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NASA Astronaut Talks "Gravity," Spacewalking, ISS

timothy posted 1 year,19 days | from the best-view-of-earth dept.

Space 97

Nerval's Lobster writes "The upcoming movie Gravity features a pair of astronauts (George Clooney and Sandra Bullock) stranded in orbit after their space shuttle is destroyed by floating debris. Faced with dwindling oxygen levels, they struggle to reach the nearby International Space Station (ISS). It's a movie, so some deviations from reality are expected, but it also opens up an opportunity to talk with a NASA astronaut about what it's like to live in space. Catherine 'Cady' Coleman, who has spent thousands of hours aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia and the International Space Station, who gave Bullock advice on the role, suggests that the real NASA has the whole orbital-debris issue well in hand, but that it takes a lot of training (and on-the-job experience) to get the hang of living in space. 'When we get up to space and the people up there run around and show us stuff — that's really, really effective and there was nothing like that compared to the classroom.' Despite the physical and mental demands, and the the time spent away from family, she sees the endeavor as supremely worth it. 'We're all very privileged to do this job,' Coleman says. 'They spend a lot of money making you ready, and you have a responsibility to do your job.'"

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Won't come close to Apollo 13 (5, Informative)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,19 days | (#45029509)

Ron Howard really set the standard ages ago when they filmed large portions of Apollo 13 in actual zero gravity.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (3, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | 1 year,19 days | (#45029567)

They've got it easier here, they spend most of the movie in their suits in open space. Relatively trivial to do with CGI these days and it's a heck of a lot cheaper than 15 trips on the vomit comet.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,19 days | (#45029619)

And it'll look only slightly more realistic than The Reluctant Astronaut.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

Longjmp (632577) | 1 year,19 days | (#45029839)

It can't be worse than Mission to Mars. This was the only movie so bad it made me angry.

(I bet Tim Robbins was on his knees begging to get written out early after he realized what shit he was in)

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

firex726 (1188453) | 1 year,18 days | (#45032525)

IDK man, Red Planet wasn't much better with it's alien bugs crawling all over Mars making air that we somehow missed after a ton of observations and probes.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

dbIII (701233) | 1 year,18 days | (#45033487)

Which is quite odd really, since so much work went in to get some things right (eg. the rotating set like in 2001) only to be spoiled by some utterly stupid shit.
I think it's a good example of how Hollywood can have a pile of perfect work from experts and then fuck it all up by putting an cocaine fuelled ego in charge.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

doti (966971) | 1 year,18 days | (#45036521)

I liked Mission To Mars [imdb.com] .

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030435)

The best thing about the movie Apollo 13 was the attention to every detail; the old cabinet TV with Walter Cronkite, the clothes, the music... As to the movie "Gravity" I submitted this, [slashdot.org] which linked Ms. Ivin's full review of the movie. [time.com] If you see it in the firehose, don't vote it up as it would be a dupe at this point.

Ivin is a self professed sci-fi fan and "one of the original Trekkies".* An engineer and a Trekkie? I'll bet she's lurking here now, probably has a 3 digit UID. A snippet of her review:

My first take was to itemize the errors. The vehicles are in impossible orbits -- wrong altitudes, wrong inclinations. The backpack maneuvering unit has a nearly infinite amount of fuel and comes superchargedâ"but only until the plot requires it suddenly to run out. Space stations seem to retain pressure in their various modules despite coming apart at the seams. You can apparently close an outward opening hatch against exiting pressure with one hand.

She did have a lot of good things to say about it.

If you have a GF this is most likely a movie you can take her to since it's Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

* Sometimes it's great being a geezer, I got to see TOS when it was brand new and flat screen monitors, "communicators", self-opening doors, etc were just fantasies. A young friend envied me when I described hearing Led Zeppelin for the first time, as John Bonham was dead before he was born.

I live in a science fiction fantasy, except it's all real now. You guys grew up with computers, computers grew up with me. [kuro5hin.org]

You guys will see things even science fiction writers haven't thought of.

Oops... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030453)

Different astronaut. Maybe it wouldn't be a dupe?

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (4, Funny)

nherm (889807) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030821)

If you have a GF this is most likely a movie you can take her to since it's Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

My girlfriend is a rocket scientist, you insensitive clod!

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,18 days | (#45037095)

Women rocket scientists love Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, AND science fiction. You'll get laid for sure!

This type of criticism has some problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45030881)

Of course the maneuvering unit is going to run out when the plot requires it. Otherwise there is no plot and no movie. So that on its face is a stupid thing to say. Supercharged as in they don't show them stopping and taking a break? Oh the horrors, they didn't add another two, four, six or eight hours of in and out of the airlock to the movie. Downright criminal. Astronauts train for a year or two, Sandra Bullock's character only had 6 months, isn't that just a tad nit-picky? I'm not saying there aren't legitimate criticisms to be made, but some people - regardless of their respective background - just need to learn to enjoy a movie.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,18 days | (#45032773)

On being a geezer and related: oh, yeah; half the stuff we have now from all the sci-fi read starting late Fifties, the rest of it I'm still waiting for. But the perspective, and having lived through all the things that were then brand-freaking-new and now taken so for granted as to be background.... gets a bit weird at times.

