Thunderbirds aren't go

On Saturday night I went to see the new Thunderbirds movie with Megan and Peter despite it being described as "Spy Kids minus fun" in one review. It certainly wasn't the best film of the year although visually it was very good; they did a good job creating the vehicles and sets. From a bad physics/astronomy point of view, they do get let off on some points as they were sticking to the original series. However there are a few problems which are just down to a lack of thought.

At one point we have Jeff Tracey and his sons stuck on the space station Thunderbird 5. They seem to walk on the 'floor' when they arrive but after they get attacked (sorry to spoil it but it is a bit predictable) and loose power, they become weightless. Perhaps the simulated 1G is due to the station spinning - we see an outside shot a few times - but surely the station would keep spinning when the power fails. As an aside, a spinning station makes it very difficult to dock on the outer wheel which we see Thunderbird 3 doing earlier on. This reminded me of Armageddon when the two shuttles dock with a spinning MIR.

Without control systems, the station starts falling towards Earth and is finally saved when power is restored seconds before re-entry into the atmosphere. This would put it about 100 kilometres above the surface, but we then hear (a couple of seconds later), that the station has been moved back to geostationary orbit. Now, as geostationary orbit is about 35,000 km (22,000 miles) above sea level, that means they have gone about 22,000 miles in two seconds! Hmmmm.

The Thunderbirds website also makes a blunder in the specifications for Thunderbird 3 (requires flash). On the website they claim that its maximum velocity is 5,000 mph but this is only a fifth of the speed required to reach escape velocity and, strangely, one third of the speed of Thunderbird 1.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Monday 02nd Aug 2004 (00:17 UTC) | Permalink
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