Space Cowboys

New this month 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.

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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.

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Factual error: This line of thinking is repeated twice, once by the NASA scientist and once by the Tommy Lee Jones character: "To get to the moon, you only have to go halfway - gravity will take you the rest of the way". Actually, since Earth's gravity is 6 times greater than the moon's, you would have to go 6/7ths of the way, otherwise you return to Earth.

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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.

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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.

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Factual error: At the end, the russian satelite 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.

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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".

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

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

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

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Deliberate mistake: When the space shuttle is in outer space several explosions and scrapings occur. The audience hears each of these. These sounds would never be created in the first place because space is a soundless vaccum.

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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.

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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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Factual error: The flight director talks directly to the crew several times. In order to avoid a lot of confusing chatter, only CapCom can talk to the crew.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Factual error: They only have a month to train. In that time they would train for the mission and just let a trained pilot/commander fly. Also, they wouldn't take time out from training to go to CA to be on Leno.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Charles Austin Miller

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