Seeing Star Trek when it first aired. Watching Destination Moon (1950) in 1951 when a print made it to the post theater outside of Augsburg. There was a year when I was still an engineering student that I routinely carried a slip-stick and a calculator - and for years after still used my slide-rules for a lot of general use. Microwave ovens in general restaurant and even home use. Chains instead of snow tires. Automatic transmissions becoming widespread. Somebody on the block getting a color TV. FM radio for music. Digital-input touchpads instead of knobs and switches. Lot of stuff, man, lot of stuff.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,18 days | (#45032883)

Odd how mind and memory work or don't; how could I have left out something such as Sputnik I in October '57? For that matter, Nautilus' transpolar trip of '58? Not to mention Nautilus herself? So many new things, now faded, occupying various dusty shelves and corners of the brain.

Reminds me a bit of my mother's father, who as a child walked behind a mule plowing fields and watched as automobiles (and tractors!) became common, for whom the airplane of the Wright brothers et al were new and wondrous, and who lived just long enough to watch Armstrong and Aldrin walk on the Moon.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,18 days | (#45037043)

Wow, and I thought I was old! Haven't heard the term "slipstick" in decades; I had one in high school, it made math a breeze. It was 1970 before I saw a calculator (and today's $2 calculator was about $50 back then).

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,18 days | (#45039165)

Shooey, mcgrew, there's likely enuf of us old farts to start our own geezers sittin' and spittin' porch. I was wondering the other day how many still remember "Weekly Reader" - was something like a quarter a year to subscribe, and one got great discounts on books.

I had a number of fine slide rules. One was from Japan, of bamboo, with extra scales; another, gotten at university incorporated titanium for claimed stability. Had an "is-was" and another more general circular one also. Not claiming I ever learned how to best or even well use any of them.

I remember getting a CRC handbook for the tables, but found using a little 6" slide-rule got me about the same accuracy when doing analytical geometry and such for freshman maths. Still one of my favorite classes; may have had a lot to do with the teacher, who, among other things, had the cachet of a glass eye courtesy of 28 missions as a waist gunner in B-17s over Europe.

That's another thing feeding into the whole schmeer of perspective and its loss. One source was all the adults who'd been involved in WWII, another that at the time so many of my classmates still read books. I think we are likely the last generation to have any real kind of multi-generational perspective; from what I can see, somebody 25-35 today has only their own bubble for most stuff; they're maybe vaguely aware of pre-computer and pre-spaceflight, for example, but it has no meaning to them. And unless they have personal connection, even something as recent as the whole Vietnam war thing is little more than a few paragraphs in a history book. Moreover, most of what they seem to know of anything outside their bubble is too often just plain wrong.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,17 days | (#45043159)

I don't think kids today are much different than we were. I was never interested by history when I was a kid, either. I never saw the point; but that was a failure on my teachers' part. I was in college before I saw the value of history, when I took a general studies history class.

Math and science fascinated me from the get-go. I wanted to know how radios and TVs and everything else worked from as far back as I can remember until I learned to read.

I got a slide rule in about the 6th grade; I'd never memorized multiplication tables past 5, if I wanted to multiply 8x9 I'd subtract 16 from 100 before I got the slide rule. I never was any good at rote memorization, which history classes mostly were.

There are no boring subjects, only boring authors and boring teachers. A good writer or teacher can make the most mundane thing fascinating.

I think you'll appreciate this. [slashdot.org]

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,17 days | (#45046995)

I did appreciate the linked journal entry.

The discovery I made about boredom didn't come until I was in my early thirties, when I unaccountably got humongously badly depressed (beyond the usual crippling 'normal' depression) by getting completely bored to the point of ennui. Way out for me was an examination of my ignorance. When I was little, knowing so little, my ignorance encompassed the mud puddle of all the things that I could look at and ask the typical three-year old's "why?" As I got older, ignorance became a good-sized lake; by college, maybe the size of Lake Michigan - a lake so large as to appear vast, with no distant shore in sight.

I'd forgotten that, and gotten bored. When I realized that, with all I was learning from school and reading and thinking, pondering, musing, conversations with others, my ignorance was really as large as the Universe - in which case the entirety of existence became mystery, to be marveled at, teased out bit by strand, externally and internally. A night spent trying to fall asleep under a clear starry night clinched the deal and forever removed from me boredom, although I confess to slumps from time to time when the exigencies of the world weigh heavily in some personal manner via finances, health, and the like.

Yeah, I've had a few stinkers for teachers, or at least I thought so at the time, and mos' def some badly-conceived and -written textbooks, but I've also had some good and even great ones; but by and large all through school I had enough outside reading and extra-curricular stuff going on - building things and doing stuff with a few playmates or via Scouts or NRA. Also, Dad being in the Army, there were visits here and there to see things at different bases, and a visit to an uncle at Wright-Patterson's to see the museum. (Main-gear wheel well of the B-36 was size of my bedroom, looked like.)

