Or "Just what kind of cockamaimy storyline can we write and get some big name guys in here?"
How come these guys only sweat in the middle of their chests?
Synopsis? Four geriatric astronauts are brought out of the proverbial "mothballs" to rescue an old Soviet "communications" satellite, IKON, only to find out they are sent into orbit 1000 Miles up to dismantle EIGHT Nuclear Warheads pointing at DC! Oh No, Mr. Bill!!!! The fabulous acting skills of Eastwod, Garner, Jones, and Sutherland - Four of my personal faves - make this an enjoyable movie, but the real science stated and implied were actually painful!Well, a few errors and/or problems were noticed along the way;
- When the 4 guys, Team Daedalus, walk into the Air & Space Museum of the Smithsonian to meet with with a lady NASA Administrator who, unfortunately becomes a love interest to Jones, is chatting with a field trip of rug rats. The kids ask her two simple questions:
- "Can you jump on a trampoline in space?" Where the hell did that question come from? Anyway, she answers, "Yes, but you'd go up and up and up and you'd NEVER COME DOWN". Hmm... Apparently the science consultants were asleep during this phase of the movie. Two problems with the answer.
- 1st, you CAN'T jump on a trampoline in space. We must keep in mind, there is no real "down". You can PUSH on a trampoline and move in the opposite direction due to a little thing we like to call Conservation of Momentum.
- 2nd, you wouldn't go "up and up and....". This implies that gravity doesn't exist in space! A sorrowfully pervasive attitude in Hollywood. There IS GRAVITY! Everywhere! If an astronaut "jumped" out of the shuttle while in orbit, he'd fall to earth eventually. Simple. End of story.
- "Can you hit a baseball to the moon?" Another award-winning question... She says, "Well, yes! All you'd have to do is hit it half-way there and the gravity from the moon would do the rest." Oh, My painfully pointy head! I almost had a vowel movement when I heard this comment! A good ole stand-by Fizzix problem is to calculate the location of the point(s) between the earth and the moon where an astronaut would be "weightless" because the gravitational forces of the earth and the moon effectively cancel out. It turns out to be about 90% of the distance to the moon from here! We, the weight-lifting steroid-abusing earth, kick the crap out of the moon's puny 98-pound weakling gravity field! It is a "girly-man" field!
However, this ugly scientific lie actually pops up again at the end of the movie when Jones' character takes the Soviet missile "half-way there and let the moon pull me the rest of the way..." U-G-L-Y!
- This Soviet satellite's orbit is 1000 miles above the earth's surface and is decaying at a rate of 8000 meters per day. Stupid! According to astronomer Dr. Phil Plait, an orbit of 1000 miles would be stable for centuries! Also, why are they mixing units - Miles & Meters? A decay of 8000 meters per day is a tramendous decay!
- The shuttle just can't get to it! The maximum range for the shuttle is 900 km, about 560 Miles; that's just over half-way! The shuttle normally orbits at only 300 km. The movie Armaggedon got this wrong too! They even sent shuttles out past the dern moon!
- The IKON has decayed to 1000 miles from a geosynchratic orbit of 22,000 miles; that's where they are. So, these missiles aren't aimed at what they used to be. In fact at less than 5% the original distance, if they fired, they'd just hit whatever they'd hit...
- You hear a Houston guy say, "IKON has left earth's gravitational field" when Jones shoots for the moon. Sorry, ain't no leaving the gravity field. It sorta pervades the Universe. You can get far enough away so that it doesn't have any real effect on you, but that distance is so large, it's not even in this picture.
- As far as Jones aiming and shooting the IKON to the moon... The moon is 240,000 Miles away. They are only 1000 Miles above the earth, remember. He aims at the moon, you can see the moon directly in front of the IKON like it's a gun scope, and fires the rockets. Where is he going? The moon won't be there when he gets there! It took Apollo 11 three days to get to the moon. In three days, the moon will travel a distance of 160,000 Miles! Swing and a Miss!
- Lastly, a pet peeve of Dr. Phil, stars in background shots. There are none in reality so why are they there in Hollywood space flicks? Why can't you see stars in space? Well, you can. However, if you are looking at the surface of the moon or the surface of the shuttle or the surface of a satellite up close in space, the light on it is so bright it actually washes out all the surrounding light from fainter sources like stars. The real NASA pictures taken on the moon show astronauts walking around on the surface of the moon and absolutely NO STARS IN THE BACKGROUND! Check out how many stars you can see around a full moon even on a clear night! One of the reasons meteor shower viewing is so bad many times isn't becaus eof the weather, but because of the presence of the moon! The reflected light actually "pollutes" the surrounding atmosphere and makes the dimmer light from the stars very difficult to see at all...
I spent a Thansgiving a few years back in the Big Apple, New York City, for a few plays and Pubs. While strolling down Broadway at Times Square, I caught the picture below. It's the 100 foot tall electronic billboard outside Kodak Headquarters. Note they have a starry background behind both the moon AND the earth in the inset. Bad! Bad! Bad, Kodak! Now, go to your room and think about what you've done and you just wait till your father gets home!
- Aside - Several great one-liners are contained in this science-based movie.