Capricorn One

Factual error: The whole conspiracy is doomed from the start! They show a Lunar Module on the set representing Mars; the astronauts were supposed to use this to 'land' on the Martian surface. This is insane. The Lunar Excursion Module cannot operate in an atmosphere; it would burn up on entry. It has no heat shield - the engine nozzle and landing legs would have to poke through it if it had. Exterior protrusions like antennae and steering engines would burn off during descent through the Martian atmosphere. While Mars' atmosphere is thin, it is still more than sufficient to burn up a Lander designed this way. All three recent Mars Landers, Spirit, Opportunity, and Phoenix, had heat shields and parachutes to facilitate safe re-entry. This is not a radical redesign of the LEM; it simply cannot be the shape it is if it is to work in an atmosphere. Any schoolkid would know that, and the world's media would not be fooled for a second.

Factual error: If one person (at NASA) was able to calculate the distance between the returning Mars capsule and Earth based on their radio signals, then everyone with basic radio receiving equipment would be able to. The Russians routinely track American spacecraft and publish details of their trajectory in Pravda, and amateur astronomers throughout the world do so, too. This all comes from triangulation of their radio signals. There is no way that NASA could hide this simple fact from their worldwide audience.

Factual error: In the beginning of the movie, a Saturn V is seen representing the launch vehicle that will take Capricorn One to Mars. This is downright ridiculous. A Saturn V's third stage (that would insert into orbit and make the injection burn) does not have nearly enough Delta-V to make a Trans-Martian Injection from low Earth orbit.

Factual error: A round-trip voyage between Mars and Earth would take about two years. Although the movie's timeline is compressed, from when the astronauts supposedly leave Earth to them supposedly returning (and dying) and then Caulfield rescuing Brubaker, the entire plot implausibly takes place in only eight months. It is mentioned at the memorial that they "left" Earth eight months earlier. The military memorial is held at least a month after the "tragedy" so that would mean they made the trip in seven months, which is impossible. The film is not set in the future when technology would be more advanced.

raywest Premium member

Plot hole: When the three astronauts escape and steal the Learjet, they could get on the aircraft's radio and announce themselves, at least on the Mayday frequency if not to a control tower somewhere.

Our_Man_Flint

More mistakes in Capricorn One

Walter Loughlin: You're not crazy, I'm crazy. I'm crazy for listening and I'm crazy for saying what I'm about to say. I'll give you twenty four hours to come up with something. Not forty eight. I saw the movie too, it was twenty four.

More quotes from Capricorn One

Trivia: When Hal Holbrook talks to the press after the heat shield separation we see a model Saturn V in the background. An extra stage has been inserted above the S-II second stage and the mission payload appears to have been augmented too.

More trivia for Capricorn One

Question: Okay, so the three astronauts are on the run but only James Brolin makes good his escape. What happened to the other two? They're shown as being caught, but what happened after? Anybody know?

CCARNI Premium member

Chosen answer: It's never stated in the film, however, as the astronauts have been declared officially dead and therefore cannot ever be allowed to contact anybody, they were most likely executed as soon as they were captured.

Tailkinker Premium member

Answer: How were they able to fire their flares, then?

Dave Messer

They both had just enough time to fire their flares when they realised they were about to be captured and that there was no chance of escaping.

raywest Premium member

Answer: O.J. Simpson would have had time to shoot his flare to show he was caught. With Waterson harder to believe, he had climbed the side of the mountain and was just coming to the top with the planes coming into view. Either he would have been dropped and died on way down, not getting the chance to shoot the flare, or he was grabbed from the edge. Unlikely to have time also to shoot the flare before being intercepted.

More questions & answers from Capricorn One

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.