True Facts About Space That Movies Get Wrong All the Time

Hollywood practically never gets it right when aspiring to make the unreal something of a reality, and it's no different when it comes to facts about space that movies get wrong.

While movies tend to depict the space odyssey as a kind of epic tale in which the unattainable degrees of the cosmos and far flung worlds are inherently ignored, in real life that solar flare in deep space will kill you. Dogfights in space? No. What the movies have shown us over the years only really proves that we just don't know how space truly operates and the grand designs behind this makeup are left in even more secrets. 

Sadly, the truth about space tends to get ignored when it comes to the Hollywood blockbusters like Star Wars and others. Either their fact checkers are bad, science has been wrong this whole time, or the big time directors just don't care they're spewing inconsistencies, but the point is that movies don't look at the big picture anymore. While alien invasions and Death Star explosions are really neat in theory, getting them right on-screen only makes them more viable and touching to the viewer. As such, the following are only but a few facts about space that movies get wrong, so don't fall into the trap of believing them true. It is science fiction, after all. 

Black Holes

As witnessed in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, in which a character named Cooper falls through a black hole and returns several years in the future, these gargantuan pieces of cosmic wonder never get the true scientific backing they deserve. While Nolan did work tirelessly with astrophysicists in order to make his film as relatively close to reality as possible, there's still a bunch of facts about space that movies get wrong. 

Listen, what we know of black holes is very, very slim, and what we do know about them pales in comparison to all the mysteries surrounding black holesWe know that no light enters the event horizon of a black hole, which pretty much means nothing enters a black hole, making Cooper's grand dive into the ebon abyss that much more iffy. Oh, and whatever does enter a black hole practically gets crushed into nothingness. Sliding down a black hole doesn't sound so fun anymore, does it?

Solar Flares

Deep space is an entirely different scenario when dealing with the likes of alien species, massive asteroids, and, oh yeah, solar flares. Thanks to earth's magnetosphere, much of the highly damaging and dangerous forms of radiation are protected against, but in outer space? You will die. 

Another instance among facts about space that movies get wrong are these very ideas behind radiation and solar flares. While low earth orbit isn't as harmful as deep space, there's still much more protection against them thanks to earth atmosphere. Plus, objects like the Van Allen radiation belt aren't subject to instant death scenarios; rather there are intricate steps and maneuvers around them. As I said, there's still much and more for us to learn about space, in place of imagining. 


While it may only pertain to the technology of today, space suits are extremely bulky and heavy pieces of equipment. Luke Skywalker may independently jump into an X-Wing, like all of his fellow X-Wing pilots, but this is sadly another one of those facts about space that movies get wrong all the time. 

You can't just don a spacesuit all on your own, nor would you be able to fight in hand to hand combat within one, either. Spacesuits take at least two people to put on, and can be rather tricky to maneuver, even for veteran astronauts. They're also extremely uncomfortable, so if you see an astronaut in the movies wearing a spacesuit and looking snug, it's both improbable and downright implausible. 

The Effects of Microgravity

While traveling through deep space and living in between solar systems may seem like a remarkable and intriguing way of life, it's also extremely improbable, if not highly unlikely due to the effects that microgravity has on the body. This is only one of many facts about space that movies get wrong, because limited calcium levels can lead to kidney stones, bone loss, and even screws with your eyesight!

While the astronauts of today do things such as exercise 2-3 hours a day and maintain a healthy form of recovery from it, microgravity still serves as a relatively harmful con to spaceflight, which can inevitably cause muscle atrophy no matter how long you've been outside of the earth's gravity. 

Traveling at the Speed of Light

We've all seen it before: Han Solo or Captain Kirk sits back in the chair as either Chewie relents a hard grumbling noise, or Chekov simply says, "Aye, aye Captain," and the screen before us all turns into a bundle of streaking white stars, as if the entire cosmos were flowing on right before us. First off, stars don't streak like that in hyperspace. This NASA demonstration shows the optical effects of special relativity, but it also highlights how hyperspace travel looks more like you're trekking down a long tunnel. Unfortunately, jumping to light speed is among facts about space that movies get wrong all the time, too.

Traveling at the speed of light, thanks to Einstein, has been proven to be practically impossible by human standards, let alone future technology. Say we somehow do crack the code, or just figure out a way to tap into the traversal of light speed; the ship utilizing this power would be turned to interstellar dust, effectively making bits of nothingness out of the occupants inside. That's only if you come close to the speed of light, not even if you actually make it there. Moving faster than light would eradicate every fiber of your being, so I guess don't try it at home.

Leaving Earth's Atmosphere

You can't just hop into a plane or even a spacecraft and just fly off into space willy nilly; you'll either explode or freeze to death when incorrectly traversing through the earth's atmospheric layers. These events, which are additional facts about space that movies get wrong, fall under what is called atmospheric drag.

Hollywood never gets this right, unless they're making a biopic like Apollo 13 or something, but that's neither here nor there. When leaving the earth's atmosphere, there's a lot of functionalities to consider, from trajectory and tilt, to orbital velocity and gas molecules. There's no just flying straight up into the air; you have to take into account the air pressure, which can affect thrusters and wings, as well as the interior cabin. 

