The Public Affairs Office counts down the seconds to launch and says; "3, 2, 1, zero. Ignition!" and then pauses whilst we see the Shuttle's main engines building up thrust, then the Solid Rocket Boosters fire and the stack lifts off. In fact liftoff actually occurs at the zero mark. The main engines ignite a few seconds before zero so that they are at full thrust when the SRBs ignite at T-0 for liftoff.
When Eugene Davis conducts a status poll, he reels off the various references for the flight controllers, but then he also gives a "Go" report himself for each one. What he should be doing is calling each one in turn, e.g., INCO, FIDO, and they then each tell him whether their systems are "Go" or "No-Go".
Tank Sullivan seems to pray unto Saint Mary during a tense moment, saying "Hail Mary, full of grace." Tank, however, is a Baptist minister, not a Catholic; Protestant Christians may revere saints, but do not pray unto them as Catholics do.
Both additional astronauts, Ethan as well as Roger, are unconscious during the landing. However, when these two are thrown out of the Space Shuttle using the rescue system they both clearly are awake and responding.
When the shuttle is landing, you can clearly see the name "Columbia" on the side of the shuttle when the name of the shuttle is Daedalus. In a subsequent shot the name on the side of the shuttle then says Daedalus.
During the training scenes, the astronauts are wearing mission patches on their clothing showing the name "Horizon," and Hawkins identifies the spacecraft as "Horizon" during the landing simulation. However, from the launch scene onward, the vehicle is called "Daedalus" and the crew is wearing a different mission patch.
The space shuttle Daedalus' fuselage markings are inconsistent, both within the film and with the real-life shuttle fleet. The wing markings (NASA "meatball" logo on the left wing, American flag and orbiter name on right wing) match the fleet beginning in 1998, but in some shots the NASA "worm" logotype is shown on the aft end of the payload bay doors, where it appeared prior to 1998 but was removed from the four flight vehicles when their markings were changed. (The "worm" and "meatball" logos never appeared on an orbiter at the same time.) The "meatball" logo should appear aft of the "United States" text on the lower aft fuselage; it appears there in some shots, but not others.
At the church where Tank is preaching the outdoor sign states it is an American Baptist Church. However, when he drops his notes and bends over to pick them up, offering envelopes for the United Methodist Church can be seen on the shelf behind the pulpit next to the hula dancer figurine.
When Frank confronts Bob (James Cromwell) about "setting [him] up" in Bob's office (while Bob's talking to the VP), the clock behind Bob's right shoulder has the second hand at 40" - it never moves during the whole exchange between them.
In the first spacewalk scene, we see the two main characters clearly floating over Sicily and Italy. In the very next shot, a large display shows the courses the shuttle will take on every orbit. None of these orbits show the shuttle coming anywhere near the Mediterranean.
The shuttle uses a standard Earth atmosphere of 78% Nitrogen and 21% Oxygen at 14.7 psi. The space suits use a pure oxygen atmosphere at about 3.5 psi to make the suits less rigid and easier to move around in. Before the astronauts can exit the shuttle in their space suits, they must spend several hours to purge the Nitrogen from their bloodstreams ("pre-breathing") as the suit pressure is gradually reduced and the oxygen content is slowly increased, otherwise the rapid pressure reduction would cause gas bubbles in their bloodstreams ("the bends"). The astronauts could not have entered and then re-exited the shuttle as quickly as shown in the film, since they skipped this vital safety step.
When becoming aware the satellite has problems, it is at 1000 miles. It is supposed to be sent back to geostationary orbit (where it presumably came from) but that's more than 20,000 miles higher. That descent is inconsistent with the rate of orbital decay presented in the movie. Also, the Space Shuttle operates at orbits of at most a few hundred miles.
When Bob Gerson gives Frank Corbin Hawk's medical file showing that Hawk has pancreatic cancer, the document that shows the diagnosis is an electrocardiogram (EKG). That device is used to measure the electrical activity of the heart (that's the squiggly lines with peaks and valleys you see as Frank looks over the document before zeroing in on the diagnosis); not a test for cancer. Such a diagnosis would never be put on an EKG for any reason.
When discussing the space toilet, the instructor says that they should make a seal between the funnel and their skin, which is incorrect. Male astronauts are trained not to make a seal; rather, to urinate from a couple inches away from the funnel. The female funnels are designed with small holes at the rim to allow airflow.
Sarah is present before and during the shuttle launch, moments later she appears at mission control. The shuttle launch site for NASA is in Florida and only controls through initial launch. Mission control is in Houston, which is over 800 miles away.
The countdown clock they show in the movie is digital. The actual one at the space center is the same one that's been there since its inception. It is a historical landmark. It uses bulbs and is an older style countdown clock. The one in the movie appears to be much newer in technology.
In the first space walk, Hawk is in free fall (i.e., "floating" in space) when he grabs a large lever and pulls it to open the hatch of the Soviet satellite. Unless he was attached to something massive when he did that, he would have rotated opposite the direction of the lever's rotation. Instead the lever moves but he doesn't. U.S. astronauts are equipped with special tools designed to account for the free fall environment. (The term "floating" is not strictly correct because it is not a fluid's buoyancy that permits astronauts to move freely in orbit. It is because they and the objects near them are constantly falling towards earth but their tangential speed is high enough to keep them in orbit.)
The space suit used for EVAs has dirt on the soles of the feet, but such a suit would not be worn anywhere except for the short distance from where the astronaut dons it to the hatch and then space - none of which would have had any appreciable amount of dirt with which to soil the soles.
