Apollo 13

Or, "Hanks meets Spielberg"


The following is a list of factual errors from the movie starring Tom Hanks. This is used with permission from the great John L. Hubisz, Physics Department, North Carolina State University.
  1. Jim Lovell's Corvette was blue, not red!!
  2. On Apollo 13, they had '72 Corvette amber turn lights!!
  3. The NASA, "worm" logo appears on a glass door. The logo was not developed until 1976.
  4. An engineer checks an astronaut's addition using a slide rule. Slide rules are not used for addition.
  5. Jim Lovell's license plate is new.
  6. The astronauts point out the Sea of Tranquility while on the dark side of the Moon. It is on the other side.
  7. A technician at the Cape is wearing a Rockwell International logo on his coveralls. The Apollo capsule was built by North American, which did not become Rockwell International until after the Apollo program.
  8. The gantry arms for the Saturn V are released in unison, not one at a time.
  9. During entry, the spacecraft is shown hurtling directly at the Earth. At that angle, it would punch a brief but fiery hole through the atmosphere. It should be aiming toward the horizon.
  10. The paint pattern on the Saturn V is for the test configuration, not the launch configuration.
  11. The astronauts look at their intended landing site while on the dark side of the Moon. It is a good thing they did not land, as there would be no chance at communications with Earth. In addition, it is dark and very cold.
  12. In space, from outside the capsule, propulsion jets do not make any noise.
  13. The priest in the movie is tall and thin and does not say much. He is actually short and plump, wears a toupee, and talks a lot.
"You may certainly use them, but they are not exclusively mine. By now they should be in the public domain. I have passed out various versions of them out to my students since the movie came out. Cite them as "Collected by a bunch of nit-pickers". I knew lots of folks at JSC and the observations pretty much came from them. The priest was my pastor.
Best wishes,
John"