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I saw two episodes of this series on an airplane flight probably in 2014, I believe on the SciFi (SyFy?) channel. The basic story was a race to Mars between NASA (or its successor) and China. The NASA ship had about five or six astronauts, and the big things I recall about it are that the problems they encountered in the voyage were extremely realistic.

  • A semiconductor module of some sort blew up (with magic smoke escape) during the launch
  • On Mars they end up using some of the technology dropped on Mars by the Chinese mission, and a mechanical failure injures or kills one of the NASA astronauts
  • On the return voyage the NASA team start suffering from something they believe is caused by exposure to Mars dust

it turns out to be CO or CO2 poisoning caused by a systems failure masked by a telemetry bug

  • Towards the end of the voyage there is a failure in the engines, and the engineer has to subject himself to a high dosage of radiation to get things working again

The TV channel in question did have a streaming service, but I was unable to find the miniseries on it; and since we did not have SyFy at home at the time I never did learn what its name was. I'm hoping someone has ideas here... thank you for your time.

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Is this Race to Mars (2007)...?

From Wikpedia:

Race to Mars is a 2007 Canadian television mini-series about a fictitious mission to Mars that is based on contemporary international research. The first part aired on Discovery Channel Canada and its High Definition channel on September 23, 2007 and the second part on September 30. It was produced in association with Galafilm Inc. William Shatner narrates the miniseries.

From IMDB:

In the year 2030, the race to be the first to reach the Red Planet is on - and China is leading the way. China has stunned the world by leapfrogging over America's long-term plans and has landed a series of advanced rovers and robotic landers in their quest to make the most important discovery in history - extraterrestrial life on Mars. Once again, America and its partners, including Canada, are thrust into a winner-take-all space race - but the stakes are higher than the race to the Moon nearly seven decades earlier. The international team accelerates its plans - when China prepares to send its final wave of rovers, this consortium will surge ahead and at last launch a human crew. Six extraordinary individuals from Canada, the United States, Russia, France and Japan are selected for this gruelling two-year mission. These four men and two women must work together as a team, rise above their secret fears and struggle with the sacrifice of leaving friends and family behind. Training and determination will get them only so far, and when this crew sets out on humanity's first expedition to another world, nothing can prepare them for the unexpected danger and staggering wonder of what they will experience.

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    Looks like - but I'll have to take some time to watch this and confirm. Thank you very much for this.
    – tsc_chazz
    Nov 29, 2023 at 23:18
  • Confirmed. I should have guessed Discovery Canada - it was a WestJet flight if I recall correctly - but this did not appear at the time on the Discovery downloads site. Thank you again for this.
    – tsc_chazz
    Dec 1, 2023 at 5:20

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