When the guys are discussing the problem of bringing the damaged shuttle back they list lots of problems. When Clint Eastwood says he'll bring it back in he's told all the problems plus "you'll have to do it dead stick." Dead stick means no engines running so this shouldn't be a problem since all shuttle landings are dead stick.
Any satellite in geostationary orbit would not drift to a low Earth orbit in any realistic amount of time. Even with the mass mentioned, the Ikon in a 1000 mile high orbit would probably stay up for centuries.
When Hawk launches the missile platform toward the moon, he aims straight for it. Due to the moon's orbit around the Earth, that would result in the moon shifting considerably in position before Hawk would ever have got there. In order to hit the moon, the platform would have to be aimed further along the moon's orbit.
During their training, the astronauts practice a simulator landing of the shuttle during what appears to be a very heavy thunderstorm. Since the shuttle orbiter would be greatly damaged by such an approach, NASA waves off any landing attempt if there is inclement weather anywhere within 30 miles of the landing location. It would be highly unlikely astronauts would even train for such a landing.
The interior shots of the orbiter show a ladder between the flight deck and mid-deck. During flight there is no ladder installed, as it would reduce useable space in the mid-deck and isn't necessary for moving between the decks in zero-G.
Updating Sara Holland on the status, Davis says, "ICON has left our gravitational field." Gravitational fields do diminish with displacement from the source, but it is not possible to leave a gravitational field at any distance.
When Gerson makes the surprise announcement that a chimp will be the first to go into space, the four Air Force pilots, Corvin, Hawkins, O'Neill, and Sullivan, are wearing A-2 leather flying jackets. While leather jackets were authorized before and during World War II, by 1958 they were no longer a part of the Air Force uniform. Leather jackets were re-introduced into the Air Force in 1988. Navy pilots continued to wear leather jackets during the 1950s, but none of the characters in this movie were Navy pilots.
At the beginning of the movie, young Hawk comments about parachuting from 112,000 feet (in 1958). At that time, the actual record was held by Joseph Kittinger, who made his world-record high altitude parachute jump from 102,800 feet on 16 August 1960. That record stood for 52 years.
The final scene shows Hawk leaning back against a rock, air tank and makeshift chair nearby, marks in soil indicating he dragged himself to his current position. Hawk had no way to control his decent. An object dropped from only 10 miles up would impact the surface at 511 MPH. Even if the EMU was fully charged it wouldn't be able to reduce his decent by any significant amount.
While Jerry desperately needs his glasses for everything, including reading, on board of the shuttle he does some fine tuning on a computer panel without his prescription (sun) glasses. This is not unusual since glasses (including distance, reading, and progressive lenses) have a definite "starting" distance for proper focus. Many people who read glasses remove them for up close work. When Jerry is working on the panel and also using the calculator, he's working just a few inches from his nose, much closer than a person normally reads at. This is to adjust for his vision problems and be able to focus on things up close.
A geostationary equatorial orbit would be the worst choice among commonly used orbits for a weapons platform. The satellite always remains over one point on the Earth, and the weapon would have to travel at least 22,000 miles after firing, providing more time for it to be detected. A low polar orbit would provide a much shorter travel time for the weapon, would pass over all parts of the Earth's surface twice a day, and would also have been easier to reach from the USSR. Which is exactly why the Soviets, wanting to put a weapons platform *secretly* on a satellite, might choose one intended for a geostationary equatorial orbit rather than a low polar orbit.
A nuclear weapon to be kept in a low polar orbit could be designed with only a small retrorocket and a heat shield, but since the satellite would pass near a particular target only twice a day, it might take many hours before it could be launched. Large rocket motors like an ICBM's, as depicted in the film, would be militarily sensible since targeting would be much more flexible and the weapon's travel time after launch would also be shorter. And with the weapon in a high orbit, as indicated in the film, large rockets would be required to reach the surface at all.
During the landing simulations, you can hear jet engines shutting down after the touchdown, but the shuttle doesn't have any engines - jet or otherwise - during landing. It's not the sound of jet engines - it's the hydraulic motors moving the simulator.
It takes considerably more delta-vee to soft-land on the moon from earth orbit than it takes to escape earth entirely and enter solar orbit. This could have been done by simply firing the rockets in a horizontal orientation and in the orbital plane. No piloting would be required after this point.
The "new" space shuttle on which Corvin and his crew fly their emergency STS-200 mission is named "Daedalus," the same name as Corvin's team from 1958. This is not revealed to the audience until just before the launch. During the preceding training scenes, however the crew can be seen wearing mission patches showing the name "Horizon," and Hawk refers to the vehicle as "Horizon" during the landing simulation. Whether the name of the orbiter itself was changed (and the vehicle re-marked) from "Horizon" to "Daedalus" in honor of Corvin's team, or whether the mission was originally intended to fly on a different orbiter called "Horizon" and reassigned to the orbiter "Daedalus," is never explained. If the "new" orbiter was already named Daedalus when it was rolled out, well before STS-200 was planned, no one in the film makes note of the coincidence. Either way, the crew wears different mission patches during the launch and subsequent mission scenes; NASA never used separate mission patches for the training and the mission itself, so the "Horizon" mission patches are also never explained.
The chances of even a highly skilled aircraft pilot manually navigating from earth orbit to a soft landing on the moon are negligible. The physics are entirely different, and extensive computer calculations are required.
When Tank Sullivan removes his helmet upon reaching orbit, it floats above him and begins to rotate in one direction, then begins to rotate in the opposite direction. According to Newton's first law, if it started moving in one direction, it would continue to move in that direction unless acted upon by an outside force. In this case, the outside force was that the wire that the helmet is hanging on reached it's maximum torsion and so began unwinding in the opposite direction.