PG-13 | | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
When Matt and Ryan are making their way to the International Space Station, he finds out Ryan is from Lake Zurich, Illinois, and states that it's 8:00 P.M. there. They are floating over Egypt where it is 3:00 A.M. locally.
Please verify that the P1 ATA removal on replacement cap part 1 and 2 are complete.
Explorer Captain: DMA, M1, M2, M3 and M4 are complete.
Mission Control: Okay. Copy that, Explorer. Dr. Stone, Houston. Medical is concerned about your ECG readings.
Ryan Stone: I'm fine, Houston.
Mission Control: Well, medical ...
Ryan Stone: Not...
Houston tells the astronauts that debris from a Russian missile strike on one of their satellites has caused a chain reaction, destroying other satellites, and a huge debris field is heading toward them at high speed. NASA: "Multiple satellites are down and they keep on falling." Kowalski: "Define multiple satellites." NASA: "Most of them are gone. Telecommunications systems are dead." There are a great many problems with this, made all the more important because point is so central to the plot. Communications satellites aren't in low-Earth-orbit ("LEO") like the Shuttle & Hubble Space Telescope. LEOs are at an altitude of roughly 200 miles, whereas communications satellite are in geosynchronous orbits (so-called "Clarke Orbits" in honor of SF author Arthur C. Clarke who first proposed them) about 22,240 miles above the Earth's surface. It is virtually impossible for a non-nuclear explosion to send debris 22,000 miles up even in airless space, never mind put pieces on an intersecting path with satellites that travel above the equator. Secondly, NASA didn't always use communications satellites to reach the Shuttle. If the Shuttle was above America NASA could use microwave, telephone and other methods to send voice to the appropriate ground station, which would then beam the signal directly to the Shuttle (and vice versa). Ground stations in Europe could be reached by NASA via the telephone & data trunk lines under the Atlantic Ocean. In the worst case Ham Radio could even be used to communicate between NASA and the various ground stations. Even if none of this was possible ground stations are manned by communications people during Shuttle flights, and they could have talked directly with the Shuttle even if they had trouble reaching NASA immediately.
However, the array of TRDS comsats, used to free the shuttle from constantly having to be in sight of a ground station, are in LEO to reduce the signal power needed to transmit to them. In fact, it is because they are in LEO that there have to be so many of them, instead of just three.
The credits end with the sound of a radio transmission and a man counting down: "Three, two, one, mark."
$55,785,112 6 October 2013