I feel really lucky looking back that I was somehow able to compensate on my own hook for the occasional bad patches of school, and to this day feel badly that I was unable to figure out how to communicate any of it to any useful effect with some of my classmates. It hurts me to see when somebody gets locked into a downer place; after a lifetime of crushing depression I can sympathize at least.

While I got good grades in math (until uni) I was a dunce at really grasping it enuf to be inventive about it. The various geometry courses were by far my favorites.

What got me into history a bit was growing with so many of the adults having been through WWII; that and all the various movies and documentaries, and a few places we visited in Germany, and getting into some of the unit histories from my father's war, gave me an entry. Couple that with curiosity - how do you build a submarine; how does RADAR work; what are the differences amongst center of gravity, center of buoyancy, center of effort; just how in the hell did they really dig a ditch from the Atlantic to the Pacific; the questions kept arising like unto an itch that needed scratching. A clincher was getting the Brittanica for my eighth birthday - that answered for rainy days and more.

Again, I was lucky. Too many aren't. We need adults, parents, schools, all of it, to focus on presenting young'uns with fact, history, and the mechanism of scrupulous enquiry à la critical thinking (along with the three-R's basics) as preparation for making their way into the world. Parents have to want this, else the effort will fall apart (after all, cain't have the gummint telling our kinders what's what, now can we?) And for the love of anything holy or valued or worthwhile, frickin' pay good teachers some good money and keep the gorint admin off their back.

As an aside, no accountants or lawyers in the chain of command anywhere, ever. They can make good advisors, but put 'em to run something and they can screw up a wet dream.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,16 days | (#45049979)

All of my uncles were in WWII, but none of them talked about it. Probably wanted to leave the horror of war in the past; one of them was at Normandy Beach on D-Day, another was wounded when his ship was attacked. My dad was too young, he joined during the Korean war. One grandfather was in WWI and he never talked about that, either.

I remember once when I was really small asking someone, Dad or Grandpa, I don't remember who, some question and he said "I don't know, but it's in a book somewhere. Everything you want to know is in a book." Not true, but he believed it.

I did have an excellent first grade teacher, on the second day of second grade I freaked out a teacher who caught me reading a sixth grade reading level book. She didn't believe I was reading it until I read some out loud. A lot of grownups got really excited by that and I couldn't understand why.

I've discovered I have a knack for writing stuff people actually enjoy reading, I'll probably write full time when I retire next year.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,15 days | (#45056671)

Yeah, none of the people I knew who'd been in combat talked about it, other than to say it was not good, and they were glad to back and then change the subject. I never pushed it. My friends who came back from Vietnam were the same, sometimes a bit more open.

Funny, I got caught a time or two with stuff I wasn't supposed to be able to read also. All I ever got out of it was a talking-to or makework. That's one of the biggest peeves I had, and still do; even with somewhat better student-teacher ratios available post-Baby Boom, there's really not much of a concerted effort towards real flexibility for teachers or schools allowed - and from what I've seen the past fifty years the programs attempted to deal with anomalous students tend to be flawed and create problems on their own. I think we could use more of an academy and read-and-mentor approach, with lots of small-group q&a discussions. (For all the great survey numbers from parents saying education is important, I see a big gap 'twixt saying and doing - like a lot of stuff in life.)

Cheers on your impending retirement, and good luck with writing. Btw, I read time and again from quite a number of writers who've found some success that regular participation in writers' workshops has been found helpful.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45032747)

Which do you really think is easier... popping some people in a vomit comet with a camera for a bit, or building the whole thing from scratch in CGI?

I mean, without being a dick about it, one of them involves a lot more people, planning and $$.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

timeOday (582209) | 1 year,19 days | (#45029607)

It's a different kind of movie than Apollo 13 - the visuals of Gravity are far more spectacular, but not necessarily unrealistic. The buzz in this respect is quite positive:

The team behind Gravity, an upcoming sci-fi flick starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, seem particularly dedicated to accurately portraying science, however... According to "Bad Astronomer" Phil Plait, JPL scientist Kevin Grazier served as the science adviser for the film. Although scientists increasingly provide guidance to filmmakers, sometimes drama overrides accuracy. At first glance, however, Gravity appears to err on the side of realism.

Personally I am looking forward to it. Although Ron Howard has his racing movie in theaters which also looks good!

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | 1 year,19 days | (#45029907)

At first glance, however, Gravity appears to err on the side of realism.

There are rumors of a flight from Hubble to the ISS using a backpack thruster unit, so I take that with a big grain of salt.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (3, Interesting)

JeffAtl (1737988) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030153)

Wonder if screwing with the Hubble or other space telescopes would be considered worthwhile to help save two astronauts.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030519)

Astronaut Marsha Ivins disagrees (her review linked above).

But in more realistically intended space movies, Iâ(TM)m a bit more. . .sensitive. Watching Gravity, I found myself cycling between appreciation and cringing, almost in time with the action.

