Space Cowboys

Team Dedalus finds that the Icon Russian satellite, built during the Cold War, actually hosts 6 nuclear warheads. If it loses contact with the homebase the internal computer thinks that a nuclear war has started and would launch the warheads on some USA city. The only way that they all can get safely back to earth is if Hawk (Tommy Lee Jones), who has a inoperable tumor and doomed to die in a 6 months timeframe, straps himself to the warheads and propels them into space and crashing himself to the Moon.

Elizabeth

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.

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Frank Corvin: You sent us up to this bastard, have us put it back into orbit, fully armed, just to save your own ass?

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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.

The_Iceman

Answer: Eastwood would be out on height alone and the rest probably have high blood pressure. https://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/pdf/606877main_FS-2011-11-057-JSC-astro_trng.pdf.

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.

raywest Premium member

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?

The_Iceman

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.

ReRyRo

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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