The family and I just rented the movie Gravity from Redbox. Well, there’s $1 and 2 hours I’ll never get back. This has to be possibly the worst space themed movie ever made. My question is, did they get anything right about space travel, anything at all? The woke thing was painful to watch and it seems ass if the writers didn’t consult anyone about the realities of being in space. So, did anyone see anything in the movie that was correct?
The whole premise that an astronaut could jet pack over to the ISS, that’s a considerable distance away, that a mission specialist could enter a Soyuz capsule and learn to fly it in a few minutes by reading the emergency manuals, that the Soyuz could be made ready for reentry in a mater if minutes and tumble during reentry. That a fire could start in an oxygenated atmosphere and not immediately spread everywhere. Little things like that.
Things they got right: A lot of the zero-G physics. A lot of astronauts have actually said that they did an excellent job capturing the “feel” of spacewalks.
Things they got wrong: Hubble and ISS and Chinese space stations in the same orbit. Chinese space station mysteriously falling into the atmosphere for no apparent reason.
For flying the Soyuz: she had trained in a simulator (Why? I’ll grant you it seems unlikely that a Mission specialist would be trained for that)
Which fire are you referring to? The ISS uses the standard 14.7 PSI Earth atmosphere with 20% oxygen, as do Russian Soyuz. Not sure what the Chinese do.
It was a Shenzhou spacecraft that was used to land in. I agree that preparing it for landing happened awfully fast, but I’m not sure what your problem with the tumbling was. Soyuz spacecraft have done that, when one of the modules fails to detach. It’s not fun for the people inside (High g-forces, and g-forces in directions you’re not intended to go in), but it’s survivable.
That’s funny, because another actual astronaut says:
He goes on to praise everything from the depiction of a spacewalk to what buttons they push. Of course, later in the article he discusses all the things they got wrong.
So my criticism here is that even if it is flawed, it is hardly " the worst space themed movie ever made." If the flaws in the movie outweighed and overshadowed all the things that were completely correct and factual, then I have pity on whoever goes to the movies with you.
Small point about the nature of the atmosphere used in spacecraft. What matters, for both fires and humans is the partial pressure of oxygen, not the percentage in the atmosphere. Whilst we remember the fire in the Apollo programme, the reason is complex. The spacecraft was designed so that it could run with a pure oxygen environment at a reduced pressure - so that the partial pressure, whilst in space, was the same as seen at sea level on the Earth with normal air. The surface of the lungs then sees the same effective spatial density of oxygen molecules at one fifth the pressure.
Having a pure oxygen atmosphere at sea level pressure is bad. Fires run fast and furious. But in a spacecraft, once at one fifth sea level pressure, the fire risk is about the same as ordinary air at sea level. However for long term human habitation you want to return to sea level pressures and atmospheric air mix. It is for when you want to save every last gram of mass and construct spacecraft that are about a flimsy as a coke can that you look to pure oxygen at reduced pressure. (Or build space suits - where the internal pressure is what makes them hard to move in.) What they had not done for Apollo 1 was work out a way to test the spacecraft on the ground with a different gas mix to what it was designed to fly with. So it was tested on the ground with pure oxygen, but at sea level and thus five times the pressure it was intended to fly with. That was bad.
Well, it did at the end.
As for the portrayal of the various stations in orbits relatively close to one another, the director explicitly said that was done deliberately. In other words, they knew that these stations are much farther apart but they portrayed them as being closer to make the story work. Personally, I’m willing to accept that. All movies involve a suspension of disbelief.
As noted by others it got a lot of things right that most space movies don’t, and a few astronauts have come out to say that what it gets right is refreshing and what it gets wrong is excusable for good narrative. It doesn’t have to work for everyone. I found it refreshing to see action scenes in space depicted in silence like they should.
No one is going to be buzzing playfully around the HST wasting precious propellant and risking damage to fragile space hardware.
One of the things that was difficult for me was letting go of the ending. As someone with a fair amount of mountaineering and survival experience I didn’t think her chances of surviving the night with nothing but wet underwear was much better than it was in orbit.
It’s been a while since I saw the movie, but I gathered that the authorities were aware that she had landed and approximately where and help was on the way. (I think we heard radio chatter at the end.)