My first take was to itemize the errors. The vehicles are in impossible orbitsâ"wrong altitudes, wrong inclinations. (The communications satellites that create the debris field that wreaks all the havoc are actually 21,700 miles [35,000 km] higher than the Shuttleâ(TM)s orbit.) The backpack maneuvering unit has a nearly infinite amount of fuel and comes superchargedâ"but only until the plot requires it suddenly to run out. The astronauts slam their bodies into structure repeatedly and never even ding the suit or the helmet, much less injure any body parts that in real life would be ringing inside of the suit. Space stations seem to retain pressure in their various modules despite coming apart at the seams. You can apparently close an outward opening hatch against exiting pressure with one hand. And with only six months of training (Shuttle astronauts trained one to two years for a mission, especially one as complicated as a Hubble repair mission, and Space Station astronauts train for three to four years), Sandra Bullockâ(TM)s character can find the hatches on the International Space Station and the Chinese station, and fly all of the necessary capsules. Well, who would not want these things in real space flight?

But I can almost forgive the liberal use of artistic license in violating the laws of physics because they got some things very right. The views of the Earth and the sunrise, the lighting on Sandra Bullockâ(TM)s face (light in space is so different from light in the atmosphere)â"perfect. Her body positions inside the spacecraft, the astronautsâ(TM) tether protocol during the space walks, the breathing in the helmet, even the real life, excruciatingly slow movement of the Soyuz undocking from the Space Stationâ"spot on. These things made me happy.

The massive, fatal, horrific, total destruction of every single spacecraft? Not so much. I guess I take spacecraft destruction personally, movie or not. For me, itâ(TM)s just too hard to watch.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (2)

FlameWise (84536) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030219)

I kindly suggest you watch the movie before denouncing it like that.

There are MINUTE LONG takes going through space stations in zero gravity, have fun trying to cobble that together in a vomit comet.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030317)

Not using CG is generally considered a positive these days. Working around the limitations of filming real things is a major part of the art of film making.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

FlameWise (84536) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030509)

Are you trying to say that the major part of the art of film making that uses CG these days is positive, or not?

Anyway, I stand by my point. You should watch it before calling it names because you already know you're going to hate the CG in it.

I mean, I could also talk about the acting. If you'll go watch the movie before coming back to this thread, I won't be talking about Academy Awards until January 2014.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030543)

There are MINUTE LONG takes going through space stations in zero gravity, have fun trying to cobble that together in a vomit comet.

IIRC you're weightless for about 3 minutes at a time in the comet. They managed very long weightlessness scenes in Apollo 13.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

jonwil (467024) | 1 year,19 days | (#45031439)

I saw this film yesterday and I can say that there is no way you would be able to replicate the space station sets inside the Vomit Comet (or any other flying machine built to date), they are just too big.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,18 days | (#45037073)

Just paint the comet's walls green like they do when an actor is running from an explosion; those shots are filmed inside a sound stage.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,18 days | (#45032641)

20-30 seconds is more like it.

http://www.gozerog.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Experience.How_it_Works [gozerog.com]
"For the next 20-30 seconds everything in the plane is weightless."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reduced_gravity_aircraft [wikipedia.org]
"giving them about 25 seconds of weightlessness out of 65 seconds of flight in each parabola"

I used "vomit comet zero g time span" as search term in DuckDuckGo and got plenty of good hits. Four of the six I looked at reported "25-30" seconds, the same as one result from NASA; the others may use those figures but didn't specify source. I'll go with NASA's numbers because they're the ones who've done more of these flights than anyone else.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,18 days | (#45037061)

I don't remember where I saw that, but I'll take wikipedia's word for it, it's a lot more reliable than my memory.

That fact makes Apollo 13 even more awesome.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,18 days | (#45039185)

Yeah, 3 minutes would be handy, but it'd be one king-hell of a parabola. WikiP was my second hit read, but went to NASA for the clincher. Memory; aw crap, mine's about shot (in fairness it's maybe not so much the librarian's fault, as it's the waning army of file clerks not finding things.)

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45032777)

Actually, the opening shot (ie. no cuts) is 12.5 minutes long with 3 actors and set in open space.

I think the CG is doing someting here that we can't do in a vomit comet.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | 1 year,19 days | (#45031211)

I completely agree with the sentiment of your comment, but I gotta nitpick here ... actual zero gravity? So they actually escaped Earth's orbit in an actual spacecraft, filmed the whole thing there and slingshotted around the moon to shoot that scene where Tom Hanks says "I've seen it"?

Naw, I'm preeeetty sure they were inside an aircraft doing parabolic flight patterns to counter gravity and create simulated weightlessness ;) The effect is the same, but the cause is very different (gravity is still acting on the plane and it's occupants, which you'd notice quickly if it made a sudden leveling or climb)

Additionally, astronauts in orbiting spacecrafts (shuttle, ISS, etc.) technically experience extremely limited gravity (near weightlessness, close enough that you wouldn't notice the difference), which is why the ISS needs thrusters to periodically adjust altitude/attitude.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | 1 year,19 days | (#45031545)

Naw, I'm preeeetty sure they were inside an aircraft doing parabolic flight patterns to counter gravity and create simulated weightlessness ;) The effect is the same, but the cause is very different (gravity is still acting on the plane and it's occupants, which you'd notice quickly if it made a sudden leveling or climb)

