Visible crew/equipment: As Ellie runs up the stairs of the observatory after hearing the first audio transmission from space, she runs towards doors with two large glass windows in them. As she opens the doors, a crewman/cameraman is visible in the right window for a brief fraction of a second.
A religious fanatic with a bomb strapped to his body breaches security and destroys the transport machine. Dr. David Drumlin, who was chosen over Ellie to make the trip, is killed. Unknown to Ellie, the U.S. government secretly built a second transport machine on Hokkaido Island in Japan. She is chosen to go and travels through a wormhole to Vega. There she meets an alien who appears to her in the guise of her dead father. He tells her that his species did not build the machine, but it was already there when they arrived. Many other species have made contact. Ellie wants to stay and learn more but the alien sends her back, telling her that in time humans will take another step in communicating with them. Ellie returns to Earth. From her perspective the trip lasted about 18 hours, but from the point-of-view of those on Earth, she never left and was only out of contact a few seconds earth time. Not a trace of data was videotaped to prove her trip was real, and many consider her story a hallucination and the machine a total flop. Even Ellie concedes it may not have happened--except the video recording doesn't show seconds of static, but about 18 hours of it. Where was she during that time?
Question: In the few seconds (Earth time) it took for the pod to fall through the time travel device, it would have been impossible for Ellie to have become detached from the safety seat. It would have been even less possible for the seat to have become dislodged from the pod, AND for the seat to smash against the side of the pod with sufficient force crush it. I understand there was a cover-up (e.g., the 18 hours of static on her recording device), but Ellie, herself, would have remembered the dislodged, smashed seat. Why did she never bring it up in defense of her version of the facts? Was there a reason someone knows of, or is this just a plot hole?
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