Former NASA Astronaut Garrett Reisman now works for Elon Musk at SpaceX. We enjoyed his comments on the reality of the movie “Gravity”. Garrett liked it, here’s some excerpts:
The movie does an outstanding job of capturing what it is like to do a spacewalk – much better than any previous sci fi film. Having done three spacewalks myself, I can tell you – this is legit. The visual impact of having nothing but the glass of your helmet between you and the Earth is captured very well. (Although the Earth is a bit more sharp and vivid in the movie than the real thing. Plus there is almost always an interesting land-mass to look at when in reality you spend most of your time looking down at a less-interesting ocean view.) Also, the movement and physicality of doing a spacewalk is rendered in a very accurate manner. The ease of starting a motion and the difficulty of stopping it in the vacuum of space is captured accurately in many scenes.
It’s amazing how many things “Gravity” gets right. When Sandra Bullock’s character turns the two valves to shut off oxygen flow to the Soyuz – those are exactly the correct valves to turn. When she wants to command the orbital maneuvering engine, the CKD, she pushes the correct button which is also labeled correctly. The interiors of the Soyuz and the International Space Station, are pretty realistic although the various modules are not the correct position.
Garrett has a few quibbles with the physics, such as the energy required to change orbits to match velocity with another satellite, but he summarizes (correctly we think):
But who cares?
All of these inaccuracies were done to help advance the plot or to add drama to the film which is exactly the artistic license we should be willing to grant the filmmakers. This is entertainment, not a documentary.
So, enjoy the whole thing.