the show, it’ll probably air in the Fall.

Q. What else are you working on? Another novel? Another movie?

I’m working on my next novel now. It takes place in a city on the Moon. The main character is a woman who is a small-time criminal who gets in way over her head.