In orbit. Just as in parabolic flight gravity is still acting on everyone. It really is pretty much the same. You are falling at the exact rate gravity is pulling on you in parabolic arc flight or in orbit.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (3, Informative)

kellymcdonald78 (2654789) | 1 year,19 days | (#45031593)

There is no such thing as "zero gravity", in fact the force gravity in LEO is only slightly less that it is on the surface. Astronauts and spacecraft are in free-fall around the Earth which is equivalent to what they experience in the Vomit Comet. The only difference is that in orbit, you're moving fast enough that you continually miss hitting the ground. The Vomit Comet isn't so lucky and thus needs to pull up periodically

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | 1 year,19 days | (#45032029)

Well, if one could travel to a point between the stars, you would effectively be in 0 gravity. The closest start to ours is about 4 light years away. If you were in between the 2 stars, you would be 2 light years away from the nearest object. Although technically, gravity doesn't have a boundary, I'm pretty sure the force of gravity at that location acting on something the size of a person would be pretty much unmeasurable.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45032145)

> Well, if one could travel to a point between the stars, you would effectively be in 0 gravity.

You know those stars are circling the galactic core because of gravity, right? Maybe you'll get left behind as the stars go whizzing by your stationary gravity-free position. :)

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

terryk29 (2756467) | 1 year,18 days | (#45035059)

Had to work this out... 1 lightyear ~ 1e16 m, 1 solar mass ~ 2e30 kg, acceleration due to gravity = GM / R^2. So acceleration due to sun at 2 lightyears ~ 7e-11 * 2e30 / (2e16)^2 ~ 4e-13 m/s^2 ~ 4e-14 gee. Yep, pretty much unmeasurable.

However, according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] the sun is about 30 000 lightyear ~ 3e20 m from the galactic core and is moving at about 240 km/s = 2.4e5 m/s relative to the core, so if we simply assume that's fully tangential, radial acceleration a = v^2 / R ~ 2e-10 m/s^2 ~ 2e-11 gee. That would be the acceleration due to the gravity of the rest of the stars in our galaxy, and is 500x stronger than the above figure (but as a force m*a on a person still probably not directly measurable).

Of course, getting yourself out there wouldn't really get you "more zero G" in practical terms, since as others have pointed out, free-fall is free-fall. (Although you wouldn't have to worry as much as to whether your trajectory will hit something, and there would probably be effectively no "microgravity" tidal-like effects.) But I'd better stop now before I start discussing the Equivalence Principle...

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (2)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,18 days | (#45032711)

No, ISS needs thrusters mostly for attitude control (in conjunction with gyros, I believe), although it can manage enough thrust to do some of its own orbital adjustments and for debris-avoidance.

Most boost is done by visiting craft. Whatever the source, boost is used to raise orbit as a counter to air resistance, not to counter gravity.

Free fall is free fall, orbit is orbit - the latter defined as balancing velocity between lowering or raising orbital path. So far as I know, all orbital decay is due to atmospheric drag (I'm ignoring solar pressure due to its much smaller effect because of surface area vs. density ratio of most satellites.)

Oh, and "micro-gravity" stems from _all_ mass, not just Earth. It's a specific term for specific use and along the way has become a politically-correct term for more general usage; for general purposes such terms as "weightlessness" and "zero-g" work just fine in conversation because that is the sensation that people experience and describe as observable effects on objects.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

terryk29 (2756467) | 1 year,18 days | (#45035297)

Oh, and "micro-gravity" stems from _all_ mass, not just Earth.

To clarify, according to the Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] , most of the non-zero g forces in a microgravity environment are due to tidal and other "differential" effects. From the figures given, the effects of gravitational attraction between, say, an object and a massive part of a space station (or, I suppose, between a station and docking craft) are less significant in probably most situations.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,18 days | (#45038971)

No doubt, and I read that as well. The WikiP article is worth looking at, for those interested. I was being an absolutist (mass has the property of gravitational attraction) and hope it didn't come across that I was trying to be a dick-head about it - although I may have failed in that.

There's a lot of stuff that goes into just orbital mechanics - more than I can comfortably even approach, let alone all the extra stuff that's involved in practical terms of maintaining a stable orbit against all the impediments working to counter one.

For an oddball thing, unless there's some great gotcha, I'm all in favor of eliminating the lower Van Allen belt; an extra hundred miles of altitude, while initially more expensive in boost, would go a long way to practical simplification of stuff to deal with.

Re:Won't come close to Apollo 13 (1)

slick7 (1703596) | 1 year,19 days | (#45031701)

Gravity sucks, not the movie, but gravity it really sucks. I do not fear heights, but I do fear gravity or better said, I fear the sudden stop at the bottom.

Not to worry - Gravity is a very weak force. (2)

mmell (832646) | 1 year,18 days | (#45033121)

You jump off a building and gently accelerate to something like 55 m/s. It takes a few seconds. That's gravity.

You hit the sidewalk below and almost instantly accelerate (in the other direction) to 0 m/s. It takes some few milliseconds. That's electromagnetism.

Re:Not to worry - Gravity is a very weak force. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45035559)

Well said

The New Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45029561)

Slashvertisements for movies now. Wonderful.

Look an Ad! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45029599)

Hey everyone! It's an ad for a new movie! Pfft.

