In the wake of Gravity’s success at the Academy Awards this weekend, interest in space exploration is now higher than it’s been at any point in the past ten years. But if anything, the film teaches us that space is an incredibly dangerous place. It’s certainly no place for safety-conscious human beings like you and I.
To help dissuade you from a career as an astronaut, here are some of the fatal pitfalls you can expect to find in the cold void of space.
1. Xenomorph Eggs (Alien)
The crew of the mining ship Nostromo (a glorified space truck) is awoken from medically-induced sleep to investigate a strange planet. Once on the surface, they discover a chamber packed full of oozing eggs and the mummified remains of a space jockey. Do they do the sensible thing and immediately hightail it out of there? Do they heck!
Staying safe: If you stumble on something that looks like it comes straight out of Dante’s Inferno, for heaven’s sake just leave it alone!
2. Religious Fanatics (Sunshine)
The Icarus II and its crew are headed to the centre of the solar system on a mission to save our dying Sun. The crew locate the distress signal of Icarus I, their failed predecessor. Boarding the ship, they discover its video log, in which the derelict’s captain (Mark Strong) admits to abandoning the mission in a fit of religious zeal. Apparently, the journey to the Sun broke his brain: convincing him that he was destined to do the divine work of Amun-Ra, or whatever Sun God he had taken to worshipping.
Staying Safe: NASA or whomever, really need to up their game when it comes to psychologically profiling their astronauts. Seriously. First there was that woman who stalked her lover wearing a diaper, and now they’re putting the fate of mankind in the hands of an unstable madman. Good work, the psychiatric profession!
3. Malfunctioning A.I. (2001: A Space Odyssey)
Bound for Jupiter aboard Discovery One in the year 2001, scientists Dave Bowman and Frank Poole are accompanied by their ship’s talking computer, HAL 9000. As computers go, HAL is pretty prideful: constantly harping on about how he’s ‘foolproof and incapable of error’. When Dave and Frank begin to suspect HAL’s made a mistake in reporting equipment failure, they consider shutting him down to prevent any further corruption.
As you might imagine, HAL’s not so keen on that plan.
Staying safe: Make sure your computer’s reset button is easily within reach at all times. If he starts giving you lip about ‘primary mission objectives’ or some such gubbins, just flick the switch and restore his factory settings.
4. Isolation (Moon)
Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is the sole operator of a mining station located on the Moon. Approaching the end of his 3-year mission, he starts slipping into hallucinatory trances. Also, despite his talking computer’s insistence that nothing is wrong, he suspects that something is deeply wrong. Is there a nefarious conspiracy against Sam, or is he merely suffering from acute cabin fever?
Staying Safe: Never accept solo missions into outer space, no matter how good the money is. Also, do not trust your talking computer (see above).
5. Space Debris (Gravity)
Astronauts Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) are on a routine shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Things are ticking along fine until they find themselves under assault by an errant cloud of debris caused by a Russian missile. With their shuttle completely destroyed, they find themselves lost in space with little hope of getting back to earth safely.
Staying safe: If all the world’s space agencies disposed of their space garbage in a more responsible manner, we wouldn’t be living in fear of killer litter. Write your local MP about this.
6. 1990s Gary Oldman (Lost in Space)
Apart from the fact that it starred a Friends-era Matt LeBlanc, most people remember very little about the 1998 film of the classic TV show Lost in Space.
In the year 2058 (which is laughably close to now) the Robinson Family are set to become space pioneers. Heading off into the cosmos to colonise a new planet, their ship is sabotaged by sneaky stowaway scientist Gary Oldman. When they find him, instead of pushing him out the airlock, these geniuses choose to trust this beady-eyed interloper. They even allow him to spend time with their youngest child, Will. If only they’d seen Leon or The Fifth Element or True Romance or Air Force One, they’d know better than to trust this prolific 90s villain.
Staying Safe: If Gary Oldman has mad hair and sweats a lot, avoid him at all costs.
It’s really not that hard to tell.
7. The Memory of Lost Love (Solaris)
At the behest of his scientist friend, widowed psychologist Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) has been summoned to a space station orbiting a distant planet. Once he arrives, he discovers his mate has committed suicide in mysterious circumstances. On his first night, his dead wife appears at the station, much to his confusion. You see, the planet has a way of bringing back your loved ones. More precisely, it resurrects them based on your memory of them. Kelvin soon learns that in a place where death has no dominion, grief is a pretty difficult emotion to process.
Staying Safe: Hmm… How does one avoid the manifested memory of a deceased wife? A better question would be why space agencies keep hiring astronauts with recent histories of psychological trauma? (Again, see above)
8. Intergalactic Diplomacy SNAFUs (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
The crew of the Enterprise have been sent on one final mission: to broker a peace agreement with their long-time enemies, the Klingons. Captain Kirk invites the Klingon delegation for dinner aboard his ship, after which Enterprise mysteriously opens fire on their guests and two people in Starfleet uniforms murder the Klingon Chancellor. As a result, Kirk and Bones are sentenced to life in a labour camp. Whoops! I guess that’s why this sort of thing is normally handled by diplomats and not some space-jock best known for sleeping with green women.
Staying Safe: In these kinds of situation, two words will ALWAYS get you out of trouble:
Gravity is now available at blinkbox in HD.
Once you’ve seen that, check out the incredible space films in our Gravity Collection