NASA astronaut Cady Coleman gave Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, two of the stars of October’s upcoming flick, Gravity, advice and information about what life is like living at the International Space Station (ISS).
Bullock and Clooney play two astronauts who have the misfortune of having their space shuttle get hit by space debris during an EVA. Without it available, the two astronauts find themselves marooned in orbit. The rest of the tale is their attempts to survive, despite their precarious situation.
Sandra Bullock actively approached Coleman to get her insight into what life as an astronaut is like while Cady, a member of Expedition 26, was still aboard the ISS.
Among other things that they discussed, Cady told Bullock how “little force” it takes to move from one place to another. One hair, if pulled from out of your head and pushed “against something,” Cady told Bullock, “you could move yourself across the space station.”
Gravity is based more upon actual science than are many other movies, such as Core, but NASA says that they do everything that they can to try to ensure that its vehicles and astronauts don’t fall victim to things like space debris. For example, the ISS has protective shielding, and astronauts get a lot of training while on the ground and also in space.
They learn what to do in cases like fires, spacewalking, and decompression, and NASA’s ground crews are also trained so that they will have the knowledge and skills to deal with almost any potential situation that they might face.
On July 16, there was a situation that cropped up this past summer aboard the space station that could have proved to be lethal, when Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy were scheduled to perform a spacewalk. The were going to do some routine maintenance, involving repairing a door cover and switching out one camera for another.
That was when, in an incident that received heavy media coverage, after 100 minutes the spacewalk was cancelled due to Parmitano reporting that he had water inside of his helmet. The water had leaked into it, presenting one scenario that neither astronaut had received training for, as it was something which hadn’t ever been considered to be possible.
The outcome was that the two astronauts went back to the airlock and repressurized. Then, the Parmitano’s helmet was safely removed, and the mission was continued.
In an interview later with the International Business Times, Cassidy told them that:
…it just goes to show you that, no matter how much thought you put into problem solving, there’s always some tricky little thing out there that can come out to get you that you haven’t thought of before.”
Also, “debris avoidance measures” to ensure the safety of the International Space Station are in place. NASA, in addition, can launch and deploy a rescue space shuttle within the space of a few hours.
While it’s impossible to predict and prepare for every scenario that astronauts might face, the likelihood that the ISS or a space shuttle being destroyed by space debris is relatively small.
Gravity, though, is more accurate at depicting what is scientifically plausible than many other science fiction movies are. Sandra Bullock’s consulting with NASA astronaut Cady Coleman is one of the measures that were taken to try to make the movie as believable and accurate as possible.
You can view a video of of Bullock and Coleman discussing “Gravity” and what it’s like living aboard the ISS below.
Written by: Douglas Cobb
Sandra Bullock and NASA astronaut Cady Coleman Discussing Gravity