Factual error: When Sandra Bullock and George Clooney manage to get to the ISS, she gets entangled with some ropes and manages to grab Clooney's safety rope. Clooney's speed should be very close to Bullocks' and the ISS', hence. The parachute ropes should be able to withhold the forces of deceleration (the mass of two people is very small, compared to Soyus or ISS), so no more pulling or having to sacrifice himself... This is due to the fact that there's no drag in space to constantly change Clooney's velocity (revert to Newton's First Law).

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Suggested correction: The parachute ropes are of course strong enough to hold the relatively low kinetic energy of the drifting astronauts, but that is not the reason why Clooney detaches. The rope is not attached firmly to Bullocks' leg. There are some loops loosely wrapped around her leg, and while both astronauts are still drifting away from the ISS (seen in a shot a few seconds earlier), those loops slip away from the foot one by one. Before the last loop slips away from the foot, untethering and condemning both astronauts, Clooney detaches himself to lessen the kinetec energy that pulls on the rope by reducing the total mass of the "system of two astronauts", so that there is a better chance that the last loop will remain attached to Bullock.

Once Clooney had stop moving all that would have been need was a slight pull from Bullock to pull him towards her. The momentum was lost when he stopped moving. So no need to cut himself loose.

It all happens in free fall. As soon as the cord withstood inertia resulting from George's body mass pulling on it, George would bounce back towards Sandra. The entire scene was completely unrealistic.

Clooney stopped moving in relation to Bullock. But both were still moving in relation to the ISS (look at the scene again; there is a wide shot that establishes this), with both their masses pulling on the parachute cords, straining the tenuous connection of the cords looped around Bullock's foot. To lessen the strain, Clooney detaches itself from the two-astronaut-system, reducing the mass and kinetic energy pulling on the cords.


Clooney and Bullock - when they were connected to each other - never actually stopped moving in relation to the ISS.

Actually parachute cords can withstand hundreds of pounds of force, making them very difficult to snap.

The danger wasn't the ropes snapping, the danger was that they would slip off her foot, and they would both be lost to space.


Factual error: When Ryan enters the space station and removes her spacesuit, she is shown wearing only a tank top and boy shorts. In reality, according to NASA's official webpage, astronauts wear a liquid cooling and ventilation garment and an absorption garment (space diapers) under their suit. (00:38:45)


Factual error: The shuttle's original mission was to service Hubble, yet when the shuttle is wrecked, Kowalsky moves with Stone to the ISS, which just happens to be "a short hike away." Hubble orbits at an altitude of 350 miles/560km, while the ISS does so at an altitude of about 250 miles/410km. Furthermore, even if they had been able to see the ISS from Hubble's orbit, they would have only seen it speed ahead, as their orbital velocities are very different: 7.66km per second for the ISS and 7.5km per second for Hubble. (00:23:20)

The Nachoman

Factual error: When the Chinese space station is de-orbiting, and the atmosphere is stripping parts off the outside, Dr Ryan Stone is inside with objects floating about her. In reality, there would be a small deceleration caused by the atmospheric drag that would pull all objects to the front of the craft. (01:14:30)

Tim Johnson

Factual error: In the scene when Sandra Bullock is about to turn off the oxygen, a couple of tears leave her eyes and float up. They would actually form in a small puddle on her eye. (00:59:45)


Factual error: When Stone makes her transfer from the Soyuz emergency escape system to the Chinese Station, she takes 3+ minutes from fastening her helmet to being inside the station. Her space suit does not include an oxygen supply. Only residual air (from the Soyuz spacecraft) is available to her, and a lot of action occurs. She couldn't do it. Too long a time, too little air. The Sokol spacesuit portrayed is intended for intra vehicular operation and requires external sources of oxygen and ventilation to be functional (as depicted in scenes before). (01:10:10)


Factual error: No critical communications satellites orbit at 400-600km above the Earth (where most of the film takes place). They are either at 200km or about 35000km. This means that the field could not have knocked out the communications with Houston. (00:01:20)


Continuity mistake: Just after Matt retrieves Ryan, Matt tells her to set her watch timer for 90 minutes, which she then does. A shot is then shown of Ryan's arm adjusting the watch timer to 90 minutes and the time on the watch reads 00:32. Later on, when Ryan is in the Soyuz capsule, she looks at her watch and says "Seven minutes to get out of here." It is shown that the time on her watch reads 02:21 (1h 49m later) but the timer reads 7 minutes and 26 seconds left of the 90 minutes. (00:19:10 - 00:46:30)

Casual Person

Factual error: Ryan states to Matt that her O2 pressure is low (which is the oxygen in her suit) just as they are about to reach the International Space Station and Matt points out she still has oxygen in her suit. Then as Ryan and Matt launch themselves onto the International Space Station, Ryan keeps panicking, hyperventilating and breathing heavily for the next few minutes and eventually she runs out of O2 as she starts to climb into the station. If Ryan only had CO2 in her suit and she had been heavily breathing for that long, she would definitely have run out of oxygen within a minute, she would never have gone this long without it. (00:28:30 - 00:32:50)

Casual Person

Gravity mistake picture

Continuity mistake: After the rope keeping Ryan and Matt tethered together is snapped, Ryan continues drifting downwards towards the Earth. The shot continues panning until the camera stops with the camera high up. As she falls, the ropes from the parachute around the satellite are on Ryan's right. In the next shot from low down, the ropes from the parachute have moved to Ryan's left. She was only shown spiralling downwards throughout the shot, so her position next to the ropes would not have been affected. (00:30:25)

Casual Person

Factual error: During the first few minutes, before all the comsats get taken out by the debris storm, conversation between Houston and the Space Shuttle include Quindar tones. Quindar tones are the sharp beeps attending each voice transmission. These tones are obsolete and haven't been used for many years. (00:01:10)

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Suggested correction: Is still used on the UHF channels. At least up till the shuttle missions.

