Unknown: Cosmic Time Machine Review – Failure is not an option

By Romey Norton
Published: July 24, 2023 (Last updated: August 17, 2023)
Unknown: Cosmic Time Machine Review - Failure is not an option


Space exploration as we’ve never seen it before, taking us behind the scenes of how NASA creates and sends a telescope into space.

This review of the Netflix film Unknown: Cosmic Time Machine does not contain spoilers.

Imagine what you thought was nothing, turning out to be thousands of galaxies? Space exploration is important, significant, and incredibly cool. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to put together, with high risk. Humans are constantly wanting to find answers to the universe; where we came from, and where we are going. In this Netflix documentary, we learn how the James Webb Telescope will fundamentally change the way we see and understand the universe.

Unknown Cosmic Time Machine review and plot summary

Opening to shots of our solar system, the documentary begins to discuss what is in and beyond our skies. From the first sixty seconds, I was hooked.

Unknown: Cosmic Time Machine sees a group of engineers and scientists take a giant leap in a quest to understand the universe. With huge advances in technology, NASA conducts a mission to launch the James Webb Space Telescope. It’s a giant and scary leap, and if anything goes wrong, it’s decades of work and billions of dollars down the drain, so the pressure is on. 

Along with NASA, this is a joint mission with the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency. This mission is ambitious and dangerous and we’re given exclusive access to behind-the-scenes of what happens before, during, and after a launch.

There is a lot of scientific jargon, but it takes care to explain clearly and with detail, explaining the telescope and how it works. There are detailed animations and models helping describe, and it’s incredibly impressive. Telescopes are like time machines, light takes time to travel through space, and we learn how scientists have discovered this and use this in space exploration. 

The documentary is in two halves, the first thirty minutes is about creating the telescope and the second is watching it in space, building it in space, and the data it’s gathering. The launch section has a dramatic build-up, and watching everyone celebrate is sweet and humbling. I do enjoy documentaries like this; they make me feel like I am in a lecture, being shown and taught something I didn’t know before. Whilst we have people being interviewed, their voices are used over footage of NASA’s internal workings, not just watching people talk. We also learn how they became interested in space. 

Watching everyone’s reactions to the first photos from the telescope, six months after its deployment, is very emotional. The photos are wondrous and beautiful. A lovely way to finish a magical documentary.

Is Unknown Cosmic Time Machine good or bad?

At 64 minutes long this interesting documentary is well worth investing in. It’s educational and informative and I learned a lot more than I thought I would in over an hour.

Is Unknown Cosmic Time Machine worth watching?

Yes! It’s packed with information, colorful animations, and plenty of graphics to support their words, helping the audience learn more about space exploration and the James Webb Telescope.

What did you think of Unknown Cosmic Time Machine? Comment below.

You can watch this film with a subscription to Netflix

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