Re:Look an Ad! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45032977)

Hey everyone! It's an ad for a new movie! Pfft.

I'd love to upvote you if I wasn't an AC! ^_^

Another really stupid new movie.

Nothing like real life (5, Insightful)

TWiTfan (2887093) | 1 year,19 days | (#45029649)

In the real world, Shuttles are destroyed by funding cuts.

Re:Nothing like real life (3, Insightful)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,19 days | (#45029737)

Considering that 2 of the 5 shuttles that were in service (Enterprise was never launched) were destroyed taking everyone on board I don't think the premise of the movie is that far off.

Re:Nothing like real life (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45029765)

The unrealistic part is that there were survivors.

Re:Nothing like real life (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | 1 year,19 days | (#45029905)

I wonder if this is

**spoiler mebbe**

based on the short story that ends with a kid looking up and saying, "Look, Daddy! A shooting star!" "Make a wish!, Billy!"

Re:Nothing like real life (1)

ks*nut (985334) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030471)

Not quite true; the shuttles had outlived their usefullness and were extremely expensive ways of reaching LEO. The real tragedy is that NASA didn't come up with an alternative in 30+ years and now a seat in a Soyuz costs around $70 million. And, when engineers speak managers should listen.

Re:Nothing like real life (1)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | 1 year,19 days | (#45031221)

In the movie world, they're destroyed by bad casting decisions.

Kaleidoscope (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45029771)

On a similar theme, I bring you Kaleidoscope [scaryforkids.com] by the late great Rad Bradbury.

The small boy on the country road looked up and screamed. "Look, Mom, look! A falling star!"
The blazing white star fell down the sky of dusk in Illinois. "Make a wish," said his mother. "Make a wish."

What has the ISS ever done for us? (2, Interesting)

umafuckit (2980809) | 1 year,19 days | (#45029795)

I'm keen on astronomy and space exploration but I don't understand what the ISS is really for. Surely the billions that have been spent on it would have gone further had we directed them towards space probes or space telescopes? From what I can tell, it seems to be serve more of a diplomatic role than a scientific role.

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (-1, Troll)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,19 days | (#45029869)

The ISS has made zero contribution to anything. It's sole purpose is to waste your tax dollars. The only positive thing to come out of it is that astronauts get to fly up there and float around, which apparently is pretty fun. Nothing useful has been done up there besides trying to get a coke machine to work in orbit and making a pretty cool cover of Space Oddity.

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | 1 year,19 days | (#45029897)

And some pretty nice photos the astronauts take. Overall, though, I think I agree with you. Money could have been better spent elsewhere. Oh: you can also *see* it through a telescope. i.e. see the solar panels and stuff, which it is pretty cool.

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030135)

The problem with rants like this is: for what else would you spend tax dollars?
Considering that the majourity of the ISS funding are not dollars anyway.
Regardless what political/social topic you ever rise, the typical american opinion is: they spend our tax (dollars).
Sorry: that exactly is what taxes and a government is for.

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45030269)

I'd say the problem with rants like that is more that it's legitimately hard to tell if it's your garden-variety middle-school-quality anarchist who thinks he's got it all "figured out", or a subtle joke that sailed right over your head. Though I'd say the "its sole purpose is to waste taxpayer dollars" part was probably the giveaway.

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (1)

JeffAtl (1737988) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030313)

The problem with rants like this is: for what else would you spend tax dollars?

The OP specifically noted what he'd rather spend the tax money on - space telescopes and probes. I think he has a great point. I'd much rather have the resources devoted to projects like Kepler or Clipper.

The OP wasn't ranting about spending the money on social programs or rebating it back to the public. It's just that the ISS is more about diplomacy than about science and exploration.

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (2)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030587)

But they are doing science in the ISS. The Vomit Comet just won't do to study how flies fly or plants grow or fish swim in a weightless environment.

I don't believe any science is worthless. What they're studying up there won't pay off short term, but certainly will in the long run.

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030335)

The problem with rants like this is that Slashdotters can't seem to detect sarcasm.

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (2)

dbIII (701233) | 1 year,18 days | (#45033541)

A written joke generally has to be funny to be able to distinguish it from a redneck rant.

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030343)

Some would hand them back to the people they were taken from. Others would use them to fund other projects that give better return on investment. Still others would use them to reduce debt. All three are better choices than the current use.

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45108301)

> The problem with rants like this is: for what else would you spend tax dollars?

Well, the obvious alternative is don't spend them. If you must collect them, use them to pay down the debt for the stuff we already spent on.

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | 1 year,18 days | (#45033439)

The ISS has made zero contribution to anything. It's sole purpose is to waste your tax dollars. The only positive thing to come out of it is that astronauts get to fly up there and float around, which apparently is pretty fun. Nothing useful has been done up there besides trying to get a coke machine to work in orbit and making a pretty cool cover of Space Oddity.

The worst problem with the ISS is its extremely low orbit. The reason for that is the space shuttle which coudn't go any higher. The reason for that is that the military insisted that the shuttle have wings and tailplane, making it heavy and allowing it to land in the continental united states if a problem arose on a classified mission.

