Movie Mom

Movie Mom


An Astronaut on “Gravity”

posted by Nell Minow

What do astronauts think of Gravity?  Mark Kelly wrote about his reaction to the George Clooney/Sandra Bullock space movie in the Washington Post.  “I’ve spent a total of 55 days in space so I know what to look for, and Cuarón really was able to capture what it looks like inside and outside of a spacecraft.”

Of course, I would fail you as an astronaut and an amateur film critic if I did not touch on the big misconception of “Gravity.” A key plot point involves a space station falling out of orbit because it was hit by debris. But that just doesn’t happen. Likewise, blowing up stuff in orbit makes a big mess, but it doesn’t send a giant field of shrapnel hurtling at high velocity toward a spacecraft that is circulating Earth in an entirely different orbit.

I can say this with confidence, because I’ve dealt with my fair share of space junk. In January of 2007, China intentionally targeted and destroyed one of its satellites, and it made a big mess in orbit. Six months later, I commanded space shuttle Discovery on a mission to the international space station . As one can imagine, we were concerned about the additional space junk. But we knew that we only had to put some distance between us and the debris.

You also can’t just point at things in space, head off in that direction and expect to get there. In June of 1965, Jim McDivitt tried to rendezvous his Gemini 4 spacecraft with a spent rocket casing — and he failed.

At the time, NASA didn’t understand that by pointing at something and accelerating, you increase your altitude, slow down and instead move away.

Today, we know that the best way to join up with another spacecraft is a slow procedure that takes an entire day in the space shuttle — too long for the supercharged momentum of a movie.

But the truth is, most of this doesn’t matter. Cuarón has given us a glimpse of the awe that is the universe beyond our atmosphere. And physics aside, he does it remarkably well.

 



Previous Posts

Best Movies About Writers
Flavorwire has put together a great list of the 50 best movies about writers. It's always tricky to make a writer interesting on film. On one hand, you have the advantage of a character who is likely to be witty and eloquent. Movies are written by writers, so they have some insight and appreciatio

posted 3:37:07pm Oct. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Great News About Now You See Me 2
You didn't think Arthur Tressler was going to let them get away with it, did you? I am very happy that one of the most entertaining films of 2013, Now You See Me is getting a sequel and the stars, including Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Michael Caine, and Woody Harrelson, are back, alo

posted 8:00:59am Oct. 21, 2014 | read full post »

In the Footsteps of St. Peter
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4c7qh9hMVY[/youtube] David Suchet (PBS' Hercule Poirot) is the host of In the Footsteps of St. Peter, out tomorrow on DVD.

posted 3:55:57pm Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Wrong About Critics, Wrong About Movies, Wrong About Faith
I am not going to give the people behind the idiotic and offensive press release I recently received the recognition of identifying them by name, but the claim that they make is one I have heard often enough I need to respond. The headline: Film Critics Don't Get Faith Films. This shows no understan

posted 2:36:30pm Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Disney Announced a New Animated Film for 2016: Moana
Entertainment Weekly reports that Disney has announced a new animated feature to be released in 2016: "Moana," with a Polynesian heroine in search of a fabled island. With Disney greats Ron Clements

posted 1:59:28pm Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.