6 events in sci-fi movies that actually happened

6 events in sci-fi movies that actually happened

Space, the infinite source of sci-fi plots and muse of great stories. It has inspired the most fantastc, incredible and unbelievable events in movies acomplished by stunning VFX and, in some cases, unexpected performances. But sometimes those events weren't so fictional after all. Here is a list of 6 cases when facts are stranger than fiction.

The Martian: Matt Damon's blood seals a hole in his spacesuit

The movie:

A violent windstorm at Mars causes Matt Damon get badly hurt. The storm slams him with debris, rolling him down a hill and stabbing an antenna in his abdomen. With the wind threatening to destroy their escape craft, his crewmates are forced to leave him for dead.

Luckily, the blood that spouts from his wound freexes around the wounded area of his suit and keeps it pressurized, allowing him to survive long enough to awaken and realize how injured he is.

The real life:

During a 1991 mission on Space Shuttle Atlantis, astronaut Jerome III was on a routine spacewalk while trying out some new series gloves. When they returned to the shuttle and removed the gloves, they found that Jerome had a small puncture wound on his right index finger, which he hadn't even noticed, but that small wound saved his whole hand: the coagulating action glued the hole and allowed his suit to stay pressurized.

By NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Source: Wikimedia.

Gravity: Sandra Bullock's landing on water

The movie:

Sandra Bullock overcomes all odds to reenter Earth's atmosphere in a Chinese space capsule. The capsule bursts into flames but luckily she splashed into a lake. The capsule is sinking but finally she manages to get out.


The real life:

There are several astronauts that actually landed like this. For a long time, water landings were routine for spaceflights.

Case 1: On October 15, 1976, when the Soyuz 23 was re-entering the Earth, winds pushed it a few kilometers away from where they had planned to land: beside the icy waters of Lake Tengiz in Kazakhstan. The hatch couldn't be opened without frozen water made havoc on the bodies of astronauts Vyachaslav Zudov and Valeri Rozhdestvensky.


Credit: Roscosmos/VideoCosmos. Source: Collectspace.

Both their pressure suits were removed, they rationed the food and waited for the helicopters came to their rescue. Suddenly, the parachute opened and made the capsule get filled with frozen water, threatening the lives of the astronauts who knew that at any moment they would sink. Astronauts tried to drag the capsule to the surface until they succeeded. The helicopter arrived later and dragged them to the shore.

Case 2: Gus Grissom became the first American in space in 1961 . When he returned to earth, he fell into the Atlantic Ocean in the Mercury capsule. Before the capsule was stabilized, the hatch exploded and the water began to enter quickly. Grissom left the capsule with the suit on, so he had to struggle to avoid drowning because of his heavy wardrobe.

By NASA - Kennedy Space Center Photo Archive. Source: Wikimedia. 

Die Another Day: The Icarus space mirror was an upscaled version of a real satellite

The movie:

In the Bond film Die Another Day, British billionaire Gustav Graves unveils the Icarus, a massive space mirror that is ostensibly designed to boost agricultural output by providing year-round sunlight for crops.

The real life:

The Russians had actually planned to put a huge mirror in space to reduce energy dependence and increase production in the harvest fields. In 1993, the space station Mir deployed the Znamya 2 satellite which then deployed a 65-foot mirror that could reflect the sun, its intensity was three times that of the moon. But in this test mission, the mirror lost control and just showed a small flash of light in the sky of Europe before it left orbit and burned. In 1999 they tried it again with an 82-foot diameter, but it failed to deploy.

Znamya. Source: America Pink.

2010: Astronauts revive a dead and frozen spacecraft

The movie:

The sequel to "2001: A Space Odyssey" tells the story of Martin Brody is tasked with investigating the perplexing failure of the Discovery One mission to Jupiter. After Brody and his crew team up with the Soviets (because they were the only ones with spacecraft capable of getting them over there) they arrive at the long dead Discovery which had remained there for nine years. The ship still had oxygen and the crew were able to breathe.


In real life:

In 1985, the Salyut 7 station went off and was abandoned due to an electrical overload. Four months later, Viktor Savinykh and Dzhanibekov received orders to repair the station. The men proceeded through three hatches to get to the main work area of the station, where they were greeted by the outer-space equivalent of a haunted house. The interior was dark and quiet. They had no energy or liquid water, but by the tenth day, they were able to recharge the station's depleted batteries, replace its fried electronics, and thaw out its water storage system. The station was ready to function.


Saylut 7. Source: Wikipedia.

Space Cowboys: An astronaut violently demonstrates the point of safety tethers

The movie:

In one scene, Loren Dean goes spacewalking in an attempt to single-handedly return a malfunctioning Soviet satellite to a safe orbit. When Dean plugs a cable into the satellite, an electrical outburst pushed him to the end of his safety tether and made him get beated by rogue ship parts, each one threatening to hurl him into the deep void of space.

In real life:

In 1973, as Skylab (the first U.S. orbital space station) tore through the atmosphere during its launch and it lost a meteoroid shield. The tie-downs bursted up securing its solar arrays in the flight position: one array was completely torn off and the other got stuck and couldn't deploy. They sent Pete Conrad, Joe Kerwin and Paul Weitz to fix it with a long pole. In a second attempt, Conrad ventured out but the jaws snapped shut and partially freed the solar array, pushing Conrad away.


By NASA. Source: Wikimedia.

He was tethered to Skylab bouncing around, and now he went with Kerwin to hook a tether to it and pulled it with all their strength until it flew open, this time catapulting both men into space.

Source: America Space.

Their tethers saved their lives again, and they even shared a good laugh about it with mission control.

Armageddon: The crew fixes a spacecraft's electrical system by beating it

The movie:

When the intrepid group of astronauts in "Armageddon" attempt to escape the huge meteorite approaching, the engines refuse to start. In desperation, one of the cosmonauts takes on the electrical system with a huge wrench and it worked!

The real life:

Astronaut Pete Conrad, after completing a series of adjustments to the solar panels on the Skylab station, a seized electrical relay threatened to render the crew's 28-day mission a bust. With a hammer in hand and fed up with all the harshness, he ventured out and hit the panel with the hammer. As crazy as it sounds, it worked: Power to the station was restored, and the very first mission to America's very first space station could resume as planned.

Pete Conrad and a space hammer.


Published on: March 2016
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