Several times a date is shown on the screen when we enter the mission control room. At the same time we hear a voice stating the number of days and hours since mission launch. The dates on the screen don't correspond to the number of days said to have passed between them.
When Dr. Kelloway is trying to convince the astronauts to take part in the faking of the mission, he says that during the Apollo 17 moon shot, "People were callin' up the network and bitchin' cuz reruns of I Love Lucy were canceled." However, the Apollo 17 flight took place in December 1972, while "I Love Lucy" reruns had left the CBS network's daytime schedule for general syndication in 1967, more than five years earlier. Furthermore, viewers generally complain to their local affiliates, not the networks directly, anyway. However, Kelloway may well be saying anything he can think of off the top of his head to convince the astronauts to go along with the deception, and figures none of them follows reruns of old television series enough to catch him out.
When the Learjet takes off after the astronauts escape, the Government car windshield breaks before the jet passes over the vehicle. There are nine holes in the windshield supposedly made by a landing gear; the car is also pointed down the runway from the camera view inside, but the exterior shot the car is parked on an angle.
When the astronauts escape in the jet,they run out of fuel. Having lost a wheel on take off, they have to land with the gear up. But in the landing on the desert floor, it's obvious that the wheels are really down.
The Learjet that the astronauts are transported in, when leaving to rendezvous with the re-entry capsule, appears to be a Lear 24, since it had 2 windows on each side of the passenger compartment. The jet that the astronauts escaped in and landed in the desert was a Lear 23, identifiable by the single window on each side of the passenger compartment. Neither plane exhibited a tail number, required by all aircraft, including government aircraft.
Just before the launch, as a man in a black suit walks across the capsule gantry to open the door and tell the astronauts to "come with me", a crewmember is visible. As the man is opening the capsule door, a crewmember's bare arm is clearly visible on the left helping him open the door. The man is wearing a black suit and the crewmember lending assistance is clearly bare-armed.
When Caulfield looks at the magazines in Alva Leacock's apartment, there is a close up of the address label. The ZIP code is 80144. This is not a Houston ZIP code. All ZIP codes in Houston start with 77.
The Mars lander used in the film was an identical copy of an Apollo Lunar Module. The LM was designed as a true spacecraft - no aerodynamic design was needed to land on the Moon since the Moon does not have an atmosphere. A lander designed for Mars, however, would have to cope with a substantial atmosphere and would therefore look considerably different from that portrayed in the film.
When the astronauts split up in the desert Col Brubaker (Brolin) says he's going West and tells John (Simpson) to go North, and Peter (Waterston) to go South. But actually John goes South and Peter goes North. This error is repeated later by Kelloway (Holbrook) when informed of John's death he tells the searchers to look West and South for Brubaker and Peter, instead of West and North. This all is further proven when each flare is fired; John to Brubaker's left (South) and Peter to his right (North).
A title card at the beginning of the film indicates it is January 4. An onscreen announcer lists the time as three minutes after six, Eastern Daylight Time. Daylight Time normally doesn't begin until April.
They make the point that the crew are so far away that conversation is not possible due to the round-trip delay, so the President gives them a recorded message to play, and yet there is a scene where the wives are brought in to the control room for them to have a chat with their husbands whilst they're still close to Mars.
Several times during the Mission Control scenes, references are made to "the LM crew," although we know the LM as the "Lunar" Module. But just as the real-life NASA renamed the Vertical Assembly Building in the space shuttle era to the Vehicle Assembly Building, keeping the initials, so on a Mars flight they might reuse the initials LM with a meaning such as "Landing Module."
For much of the flight, and in particular during the launch when the astronauts have not yet been informed of the deception, we're told their voices from the spacecraft are simulated by recordings that were made during the practice simulations. This trick would stop working as soon as anything was said to them requiring a reply that had not occurred in the simulations, or as soon as they had any quiet time and would naturally be expected to chat about their present experience.
When reporter Robert Caulfield tells his editor about NASA technician Elliott Whitter's disappearance, he says that Alva Leacock claims to have been living in what he knows to be the other man's apartment "for over a year." Even *if* NASA engaged the connivance of the telephone company to change their own current records, they could not possibly have altered and/or replaced every copy of the telephone directory in the Houston metropolitan area, and just a handful would not only put the lie to Leacock's claim, they would also document Whitter's existence.
When the sun rises behind the launch pad, it is seen to move to the left as it rises. In the northern hemisphere, the rising sun appears to move to the right. The shot is clearly a sunset played in reverse.
When Robert Caulfield (Elliott Gould) is driving the out of control car and crashes it through a bus bench, there are pre-cut lines are visible in the bench before he crashed through it making it splinter more easily.
As the Learjet lands in the desert, one can clearly see that its landing gear is fully intact. It was supposed to look like it was landing with the gear retracted, as landing on three wheels would cause the plane to spin around violently, but the plane is just too high up and the landing is too smooth for it to have been with the gear retracted.
Prior to launch, the VP is sitting in the stands when a NASA official comes over and gives him and his wife some binoculars. In the back ground you can see a mountain. There are no mountains in Florida.