Space Battles

Remember at the end of A New Hope (and Return of the Jedi) when the Death Star seemingly explodes into oblivion, sending out a massive flare and ball of raging fire like no one has ever seen? Well, that's because no one ever will see anything like that; it's among many facts about space that movies get wrong all the time. Explosions in space don't look or happen quite like they do in the movies, but they are a little bit more magnificent, if not deadlier. First off, there's no oxygen in space! That means no combustion, meaning no pyrotechnics of any kind. Oh, and if you didn't know: there's no sound in space. Those whooping, ear-shattering fireballs of mass destruction you've seen in the movies is nothing more than Hollywood being Hollywood, as usual.

Minus the explosions, space battles wouldn't look like they do in Star Wars or Star Trek. First and foremost, when an X-Wing is, as portrayed in the movies, always using thrusters and maintaining the same velocity, the so-called space battle would be occurring literally across a solar system, not over the Death Star or some random planet. Oh, and banking? That sweet turn move Poe made in The Last Jedi isn't possible. Turning in space looks more like a car slipping and sliding on an icy road. Rather than literally banking a turn, X-Wings would more or less slip and slide across space. 

Interstellar Travel

While NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory wants to welcome you to the center of the universe, in all likelihood we will never see the center of the cosmos, nor will our children, and I highly doubt their children will either. Interstellar travel, while it may seem so grand and packed with amazing wonders, is so improbable it's literally laughable. First, the available technology of today (and even those being presented for tomorrow) don't even come close to what is needed for interstellar flight. Second, the costs for even designing and putting such a project into motion would be far too much for so little a return investment. 

Without accounting for the average life expectancy of a normal human, there's dangers like radioactivity, gravity waves, potentially hazardous asteroids, and solar flares. Practically everything listed here is a risk when attempting interstellar flight. I mean look at the moon landing itself; the odds of that event ever occurring again are slim to none. Sadly, interstellar flight is among many facts about space that movies get wrong all the time. Sorry, Chewie. 

Gravity Yanking Spacecraft Out of Orbit

If you've seen Star Wars or Star Trek, you've probably witnessed a form of space vehicle falling into a planet's atmosphere after losing its thrusters. This, by all means, is inconceivable. Gravity doesn't work the way it sounds, it does act as a vacuum within space, but that doesn't mean it just pulls you towards a planet at will, nor do objects seemingly just plunge into atmospheres. It's another one of those facts about space that movies get wrong all the time: gravity doesn't work like that!

First, depending on the planet's atmosphere, the object in question won't just fall through the layers like a penny off a high rise. Second, no spacecraft is withstanding the resistance of entering these layers without some form of return resistance, in other words total destruction. In Star Trek: Beyond, when the Enterprise just tumbles listlessly into the unknown planet, effectively losing bits and pieces of itself before turning into a raging fireball and crashing—no, this is rubbish. The Enterprise would effectively be nothing but charred remnants scattered across the planet, if even that. 

Zero Gravity Isn't Slow Motion

It's been used countless of times before, slow motion in the vacuum of space makes everything look as if it's in a laggy video game lobby. I've personally seen this sci-fi trope used in Event Horizon, Interstellar, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, but let's not forget it's among facts about space that movies get wrong all the time. Damn it, Stanley Kubrick!

Zero gravity actually means less pull and tension on objects. So, things would actually tend to go a tad bit faster in space, despite what Hal 3000 might say. The only reason astronauts look like they're moving a little bit slower than normal is simply because of those hulking suits they have to don. Like I mentioned before, spacesuits aren't the most fashion forward attire. If you've ever seen the interior of the International Space Station, you'd also know that things move a bit slower there, too. This is because astronauts remain as careful as possible. But, when it comes to spacecraft, acceleration is boggled down to the delta-v concept: as long as there's enough fuel, the mission is a go! No external forces means no worries, but that also doesn't mean everything is slow-moed to snail speeds.

Space is MASSIVE

Thanks to movies like Star Wars and Star Trek, an unfounded belief that the cosmos is a giant neighborhood of people and species alike has blossomed from these imaginations, but that's not the case. Space is literally just too big to fit a galactic senate or all-encompassing empire to rule over. There's too much to control even if this were viable, seeing that there are random satellites, floating ice rocks, and enough stars to outnumber the tiny bits of sand grains on earth. 

Among the facts about space that movies get wrong is the actual size of this gargantuan resting place, full of cosmic wonders and vacuum propensity. You don't need binoculars in space, because the odds of even seeing something through them are so slim it's pretty much a waste of time to even calculate the number, never mind the fact that you should never tell me the odds! Seriously though, space is infinite. That means there is so much bottled inside of it that practically anything within your imagination is possible, so I guess I just proved myself wrong...

Salvador Lorenz
Salvador Lorenz

Thinking in nodes of progress, futurism, science, culture, and existence. I experience life in a number of ways, pertaining to mathematical concepts mixed with rich flavors of art.

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True Facts About Space That Movies Get Wrong All the Time