Details at this point are still scarce, but if all goes according to plan, Cruise will fly to the space station aboard one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Dragon capsules to film the movie, making him the first actor to make a feature film in space. (Several IMAX documentaries have already been filmed in space, as well as this cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” by astronaut Chris Hadfield.) “Edge of Tomorrow” director Doug Liman has reportedly signed on to the project as well.
Not to be outdone, Russia’s Roscosmos space agency announced it is looking for a Russian actress to film its own movie in space, before Cruise. It’s a race to send a star to space.
Beam me up, Scotty!
Even if all goes according to plan, Tom Cruise will not be the first movie star to travel to space – technically. A tourist who paid to visit the International Space Station recently revealed that he smuggled the ashes of the actor who played the original Scotty from “Star Trek” onto the spaceship.
Richard Garriott is a video game entrepreneur who reportedly paid $30 million to fly to space on a 12-day mission in 2008. (His father, Owen Garriott, was a NASA astronaut who lived aboard the Skylab space station and later flew on the space shuttle.)
According to Garriott, he secretly took a card with James Doohan’s picture and laminated ashes with him to space, where he tucked it under the floor of the space station’s Columbus module. Since being left aboard the ISS, the station has orbited the earth more than 70,000 times.
Doohan played chief engineer Montgomery Scott on the original “Star Trek” TV series and reprised the role for several of the ensuing movies featuring the original cast. He died in 2005 at age 85.
The request to fly the actor’s ashes to space had been previously denied twice. Dust and debris are a serious issue in a zero-g environment because even the smallest particles getting loose means you risk getting a speck in your eye. Of course, had it been Leonard Nimoy’s ashes, that would be a Spock in your eye.
In 1976, several “Star Trek” cast members, including Doohan, visited NASA for the rollout of the Space Shuttle Enterprise, which was named in honor of the show. Although the shuttle never flew in space, it was built for aerial tests and it is officially considered part of the fleet.
Pornography on the moon
James Doohan’s ashes are not the first contraband flown into space; astronauts have a long history of smuggling stuff aboard spaceships that they are not authorized to bring with them on missions. Astronaut John Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich aboard on Gemini III (resulting in crumbs floating around the capsule). Apollo 15 astronauts smuggled souvenirs with the intent of selling them later, which resulted in a reprimand from NASA and none of them flew in space again.
The Apollo 12 mission included pornography. Pranksters at NASA inserted photocopies of pictures of nude women from a Playboy magazine into the official checklist the astronauts wore on the cuffs of their spacesuits worn during their EVA on the surface of the moon. The pictures included captions such as “Seen any interesting peaks and valleys?” On the audio recordings from the mission, you can hear the astronauts suddenly bursting out in laughter for no apparent reason.
Actors mock Space Force for ripping off movie franchises
Soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, guardsmen… guardians?
Vice President Mike Pence announced that members of the new Space Force will be called “guardians” so he is now being mocked by Hollywood for the obvious comparison to the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie franchise. (Hey, at least the Defense Department didn’t go with “spacemen.”)
“Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill responded to Gunn, “So they grab the ‘Guardians’ from your movies, they use the ‘Force’ from our movies…then they have the gall to just steal their logo from ‘Star Trek’? Let’s file a three-way joint lawsuit and really nail these larcenous bastards!”
He also included the hashtag #MayTheDorksBeWithYou. (What’s with these comic book/ sci-fi nerds having the gall to call other people dorks?)
“Star Trek” actor William Shatner said that it wasn’t a rip-off of the Star Trek logo, but rather a Pontiac logo turned upside down. He replied: “Sorry @HamillHimself & @JamesGunn but Starfleet has to sit this one out because the symbol is actually an upside down Pontiac car logo. Maybe GM is building their fleet?”
Mockery aside, having a branch of the military specifically dedicated to protecting vulnerable space-based assets is a good idea, so that we don’t have a Pearl Harbor in space. If a foreign power were to destroy our satellites, they could devastate our communications systems, GPS, spy reconnaissance capacity, and ability to spot missile launches. In fact, we should probably go a step further and create a branch of the military to focus specifically on cyber threats, as these are far more worrisome than the idea of a WWII-style tank battle in Europe.
UNDERRATED MOVIE RECOMMENDATION:
“Edge of Tomorrow” is a 2014 movie that is a sci-fi version of “Groundhog Day.” It stars Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt fighting off an alien invasion of earth, with Cruise stuck in a repeating time loop. (The movie also features Bill Paxton.) The movie fared poorly when it first came out, largely due to a failed marketing strategy, but has since gained popularity and recognition based on the strength of the story and the way it was edited. Terrific movie. 10/10. Far better than Cruise’s other sci-fi adventure “Oblivion” which came out around the same time.