If you've always dreamed about going to MIT, these are the shows for you. Engineers doing what they do best- solving really hard problems - typically for the good, but then those ChemEs can go off the rails. We're looking at you BrBa.
What makes science fiction "hard" is a respect for logic and adherence to the known laws of physics, versus "soft" science fiction which assumes we can innovate around any limitation (often including holes in a plot). Hardness is pretty subjective (just check out the debates on Reddit), but this list includes series that are generally seen to qualify.
The recent dramas (and a few melodramas) focus on NASA astronaut, their interactions with fellow crew members, and the families they leave behind--spoiler alert several of these are more space soap opera than sci-fi space opera.
Ok, we get it: the early Star Trek series were great, but production values have come a long way since then, which is why we put together this list of space opera shows from the turn of the 21st century--(okay we cheated a bit by including Star Trek: Deep Space 9, but it did extend until 1999).