Astronaut Chris Hadfield rates Hollywood's space movies

Chris Hadfield Plays Facts Or Fantasy: Movie Edition

Former astronaut Chris Hadfield rates how scientifically accurate some of Hollywood's most iconic space movies are. During his career he flew two space shuttle missions and served as commander of the International Space Station.

Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock, was a huge smash, but there were glaring errors, Hadfield says. He describes the instruction manual she was using to fly the spacecraft as an "IKEA assembly catalogue of how to fly a spacecraft."

"They are complicated ships to fly and you can't just follow paint by numbers and fly a spaceship back to Earth," he says. "(It was) extremely factually incorrect.

"Gravity made me wince. They changed the laws of physics. The characters were all wrong. But it was kind of an interesting story."

Moon, the 2009 movie starring Sam Rockwell in which a man spends three solitary years on the moon, was far closer to reality, he says. "All of the science in that was credible. I was fascinated."

Most realistic space movie

Hadfield rates Christopher Nolan's epic Interstellar, starring Matthew McConaughey, as a "fun fantasy", but says Apollo 13 was "the most realistic space movie ever made."

The 1995 movie starring Tom Hanks dramatised the true-life story of the aborted 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission.

"Director Ron Howard used the actual script between mission control the three Apollo astronauts. He tried to make it as realistic as possible," says Hadfield.

"If you want to know what it's like being an astronaut, dealing with emergencies, dealing with imperfections, but actually prevailing and winning and surviving as a team of people, then there's no movie better."

But Armageddon, he says, was "one of the worst space movies ever made." The 1998 film follows a group of deep-core drillers sent by NASA to stop a gigantic asteroid colliding with Earth.

Hadfield, though, was not impressed: "It was terrible to watch. Where it's easier to train a driller from the oil industry to be an astronaut ... than it is to train an astronaut to run a drill."

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