Five things that couldn’t happen in ‘Gravity’

Fans love “Gravity,” but scientists have found some flaws in the film

10/7/2013, 1:52 p.m.
As far as fans are concerned, “Gravity” is out of this world. The Sandra Bullock/George Clooney space thriller set an ...
The Alfonso Cuarón film "Gravity" starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney is thrilling audiences and being criticized by scientists. The space thriller set an October opening weekend record. Warner Bros.

“You can see space flown MMUs today hanging above space-flown shuttle orbiters at the Air and Space Museum and Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex,” Rice wrote. “The MMU was capable only of short bursts to move astronauts around the shuttle, not crossing distances portrayed in the film and certainly not in the time presented. But it was certainly a cool way to get Bullock and Clooney into the second act.”

Bullock’s astronaut is way more adept than she should be

After all the space walking, being flung around and dodging debris, Bullock’s Stone is still able to navigate not just one but two spacecraft from other countries: a Russian Soyuz and a Chinese Shenzhou. It’s amazing, given that Stone points out that she was not the best in training on the United States spacecraft.

“She handles both ships with surprising deftness considering she was only lightly trained on the Soyuz and not at all on the Shenzhou,” Jeffrey Kluger wrote for Time magazine. “And throughout the movie, she and Clooney spend a fair bit of time getting whacked around in space, grabbing onto this or that rail or tether on the shuttle or ISS only at the last second to avoid pinwheeling off into the void. In truth, pressurized space gloves are murderously hard to manipulate, providing only limited grip at best and leaving astronauts’ hands cold and very painful after a day of work. Making the kinds of one-handed Cirque du Soleil catches Clooney and Bullock accomplish would be impossible.”

The Hubble, the International Space Station and a Chinese space station are not neighbors

In the film, Bullock just needs to hop from space station to space station in order to find a refuge from debris and to make it home to Earth. But as the New York Times pointed out, that’s not as easy as it looks.

“As we recall from bitter memory, the Hubble and the space station are in vastly different orbits,” Dennis Overbye wrote. “Getting from one to the other requires so much energy that not even space shuttles had enough fuel to do it. The telescope is 353 miles high, in an orbit that keeps it near the Equator; the space station is about 100 miles lower, in an orbit that takes it far north, over Russia.”

“To have the movie astronauts Matt Kowalski (Mr. Clooney) and Ryan Stone (Ms. Bullock) zip over to the space station would be like having a pirate tossed overboard in the Caribbean swim to London.”

The film’s director, Alfonso Cuarón, seemed fully prepared for the criticism after “Gravity’s” release.

“This is not a documentary,” the director told collectSPACE.com. “It is a piece of fiction.”

Lisa Respers France | CNN