Space Cowboys

Revealing mistake: While the guys are going for their physicals, there's a scene in which blood is drawn and you can clearly see the tube connected to the end of the syringe pumping fake blood into the container.

Visible crew/equipment: You can see reflections of film crew and lighting boards in Clint Eastwood's sunglasses several times during the scenes where he is gathering the old members of team Daedalus.

Continuity mistake: During the climactic landing sequence at the end, the point of view shifts rapidly from head-on to alongside and back. Watch carefully at the first side-on view just as they're touching down; the nose of the shuttle says "Columbia". When it switches to the next head-on view, the wings say "Daedalus".

Factual error: A couple of times during the film, someone exclaims in horror that if this-or-that system fails, they will have to land the shuttle dead-stick (unpowered; no chance to veer off and try again). Actually, all shuttle landings are dead-stick; they are computer guided but nevertheless are unpowered, one-shot deals.

Factual error: The X-2 only had one seat. In fact, I don't believe there were any two-seater "x-planes".

Factual error: At the end, the Russian satellite is aimed straight at the moon. It couldn't have been done that way, and if they did aim at the moon, they would have had to aim to where it would be in 3 days.

Continuity mistake: When Frank is stopped in the lobby after leaving Gerson's office if you look out the window behind Frank you see a couple walk by, a woman in a light suit and a man next to her. The shot than shifts to Gerson and back to Frank, you again see the couple walking by, within 30 seconds.

Factual error: In the shuttle landing sims, the pilot is flying, not the commander.

Continuity mistake: When the rockets blasted on the Russian satellite, it should have cleared all the debris surrounding it.

Factual error: In many scenes in space, the stars are shown twinkling or flickering. This occurs only when seen through an atmosphere.

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Suggested correction: Stars also twinkle or flicker due to intervening interstellar gas clouds, so this is no error.


Factual error: At one point, the rotating solar power panels on IKON slam into the Shuttle, wrapping around the nose. That's bad for the astronauts! The tiles all over the Shuttle are used to absorb the tremendous heat of reentry. They are also very brittle. An impact like that would have torn them off by the hundreds, making reentry impossible.

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Suggested correction: The nose was Reinforced Carbon Carbon, or RCC, like the leading edge wing. The tiles were further back.

Factual error: Before launch, Flight reads off the names of positions and then "go". During a shuttle launch, Flight reads off the names and the controller checks in with a go/no go.

Factual error: The shuttle re-entry being nose-down could never happen. You had to hit the atmosphere nose-up so the ceramic tiles took the heat.

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Suggested correction: Not totally true, the nose and leading edge wing were RCC and could take 2300°F, just like the tiles on the underside.

Factual error: When they first go EVA to look at the satellite, Eastwood goes into the Shuttle cargo bay to put on his Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU). He goes outside without being tethered at any point. Even when deploying an astronaut in a MMU, the astronaut remained tethered until he was safely mounted into the MMU, then the tether was removed. Upon his return, the astronaut was again tethered before he dismounted the MMU.

Continuity mistake: In the first fifteen minuets of the film, Marcia Gay Harding's ear rings keep vanishing and reappearing.

Factual error: In the opening scene the x-plane approaches at a very high speed and abruptly makes a very sharp turn to climb straight up. Even with pressure suits this high-speed maneuver would not only kill the pilots but snap the wings off the plane as well. X-planes were carried up to high altitudes before their engines were ever lit up. Flying an x-plane at ground level just was not done.

Continuity mistake: The character Jerry, played by Donald Sutherland, snaps off one arm of his sunglasses that the doctor gave him. He uses it to assist him in fixing the door that was jammed shut. When they are suited up and coming back to Earth it shows him with the sunglasses back on from both sides of his head and the arm is on the glasses, not broken off anymore.

Other mistake: During the landing, when Jerry is getting Ethan and Roger out of the shuttle using the escape pole, the two people going out (presumably the stuntmen) look to in fact be jumping out the hatch, instead of just being pushed/thrown by Jerry.

Factual error: The superfortress has a near miss with one of the pilots who has not opened his parachute yet and is therefore still in free fall. As seen from the ground the superfortress would be just a dot in the sky, and the pilot would not yet be visible to the naked eye. Jerry says he saw it happen and he is not even using binoculars - no-one has eyesight that good.

Factual error: The Russian says that the missiles in IKON are locked onto American cities. The implication is that those cities will be destroyed if Eastwood screws up. Actually, since the orbit has decayed from geosynchronous (an altitude of roughly 22,000 miles) to low Earth orbit at 1000 miles, I don't think the missile guidance systems would get a chance to work. If the missiles were launched, they would simply shoot down toward the Earth and blow up wherever they happened to be. So, prayers to anyone unlucky enough to be directly below those missles.

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Suggested correction: Entry states an implication. This may have been inferred by this one viewer, but the movie never stated any such thing, so therefore it cannot be considered an error.


Jerry O'Neill: It's got nothing to do with me.
Jerry O'Neill: It all depends on the woman and how willing she is to discover her infinite supply of orgasms.

More quotes from Space Cowboys

Question: What are the chances of four guys of their age ACTUALLY passing the physical to the required standards? I know they all kept reasonably fit but they struggled with running etc. so it seems unlikely they would pass all the tests. I know movie rules dictate suspense of disbelief to a certain degree, I'm just wondering what their chances would be in reality.


Answer: Eastwood would be out on height alone and the rest probably have high blood pressure.

Chosen answer: It wasn't a matter of how physically fit they were, but that their particular combination of knowledge, skills, and past experiences were needed for this specific mission. The physical criteria would be amended in order to recruit them for that mission.


They were specifically told they wouldn't be given an easier ride and would need to pass the exact same tests as the younger astronauts. The physical criteria wouldn't have been amended to suit them so is it possible for 4 guys of this age to pass?


Remember that at some point in the process it became a political issue - the old cowboys were wanted for their PR value, so physical test results would have been "fudged", if not ignored altogether.


Agree that the physical requirements were a major plot point and part of the 'deal' for the team to go, but there was some relaxing of requirements and politics. In general, the answer is YES, old folks can go to space without major fudging of the requirements as was demonstrated by lots of astronauts in their late 50s, a few in their 60s, and John Genn at 77. Just recently an 82-year-old woman flew on Jeff Bezos' tourist rocket.

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