Hey, now don’t get us wrong, we frickin’ loved Gravity. We even had a chance to chat with the movie’s science advisor – Kevin Grazier – not too long ago, so we know some of the work that went into it.
But what sort of space magazine would we be if we didn’t at least offer our critique of some of the science in the movie? So, without further ado, here’s what Alfonso Cuarón got right and wrong in Gravity. space science universe and space station alien science
And again there are, like, massive spoilers below. So don’t read on if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want it ruined, or if you want to plead ignorance to science and stuff. space science universe and space station alien science
This list is by no means extensive though, so if you spot anything we missed then post it in the comments. space science universe and space station alien science
1. Clooney’s character is reckless to the point of being ridiculous
We understand the need for personalities in a movie like this, but really at times Clooney’s character suspended belief a bit too much. At the start he’s flying around the Space Shuttle at who knows what speed in his jetpack, mouthing off about random stuff and generally acting in a pretty dangerous manner while maintaining a complete lack of professionalism that wouldn’t suit any astronaut, let alone a veteran supposedly of his calibre. No astronaut would act like he did. Well, except that idiotic Indian astronaut who throws himself to the end of his tether, which would probably have cut him in two. Astronauts are supposed to be competent, highly trained professionals that work together for months. Which brings us to… space science universe and space station alien science
2. How did the astronauts not know anything about each other?
When astronauts find out who they’re going to be flying in space with, they begin training with them on a daily basis for several months. So why didn’t Clooney and Bullock know anything about each other? Clooney doesn’t even know where she’s from! Although judging by his earlier misdemeanours, we wouldn’t be surprised if he was allowed to just skip training altogether so he could brush up on the stories he was going to tell while in space. space science universe and space station alien science
3. All those communications satellites would’ve been fine
Houston tells the astronauts that the Russians have shot down a satellite in low Earth orbit (LEO), meaning a communications blackout is imminent. But why? Communications satellites orbit much, much higher in geostationary orbits (so they’re always above the same point on Earth). Like, 35,000 kilometres (22,000 miles) higher. We were trying to think of some scenario here where a satellite exploding in LEO might have affected geostationary orbit but nope, there isn’t one. space science universe and space station alien science
4. Sandra Bullock would have been screwed pretty early on
When Bullock’s character, Dr. Ryan Stone, gets flung from the Space Shuttle after the space junk impact, she appears to be moving at a pretty alarmingly quick speed. It’s a good 5 or 10 minutes before Clooney makes his way over to pick her up. Would he have found her, let alone catch up with her? Probably not. Although we guess this one isn’t that implausible. space science universe and space station alien science
5. There’s no way to get from Hubble to the ISS easily (especially not with a jetpack)
Yeah, this is the one everyone’s been talking about. The Hubble Space Telescope orbits at an altitude of 559 kilometres (347 miles); the ISS is at 424 kilometres (263 miles). It might not seem that different, but it is. There’s no feasible way to move from the higher orbit of Hubble to the ISS, and especially not in a space jetpack (spacepack? spacejet?) like Clooney does. However, we like to think that maybe, as this was a hypothetical future Shuttle mission that never happened (STS-157 if we remember correctly; the last was actually STS-135 in July 2011), then maybe, in this crazy future orbit-friendly timeline, NASA decided to try and move things like Hubble and the ISS closer together in Earth orbit. This is also absolute crap a good way to explain one of our later quibbles. space science universe and space station alien science