So really its the USA that fucked the ISS... I hope the Chinese learn from this mistake.

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (1)

underlord_999 (812134) | 1 year,17 days | (#45043101)

Logic and Mathematics here:

The ISS orbits between 180-250 miles above the earth. The shuttle can reach 350-380 miles above the earth, as it did when deploying the Hubble Space Telescope.

Both the Hubble and the Unity Module (1st Shuttle-launched ISS Module carried up by STS-88) are equivalent mass ~25,000 lbs.

So, the ISS is at least 100 miles lower than the what the shuttle has on several occasions achieved, carrying a similar payload mass.

Thus, the reason for the ISS being in a low orbit is not because the shuttle could go no higher (as it obviously did on several occasions).

Most of the orbital concerns with the ISS (inclination especially) are due to the Russians needing to be able to reach it from a launch site in their country.

Furthermore, given the limited budget for the current space station, how do you propose not killing the crew by placing them in an even higher orbit (where they have less protection from cosmic radiation) ?

More shielding = More weight = Costs more money!

And NASA getting more money is not going to happen unless we get another JFK-like "the USA will lead the way in space" president.

Are you that lazy? (1)

dbIII (701233) | 1 year,18 days | (#45033535)

Come on now, it took me far less time than it would have taken you to write your post to find this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_research_on_the_International_Space_Station [wikipedia.org]
Are you really that lazy or do you have some sort of axe to grind but reality is getting in your way?

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (3, Informative)

Gravis Zero (934156) | 1 year,19 days | (#45029951)

i can has wiki? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Space_Station#Purpose [wikipedia.org]

the basic answer is that they do science experiments.

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030051)

i can has wiki? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Space_Station#Purpose [wikipedia.org]

the basic answer is that they do science experiments.

But that's a pretty vague list. It's more of a list of fields of research then actual outcomes. Of the few things where outcomes are listed (e.g. dark matter) it's not obvious why a manned station is needed to conduct the work.

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (3, Informative)

jxander (2605655) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030191)

If nothing else, it has given us a basic understanding of life in space. If we ever want to send manned missions to Mars or beyond, there will likely be a pit-stop at L2 [wikipedia.org]

There's plenty to be learned about human physiology (and plants) in a zero-g environment, before we move on to bigger challenges.

Re:What has the ISS ever done for us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45030427)

If nothing else, it has given us a basic understanding of life in space.

MIR already did that, and it didn't cost the American taxpayer anything.

Name-dropping (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45029931)

... she sees the endeavor as supremely worth it ...

Enough with the name-dropping already!

Been there.. (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | 1 year,19 days | (#45029941)

From TFA: When we get up to space and the people up there run around and show us stuff â" that's really, really effective and there was nothing like that compared to the classroom.

Sounds like when I reported to my submarine... the real thing was very different from the neat lines on the diagrams and open spaces in the simulators and trainers. (And the willies that I got the first time we dove...)

Reach the "nearby" ISS? From Hubble? Uh, No. (4, Informative)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030043)

they struggle to reach the nearby International Space Station (ISS)

In this NY Times review, Astronaut and a Writer at the Movies [nytimes.com] , Dennis Overbye and astronaut Michael J. Massimino watched and discussed the movie together... "There is a hole in the plot: a gaping orbital impossibility big enough to drive the Starship Enterprise through."

Plot *SPOILER* or orbital physics lesson, take your pick:

... Michael J. Massimino, who flew missions in 2002 and 2009 to service the Hubble Space Telescope — the same telescope the astronauts in “Gravity” were sent to repair. ... there is a hole in the plot: a gaping orbital impossibility big enough to drive the Starship Enterprise through.

After they stop tumbling and find the shuttle destroyed and their colleagues all dead, Mr. Clooney tells Ms. Bullock that their only hope for rescue is to use his jetpack to travel to the space station, seen as a glowing light over the horizon. “It’s a long hike, but we can make it,” he says.

... the Hubble and the space station are in vastly different orbits. Getting from one to the other requires so much energy that not even space shuttles had enough fuel to do it. The telescope is 353 miles high, in an orbit that keeps it near the Equator; the space station is about 100 miles lower, in an orbit that takes it far north, over Russia.

To have the movie astronauts Matt Kowalski (Mr. Clooney) and Ryan Stone (Ms. Bullock) zip over to the space station would be like having a pirate tossed overboard in the Caribbean swim to London.

Re:Reach the "nearby" ISS? From Hubble? Uh, No. (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030371)

They pay for plenty of qualified scientific advisers and then they ignore all of the advice.

Re:Reach the "nearby" ISS? From Hubble? Uh, No. (1)

FlameWise (84536) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030383)

To be honest, they hardly needed the Hubble in that movie. They could just have done some standard satellite maintenance, like the Shuttle occasionally does, or did anyway. Not like it makes any sense that a real doctor was fixing sciency bits on the Hubble that furthered any medical purposes, either. "We can now spot AIDS with a telescope that's pointing away from Earth!"

I figure they just put the Hubble in for the audience. I guess real astronauts were only a small part of the target audience.

