Space Cowboys (2000) Poster



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NASA jargon during the STS-200 ascent:

"Negative Return" means that the Shuttle is beyond the point of being able to return to to the Kennedy Space Center and the Shuttle Landing Facility.

"Two Engines TAL" means that the Orbiter can reach the primary emergency Trans-Atlantic Landing (TAL) site in Merona, Spain even if one of its three Main Engines fails.

"Press to ATO" means that if one engine fails, the crew will make every effort to Abort-To-Orbit instead of landing at the secondary emergency landing site in Zaragoza, Spain. After ATO, it may still be possible to perform the mission as planned if the orbit is close enough to nominal.
In the film, the four astronauts appear together on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1992). To promote the film, they all appeared together on the same show.
Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner are all playing characters in the same age demographic (70's). In actuality, Jones is the youngest member of the group and was only 54 years old when this film was released.
The Bell X-2 was the first airplane to reach an altitude of 100,000 feet and to exceed Mach 3.
NASA offered their "vomit comet" plane that can create weightlessness, for filming (it was previously used in Apollo 13 (1995) for the weightless scenes). Clint Eastwood turned down the offer for fear that the older actors would be made too sick to film.
Originally Sean Connery was supposed to play Jerry O'Neil and Jack Nicholson was supposed to play Tank Sullivan.
The term "Space Shuttle" refers to the whole "stack" of Orbiter + external tank + solid rocket boosters.
The "Asshole Centering Module" is a closed-circuit video system used during ground-based Shuttle astronaut training. It displays a view of the astronaut's posterior to assist in positioning a vacuum nozzle before the astronaut relieves himself or herself.
At the beginning of the film, the young pilots and officers dialogues are voiced-over by the actors playing their older counterparts.
The modeling department put a Space Mr. Coffee in the cargo bay of the shuttle. This was the idea of chief model-maker Adam Savage, now co-host of MythBusters (2003) on the Discovery Channel.
According to film editor Joel Cox, director Eastwood, a notoriously quick director, would routinely film as many as 35 to 40 set-ups in a single day.
The night scenes where Tommy Lee Jones and Marcia Gay Harden are alone together was filmed in the University of Houston - Downtown campus satellite parking lot; permission from the university was needed to film the night scenes. Clint Eastwood met with UHD president Dr. Maximillian Castillo in person in late 1998 before filming began.
Clint Eastwood wrote the theme that plays at the beginning of the movie and it was worked into the score by Lennie Niehaus.
The film opened the Venice Film Festival in 2000.
Tommy Lee Jones is seen wearing a "Cowboy Bar" shirt which is from the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson, Wyoming. This was a favorite bar for Clint Eastwood and where he shot one of his last scenes in Any Which Way You Can (1980).
Chosen by "Les Cahiers du cinéma" (France) as one of the 10 best pictures of 2000 (#09)
Writer Howard Klausner had actually finished the screenplay and was shopping it around Hollywood long before it was announced that astronaut John Glenn would be returning to space.
Warren Beatty was considered for the role of Frank Corvin.
Alun Armstrong was offered the role of Russian Genrael Vostov.
The name is pronounced with a hard 'i'; sounding like "eekon", not "eye-kon". Also, an "ikon" is a feminine noun. Thus, it would be "ikona", pronounced sounding like "eekona".


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The original script called for the IKON orbital weapons platform to be a top- secret NASA project. NASA refused to co-operate with the film's production, unless the script was changed to depict NASA as having no involvement in placing weapons in orbit.
As it approaches the Kennedy Space Center, the Daedalus Orbiter makes a double sonic boom. This is because the Orbiter creates two shock waves, the bow wave and the tail wave, which are heard as separate "booms."

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