Could that really happen? Retired astronaut Nicole Stott breaks down famous space scenes

By Death Wish Coffee — / Death Wish Coffee Blog

Retired NASA astronaut Nicole Stott breaks down Hollywood space scenes

By Angela Garrity, Guest blogger

Nicole Stott is probably the smartest person in the room, so we're going to take her word when she gives her NASA expertise on famous movie and television scenes that depict what happens in space. In this video from WiredStott breaks down scenes from Spaceballs, Interstellar, Total Recall, and more to answer questions about what really happens in space.

Retired astronaut Nicole Stott sits in a studio watching a clip from the movie Spaceballs

The engineer and retired NASA astronaut knows how to separate fact from fiction when it comes to travel and travel preparation, both on and off the third rock from the sun.

We broke down the movies they discussed and what Nicole thought. Watch the full video below.

Total Recall The cracking helmet scene is fiction. Helmets, gloves and additional spacesuit equipment is actually very durable and does a great job protecting astronauts in space.

Gravity The spacewalk scene in this Hollywood adaptation is mixed in both fact and fiction. The visuals are quite accurate, however, there is not as much chatter, crew members jetpacking around, lack of direction to abort a task, or spinning off into space as they are depicted during this scene.

Crying in space can occur and lack of gravity does make tears float if they leave a tear duct. Kleenex is a must.

Spaceballs Ludicrous speed is fiction. Yes, the shuttle speed applies 3Gs of force onto the body, however, there are no streaming lights nor a gas pedal.

Life Robotic arms are real and used by astronauts. This portrayal of grabbing cargo at the speed shown is quite fictitious, however. The way the astronauts moved from cabin to cabin and the movement of objects in space is quite realistic and Stott seemed very impressed with these visual adaptations.

First Man Astronaut training is grueling, and this envisioning is pretty factual. Multi-axis trainers were used for training years ago, but, they have been replaced by virtual reality simulators for today's space traveler.

Armageddon Training helps prepare astronauts for life outside the planet. The underwater training exercise was pretty spot on with familiarization for weightlessness and working with complex systems. However, oxygen mask removal during aircraft exercises is completely false.

Mission to Mars Would an astronaut remove their helmet in space? Absolutely not. That would be detrimental to an astronaut’s life.

A screenshot of two astronauts in full spacesuits from the Hollywood movie Interstellar

Interstellar The docking a spacecraft in this movie was truly an extreme example of docking in an emergency situation and gets accolades of truth from Stott. Different thrusters are used for different maneuvers. She also speaks to the visual representation of accuracy of the increased load of force felt on the body in this movie.

2001: A Space Odyssey Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not completely true for NASA at this time. They use automated control to accomplish tasks.

Rocketman -  Sharing oxygen in a spacesuit isn’t portrayed truthfully, as the suits aren’t flexible to allow this. Primary life support systems are built into each spacesuit and allow oxygen to flow for each donner.

Event Horizon The Airlock scene depicted in this film shows an extreme situation, similar to that captured in Mission to Mars. Hollywood strikes a false narrative of space travel yet again.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock A self-destruct button does not exist onboard, but the range safety team does have this capability to use if the need ever arises. The controlled flight is very real and discussed during flight training.

Space Cowboys G force training in this motion picture is experienced on a trip taken on the centrifuge. The 3G experience is valid. 

Alien: Resurrection Being sucked into space is factually accurate, as space is a giant vacuum. The same experience can occur on an airplane. Holes are bad news because depressurization occurs quickly. 

Stott gives a great breakdown of separating fact from fiction in all of these portrayals surrounding outer space, because of her amazing career with NASA. Stott was featured in this episode of Fueled By Death Cast. She has a brilliant mind and we are thankful she takes residence in our galaxy. Mugs up to you, Nicole!

Related: The strongest coffee in the galaxy


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