Space is back, baby!


I was fortunate to catch the movie ‘Gravity’ this weekend, in 3D, of course. The movie stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, who are two of my favorites. But it wasn’t the ‘star’ power that caught me, it was the other star power: well, the stars, universe, astronauts, space, the final frontier (although I am NOT a trekkie). 

I worked on the International Space Station (ISS) during its design phase in the 1990’s. It was a fun program as the design constraints were so ‘out of this world’, a world without gravity, there were things we had to consider that we wouldn’t normally here on earth.

I was buzzed to see an interior scene of the ISS and warning lights labeled with the modules that I worked on. It even had some appearances that reminded me of the drawings and sketches I was privy to back then.

I thought they got the movie correct on most levels. I read an article provided by a friend that pointed out the distance between the Hubble telescope and the ISS was fiction in the movie. (As this is a new, just-out movie, I’m trying to be careful with the details so as not to spoil it for everyone else.) But the other details about life without gravity appeared to be dead on.

The intricacies of space exploration and the high risk to life and limb for the astronauts is fascinating to me. For one, to remember those who gave their lives so that the 1960’s space program could continue only to have more young adults put their name in to be part of it (this one included). For another, dealing with weightlessness and lack of force at all (Force = Mass * Acceleration, right?). So when you have no mass, force is zero and then what?

The movie played up this concept in several terrifying scenes demonstrating a gentle push sends matter off into space. Astronaut Alan Shepard hit a golf ball on the moon during his time there. I’ve often wondered, as did my friends and family, how long will that ball circle the moon? Is it still circling? I’m guessing ‘Yes, as long as something didn’t interfere with its flight path.

I also was in awe of the screenwriting, but that’s for another time or actually, a different blog.

Other news articles I’ve read today indicated most of the moviegoers to the flick this weekend were over 40. I find that interesting. Why wouldn’t younger viewers flock to this film? Are the stars of the movie too old to be watched or not as cool as some young starlet? Is it perhaps there are no promises of aliens or blood and guts Jason-types running after them?

Is this part of NASA’s PR problem in getting support for their programs? It’s not ‘exciting’ enough by today’s standards? Have the young adults been so galvanized by the science fiction industry, books, movies and video games, that adventures in space and the technology it takes to make it happen is… boring? 



I really hope not. To do my part, I’ll put up rather than shut up. My kids listen up: want to see a great movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat without aliens and horror? Mom will pay. Let’s do it. 

And you, the parents and over 40’s, do the same.

My younger readers: Try it, you’ll like it. I guarantee it. Open new worlds for yourself and when you hear about cuts to the space program, support it. 

It’s about more than Gravity, after all.


About stemzandroses

I'm an engineer and writer with a built-in need to share my nearly 40 years of experience working in a male-dominated field with the rest of the world.
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