Capricorn One

Plot hole: The "death" of the three astronauts and the requirement to then fake the whole scenario of the failed mission was obviously unplanned - it came about because of an unexpected computer glitch which reported that they had burned up on reentry, causing a mad scramble to cover up the fake mission and kill the astronauts. Obviously it was planned to have the astronauts "return" to Earth as heroes after their supposed trip to Mars, maintaining their deception (under threat if necessary) for the rest of their lives. One problem. Every scientist on earth would be champing at the bit to get their hands on a sample of Martian rock. Samples would be worth billions, worth far more than Moon rocks are worth today. How was NASA going to explain they didn't have any? They could not possibly fake the rocks - Martian soil and rocks would have a number of identifiable characteristics that a smart first year college student could identify. Using Martian meteorites collected from the Earth's surface won't work, either - prolonged exposure to the Earth's atmosphere would leave tell tale weathering and chemical changes that would be instantly detectable. NASA have painted themselves into a corner and that is not something they would have failed to realise well in advance.


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Suggested correction: They could use meteors that had landed on Earth. This is one of the theories for the "faked" moon landing, that they either created the moon rocks from scratch, or collected meteors. As for the death of the astronauts, that's not a plot hole, it's the plot of the movie; the powers that be wanted the men to fake everything and return as heroes. When they wouldn't play along, it was decided they needed to be eliminated.

It is clear from the narrative of the film that it was planned that the astronauts would "land" safely. Using meteorites would not work - exposure to the Earth's atmosphere would mean (and has meant) that the rocks would show weathering and chemical changes that anyone would be able to detect.

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.


Plot hole: Further to the comments about the Lunar Lander being useless as a Mars Lander - who is going to believe that three men spent eighteen months crammed into a tiny Lunar Command Module? Not only would they go out of their minds, where would they store the tonnes of water and food they would need in that tiny capsule? How could the Service Module carry enough oxygen or have enough battery power to make the trip?

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Suggested correction: You're assuming they travelled from Earth to Mars in the lander alone. The astronauts didn't do this when they went to the moon. The Lunar Lander was attached to the command module during the 3-day journey. When the astronauts reached the moon, they detached the lander from the command module and landed on the surface. It is reasonable to believe the astronauts for Capricorn One did the same thing, except on a much bigger ship for a journey that lasted over a year. We just never saw it.

Mike Lynch

The posting did not refer to the Lunar Lander, it referred to the tiny Lunar Command Module, the only part of the Saturn V that returned to Earth. From 44:00 to 48:08 of the film we see a live broadcast, supposedly from Martian orbit, showing all three astronauts crammed into a Lunar Command Module. The posting is absolutely correct.

This is another Deus ex Machina explanation for a blatant film mistake. The astronauts launched into orbit in a standard Saturn V rocket which could not possibly carry anything like a spacecraft large enough to make the trip to Mars. There is nothing in the film to suggest that there was a "much bigger ship" involved.

They are also shown seated in the tiny Apollo command module, supposedly transmitting messages from orbit around Mars. The posting is absolutely correct.

You're assuming the astronauts were launched in a standard Saturn V rocket, but with all the resources needed for a journey to Mars that took 18 months round trip, NASA would have to send them on a larger rocket to accommodate the required oxygen, water, food, spare parts, supplies, etc. needed to bring them back safely.

Mike Lynch

Did you watch the film? From 1:54 to 2:25 we see an establishing shot of a perfectly ordinary Saturn V rocket on the launch pad. From 6:05 to 6:43 we see all three astronauts strapped into the tiny, Lunar Command Module. As has already been pointed out from 44:00 to 48:08 we see a live broadcast, supposedly from Martian orbit, showing all three astronauts crammed into a Lunar Command Module. There is absolutely no mention of a larger spacecraft and none is ever shown.

Plot hole: For such a well-financed, well-organised bunch of ruthless killers the people who try to clean up the mess that NASA leaves behind seem to have the intelligence of a cheese sandwich. 'Disappearing' one of their employees - the one who works out the discrepancy in the triangulation of the radio signals - is an obvious necessity but replacing him with a woman who claims to have lived in his apartment for years is stupid beyond explanation. The reporter knows that she is lying - it's as if they wanted to confirm that his suspicions of a conspiracy were true (and hence worth investigating). What is to stop him checking with the man's neighbours, or local shops? What about his bank, credit card suppliers, utility companies, friends and family who would have been in contact with him at that address? What about the landlord, or the mortgage company, or vehicle or driver's licence registration? What about the local electoral roll? There would be official records going back to the day he moved in to the apartment, and neither NASA nor their hired killers could have accessed all of that information even if they knew about it.

Plot hole: After the astronauts escape in the plane and has to make a crash landing, James Brolin's character says that he will head west, OJ Simpson's character should head north, and Sam Waterson's character to go south. If Brolin is INDEED walking west, then north would be to his right, but Waterson heads that way (instead of south) and Simpson heads the other way (instead of north). A few minutes later when Simpson is killed, the flare goes off on Brolin's left side (south), instead of north. And the same for Waterson.

Plot hole: Somehow, Elliot Gould and James Brolin drive several hundred miles through a desert and halfway across the country in Gould's car (a Datsun 280-Z)in a matter of a few minutes, to arrive at Brolin's supposed funeral in Houston, Texas revealing the conspiracy. I used to own a 280-Z and they are not that fast.

Kit Sullivan

Plot hole: How did Brubaker and Caulfield make it past the secret service into the graveyard for the crowd to see them? If the President and Vice President are in the graveyard for a funeral there certainly would be heavy security. Especially disheveled, without identification, bringing in a civilian vehicle that could conceivably be used as a weapon in a crowd.

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.


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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.

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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.

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