Space Cowboys

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: 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.

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.


Factual error: Several times in the film you see astronauts "suit-up" and head straight out the airlock into space. In reality they would have to pre-breathe pure oxygen for forty minutes to purge the nitrogen from their bloodstreams. If they just went straight out they would suffer from "the bends", as divers do.

Factual error: When the super fortress has a near miss with one of the x-plane pilots the pilot should be in free fall and not appearing to float motionless as the super fortress passes by.

Continuity mistake: When Donald Sutherland is getting off the roller coaster to talk to Clint Eastwood. He kisses the woman and then removes his glasses. You then see a shot of the back of his head and his glasses are still on. They then show a shot of his face and they're off.

Continuity mistake: In the opening shot of the NASA people, they are wearing I.D. tags that have the date of 11-99. But just days later Clint Eastwood's tag is a year higher, showing 11-00.

Continuity mistake: The US flag that was in the back-left corner of Gerson's office (between the map and the window) when Colonel Corvin first visits to offer Team Daedelus' service is gone later on, when General Vostov is in Gerson's office. (00:34:25)

Factual error: After bailing out one of the pilots somehow suspends his free fall and is almost hit by the B29 while motionless in midair.

Visible crew/equipment: When Clint Eastwood first enters IKON to power up the panel, you can see a crew member's hand (with a gold ring) to his right. On his way out you can also see a hand and the top of the head of a crew member in the same location.

Visible crew/equipment: Set lights and camera equipment are reflected in Hawk's sunglasses as he speaks with the kid who wants to go up in his plane.


Continuity mistake: On the reentry James Garner is sitting next to Clint Eastwood - it pans away, then comes back, and no one except Clint Eastwood is in the cockpit. Also one shot shows 4 people in seats during the re-entry.

Factual error: Clint Eastwood and Donald Sutherland go scooting around in open space (admiring a view of Italy on the sunlit side of the Earth) with their gold solar-screen visors retracted wide open. To avoid accidental instant blindness, real astronauts would never open their solar-screen visors during EVA on the sunlit side of the Earth; yet the astronauts in this film do it constantly, with no ill-effects.

Charles Austin Miller

Sara Holland: I have never met a kid who didn't dream of being an astronaut when he grew up.
Col. William 'Hawk' Hawkins: Did you ever meet a kid who didn't grow up?

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.

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?


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.

More questions & answers from Space Cowboys

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