Factual error: When Ryan, and Matt reach the space station, they cause the space tether rope to break. This could not have happened in real life. Space tether ropes are very difficult to break even with hundreds of pounds of force.

Continuity mistake: On the way to the ISS, Matt asks Ryan where's home. Ryan replies "What?" and Matt says "Down there. Mother Earth." Behind Matt as he says this is the rope keeping Matt and Ryan tethered together drifting around. At the end of the shot, the part of the rope shown in front of Ryan is shown to be drifting around differently to when it cuts to a shot of Ryan. (00:25:00)

Casual Person

Continuity mistake: Just as Ryan and Matt are about to bump into Shariff's body, the POV shot of Ryan shows Ryan shielding her face with her hands. It can be noticed her right hand is positioned in a shifted 10 o'clock direction. Instantly as soon as the next shot starts, her right hand is now in a 12 o'clock direction, not shifted at all. (00:20:30)

Casual Person

Factual error: When Ryan is in the ISS emergency capsule, she talks bi-directionally with the earth. But radio is a unidirectional technology where you have to push a button for talking or use a VOX technology. Simply talking both-ways like using a mobile phone is not possible. But she is talking while we can hear the remote voices. (00:55:30 - 00:56:22)

Factual error: When Ryan is undoing bolts with the tool she is turning them the wrong way meaning all the bolts must have been left hand thread which would not be normally the case. Also, when she closed a valve on the outside of the capsule she turned it the wrong way which would have been opening the valve.

Continuity mistake: When Ryan and Matt reach the ISS, as Ryan says "Wait, you have to brake!" the ISS is visible from the POV of Ryan. About two shots later, another shot of the ISS is from Ryan's POV, only now they are way further away from the ISS than they were two shots previously. The second shot may appear a bit confusing because it is at a different angle, but they are definitely much further in the second shot. (00:29:40)

Casual Person

Continuity mistake: Right at the end, when Ryan's pod lands, in the beginning, there are hardly any plants, but, in the next shot, there are lots of plants; the same with land, one second she's far away from land, but then, suddenly, she's right near it. (01:21:10)


Audio problem: In several scenes, Sandra Bullock used radio equipment in efforts to call for assistance. There is a sound made by vintage, mechanically tuned radios called "heterodyning" that results in a squealing, variable frequency sound in the speaker. While heterodyning added a degree of drama to the scenes in "Gravity", contemporary radios operate on a different, highly stable technique for tuning, and do not produce heterodyne sounds. (00:13:15 - 00:41:00)

Audio problem: Ryan is on the International Space Station and looking through the window in an attempt to communicate with Matt. During this transmission, Ryan says "Please talk to me. Please." When she says "Please" the second time, her lips move before the word can be heard. Her lips are very visible through the reflection of the window. (00:42:15)

Casual Person

More quotes from Gravity

Question: How was Ryan able to swim after the capsule splashed down in the water? Isn't readjusting to earth's gravity pretty difficult when you've spent a long time in space?

Answer: Swimming does not have the same gravity related constraints that walking on land has. It is not until she is on land where she shows signs of facing difficulties with the Earth's gravity. Also, when she swims up to the surface, she is rushing so she doesn't drown and in doing so, uses up most of her energy because she has been in space and is only now readjusting to Earth's atmosphere, so when she is above water and swimming over to land, she visibly shows signs of being exhausted and out of breath as she used up most of her limited energy attempting to swim up to the surface.

Casual Person

Swimming still has gravity related constraints, though right?

Gravity pulls water towards the earth, yes. But for a swimmer, the water provides buoyancy and supports them. The closest thing you can come to weightlessness on Earth (not including the flight training where they take you into a plane that glows up then drops) is in water, because it floats you.

She is swimming up to the surface at the fastest speed she can, so she doesn't drown. Perhaps there are some gravity related constraints to her swimming, but she is trying to fight against it so she can get to the surface. When she is above the surface and swimming/floating back to the shore, she is visibly exhausted, so it is apparent that she used up most of her energy in trying to fight against the gravity related constraints.

Casual Person

Answer: The movie opens with a servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on the Space Shuttle - which had already been decommissioned for two years by the time the movie came out, but we'll let that slide. Because the Shuttle was powered by fuel cells that had a limited supply of hydrogen, it meant that realistically, Space Shuttle missions rarely exceeded two weeks in space, with an absolute maximum of 17.5 days. Two weeks in microgravity is not enough to cause significant loss of muscle and bone density, so Dr. Stone would be able to swim just fine. If you look up old footage of the astronauts disembarking the Shuttle after landing, you'll see they mostly walked out and down the stairs on their own.


Answer: Yes.

More questions & answers from Gravity

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