Hollywood Hates NASA

Illustration for article titled Hollywood Hates NASA

It's a really bad time to be remaking the evil-NASA movie Capricorn One, what with NASA's budget under siege and the future of crewed spaceflight in doubt. The 1978 original played on conspiracy theories that the Moon landings were faked, with a story of a faked Mars landing. A new Capricorn seems both outdated and horribly timed, but director John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines) and writer Peter Buchman (Jurassic Park 3, Eragon) are determined to give it to us. Details, and spoilers for a 30-year-old movie, below the fold.


In the original Capricorn, starring Elliot Gould, OJ Simpson and other 70s stalwarts, NASA is all set to put the first men (no women, natch) on Mars. But then the psychotic space agency realizes that its Mars lander has a fatal flaw in its life support system. So NASA launches the craft, with no people on board, and keeps the astronauts prisoner for months. The astronauts are forced to act out fake Mars landings, and a technician notices their TV feed is arriving before the rocket's telemetry (which is impossible) — so naughty NASA makes him disappear. Eventually, the astronauts realize they, too, will have to die to ensure their silence. And sure enough, it's reported that they've "burned up on reentry." They stage a daring escape bid, but only one of them actually gets away, arriving at the astronauts' own memorial service to expose the hoax.

With the space shuttle program winding down and neither major-party presidential candidate committed to space exploration, can I just say I hope this movie burns in development hell? [Coventry Telegraph]

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This was a fun movie. I do remember, though, that they didn't originally plan to kill the astronauts. They forced them into faking the landing by threatening their loved ones. Then when the rocket burned up returning to Earth, they realized they were toast.

For some reason I always remember Warren Beatty being in this. I must have this and The Parralax View fused in my brain somehow. They're both 70s flicks, I guess.