Re:Reach the "nearby" ISS? From Hubble? Uh, No. (2)

GryMor (88799) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030391)

An ideal intercept, while impossible on the 25m/s delta v of the old MMU, only actually needs 39m/s. Given a lighter weight, higher ISP advanced MMU and the initial disaster having lobbed them in generally the right direction. What isn't plausible, if they manage an intercept, is them doing anything more than destroying the ISS, continuing the Kessler Syndrome (it's another 39m/s to circularize and don't get me started on matching inclinations).

Re:Reach the "nearby" ISS? From Hubble? Uh, No. (5, Interesting)

Poisonous Drool (526798) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030711)

Many years ago I "advised" a real-live screen writer (credited with seven movies) on a space shuttle movie, meaning he bought me lunch. He wanted to fly the shuttle to the sun. I told him it was impossible. He didn't care. I ate my lunch and he wrote his script. That's the way it goes in Hollywood. (The movie was released but his credit was something other than screenwriter on this particular film. Must have been my bad advice.)

Re:Reach the "nearby" ISS? From Hubble? Uh, No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45033485)

He wanted to fly the shuttle to the sun. I told him it was impossible. He didn't care.

He probably had it figured out already that he could just write the flying to happen at night. Problem solved.

(OK, I know, old joke.)

Re:Reach the "nearby" ISS? From Hubble? Uh, No. (1)

beowulfcluster (603942) | 1 year,18 days | (#45034539)

He wanted to fly the shuttle to the sun.

That sounds like Airplane II: The Sequel. In that case I think it's ok that some scientific realism was sacrificed.

Plausible slightly different universe (1)

localroger (258128) | 1 year,19 days | (#45031001)

So in the movie the Hubble is a bit lower and the ISS a bit higher, and they share an orbit and hold station to facilitate regular maintenance, but at a safe distance to prevent regular ISS activity from interfering with the telescope and in case something goes wrong. Yes it's impossible in our space program but the F in SF doesn't stand for Fact.

Re:Plausible slightly different universe (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | 1 year,19 days | (#45031729)

Yes it's impossible in our space program but the F in SF doesn't stand for Fact.

From the article I linked:

It wouldn’t matter so much had the producers not set such a high bar for themselves with their splendid re-creations of small things: the fogging helmets, the space tools. Violations of the known laws of physics happen in practically every frame of a “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” movie, and we don’t care because we don’t expect anything better.

But this is the way it goes in the movies. They will hire art historians to make sure the curtains in Einstein’s house look right — it’s a visual medium, after all — but at some point, as the science fiction director David Twohy said during a talk on movies and science, science gives way to the story.

Still, I wish they wouldn’t always cheat on the physics.

You might want to watch Europa Report [wikipedia.org] for something that "puts the science back into science fiction" - quoting a Rotten Tomatoes critic.

Swimming to London (Catch-22 spoiler) (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45032161)

SPOILER:

Joseph Heller's 'Catch-22' includes an aviator who is lost at sea in the Mediterranean paddling his life raft to Sweden.

AC

Re:Reach the "nearby" ISS? From Hubble? Uh, No. (1)

Deaths Proxy (1795932) | 1 year,18 days | (#45032687)

...the Hubble and the space station are in vastly different orbits. Getting from one to the other requires so much energy that not even space shuttles had enough fuel to do it.

Nonsense. I've successfully instructed Jebediah Kerman to do it in an EVA suit a bunch of times. How much harder can actual rocket science be?

Re:Reach the "nearby" ISS? From Hubble? Uh, No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45032703)

Forget orbital physics lessons.
Clearly the fact that the film features the (non existent) Chinese space station passed them by?!

I've seen the film, it's fun and artistic license is used appropriately.
Go see it. You'll enjoy it too.

Space Camp 2? (0)

RackinFrackin (152232) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030199)

They have to get to the ISS because they are running out of oxygen. Sounds a lot like Space Camp [wikipedia.org] .

In space, no one can hear you laugh maniacally. (2, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | 1 year,19 days | (#45031229)

"Faced with dwindling oxygen levels, they struggle to reach the nearby International Space Station (ISS)." - Mua haha ha! And thus will be the demise of the fragile organics. Your puny frames are too expensive to truly make space your home. Your envy of the machines is already causing some among you to desire they be transformed into us. Your warm wet brain isn't suited to the cold calculations required of a truly space faring race.

Breathing is a design flaw.

Re:In space, no one can hear you laugh maniacally. (1)

Hillgiant (916436) | 1 year,18 days | (#45035609)

Re:In space, no one can hear you laugh maniacally. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 days | (#45041415)

There are a number of video versions on YouTube, but this one [youtube.com] is the best quality IMHO.

Thanks for the spoilers, DOOFI (1)

undulato (2146486) | 1 year,18 days | (#45033347)

Great, I've been assiduously avoiding finding too much out about this movie so I can go and actually find out what happens at the cinema and you give the outline of the plot in the first sentence. Nice going editors, nice going EVERYONE.

Re:Thanks for the spoilers, DOOFI (1)

In hydraulis (1318473) | 1 year,17 days | (#45042573)

"The upcoming movie Gravity features—"

Enough warning.
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