“We Are Definitely Not Cowboys”: 23-Year-Old Clint Eastwood Movie Criticized By Real-Life Astronaut


Clint Eastwood’s Space Cowboys gets criticized by astronaut Chris Hadfield who jokes, “We are definitely not cowboys.” Featuring the all-star cast of Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner, the film follows four former test pilots who are recruited by NASA and sent into space to repair a Soviet satellite. The adventure drama, which was also directed by Eastwood, doubled its $60 million budget at the box office and was a critical success because of its stars and spectacular special effects. However, its portrayal of astronaut training is a different story.

In a video for Vanity Fair, Hadfield watched the centrifuge scene from Space Cowboys and reviewed it for its accuracy. There was a lot for the real-life astronaut to criticize, including the speed at which the centrifuge is spinning and how the fictional astronauts react to it. Hadfield concluded his commentary by emphasizing how much training is required for astronauts. Read a portion of his commentary or watch the video below:

The purpose of a centrifuge is not to make the astronauts black out. The maximum G load that the shuttle pulled was three. Three times the gravity that you’re feeling right now. And you don’t have to spin your centrifuge that fast to get up to three g. The G-force that they’re subjecting themselves to in this clip is completely unrealistic. When they show that sped-up video of that centrifuge spinning, the guys would’ve been turned to jello on the floor of the centrifuge.

The whole centrifuge would’ve come apart spinning that fast.​​​​​​​ And yet there’s Tommy Lee and Clint sitting there and for some reason, they’re both leaning to the left. ​​​​​​​If you suddenly weigh 15 times normal, you wanna sit straight upright.​​​​​​​ So all this huge weight of your head being crushed by the centrifuge is being supported by your spine.​​​​​​​ If they went over like that,​​​​​​​ they’d just crumple like an accordion down under their left hip.


​​​​​​​A lot of astronauts, especially early on in the shuttle era,​​​​​​​ they were military fighter pilot, test pilots, because you need those skills.​​​​​​​ You have to have gotten the university degrees,​​​​​​​ had all that thousands of hours of flying, and practiced and simulated and learned,​​​​​​​ so that you can go do something with an airplane nobody ever did before. But we are not thrill seekers.​​​​​​​ We’re not adrenaline junkies.​​​​​​​ We are definitely not cowboys.​​​​​​​ You need careful and thoughtful and well-trained and disciplined and teamwork-oriented people.​​​​​​​ Otherwise, you’re all gonna die,​​​​​​​ but you know, it’s Space Cowboy, so, saddle up, let’s ride this bronco.

How Accurate Is The Astronaut Training In Space Cowboys?

Of all the scenes that Hadfield reviewed in the video, which also include Top Gun: Maverick and For All Mankind, Space Cowboys probably provides the least accurate portrayal of astronaut training or space travel. The centrifuge scene fails on multiple levels and is unable to get any of the important details correct. The speed at which the device is spinning would’ve created an unrealistic level of G-force for the astronauts, who also mistakenly tilt their heads rather than sitting upright. In reality, they would’ve been killed during training before being sent into space to complete their mission.

Furthermore, the age of the astronauts in Space Cowboys is unrealistic, as astronauts are typically selected and trained in their prime years due to the physical demands and training required for space missions. The rapid training in the movie is especially unrealistic, as the rigorous and lengthy process takes about 20 years in Hadfield’s case. Overall, Space Cowboys takes several creative liberties regarding its portrayal of astronaut training, which is understandable considering its primary purpose was to capture the spirit of adventure associated with space missions.

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