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Scott Manley in Stowaway


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I was watching a movie last night that popped up for me on Netflix, without really knowing anything about it, and first few seconds I thought I recognized a familiar voice. It turns out I was right. It was Scott Manley.

Apparently, Scott Manley did consulting for a big budget Netflix science film called Stowaway featuring Anna Kendrick and Daniel Dae Kim and several others. How did I not know this??

It was shockingly accurate. There are a couple of things I still have questions about, but for the most part it was every bit as accurate as The Martian, if not more.

Have any of you seen it?

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10 minutes ago, sevenperforce said:

It was shockingly accurate. There are a couple of things I still have questions about, but for the most part it was every bit as accurate as The Martian, if not more.

Have any of you seen it?

Yeah, I wrote about it in the bad science fiction thread.

I liked the cycler, but some things made me a little crazy. I thought it could have been better with some work.

Edited by tater
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Haven't seen it cause I don't have Netflix, but he did a video about his involvement just a couple weeks ago.

His name is in the end credits, under "scientific advisors".

Edited by SOXBLOX
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You'd be forgiven for missing Scott Manley's part in Stowaway- he has one line right at the beginning, during the go/no-go sequence.

The cycler concept itself has one irritating flaw in its design: why spin it at 1g when running at 0.3g is enough to prevent bone/muscle loss, reduces the strain on the cables, requires less energy to start/stop, matches Mars gravity and makes it easier to ascend to the central hub should the need arise. Few people would notice the difference if they said it was 0.3g but filmed in 1g, so I suspect the reason was purely for plot since

Spoiler

that makes it much more likely that they'd end up sliding down the tether too quickly to slow down and lose that tank of liquid oxygen, necessitating the second trip over to the booster during that solar storm

even though it would make more sense to run the centrifuge at 0.3g.

There's also the mystery of how that stowaway got there in the first place, considering

Spoiler

he's inside a sealed module, behind a panel that's screwed on, somehow wedged into the ship's one and only CO2 scrubber, so he couldn't have come from inside, but there's no hole in the outside of the module or the whole thing would just vent to vacuum and be inaccessible to the crew, so he couldn't have come from the outside either...

Sorry, but having one single device that does all the scrubbing for a multi-year interplanetary trip is a shockingly lax attitude to crew safety- there should be at least one full-sized backup on another module in addition to the LiOH powered system they end up using.

 

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Spoiler
1 minute ago, jimmymcgoochie said:

Sorry, but having one single device that does all the scrubbing for a multi-year interplanetary trip is a shockingly lax attitude to crew safety- there should be at least one full-sized backup on another module in addition to the LiOH powered system they end up using.

Yeah, I have similar observations in the comments I linked to.

Also the LiOH canisters (multiples aboard) were EACH larger than the critical part that failed by some margin. I think each canister could have been replaced with 3-4 of the critical parts that failed that did the job by itself, lol.

 

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3 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

I repeatedly see this value, but what is the source of it?

Afaik, no long-term centrifugal experiments have been provided.

0.38g is Mars, so if you are going to Mars, why not set the cycler for that so the crew is acclimatized?

As for the long term effects of g levels below ~1—yeah, there is exactly zero data.

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2 hours ago, tater said:

0.38g is Mars, so if you are going to Mars, why not set the cycler for that so the crew is acclimatized?

As for the long term effects of g levels below ~1—yeah, there is exactly zero data.

There have been 9 flights over 300 days at 0g, with the longest being 437 days (in Mir).  So there's quite a bit of  data for 0g, none for .38g (unless you are interested the 12.5 days at .166g that Apollo 17 did on the Moon.  Of course they also spent a similar amount of time at 0g, so I'm not sure how good that data would be for anything).

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There were a number of fairly interesting observations and a few issues.

The biggest issue, of course, is how Michael got onto the ship. No part of that makes sense. Obviously he had to somehow be trapped in their launch vehicle, not in the cycler. But he was located in the “functional module” which means...what? Is that supposed to be a reference to a habitable service module for the launch capsule? The launch capsule/vehicle is shown docked perpendicular to the cycler body (which means rather significant transverse forces on that docking ring, but whatever), so is it a biconic capsule? Does their capsule provide 100% of the life support for the cycler? That seems like a very bad idea. Why wouldn’t the cycler have a backup closed-loop ECLSS?

And how, for the love of all that is good and holy, does he “fall” from where the second-stage pins are INTO the “functional module” of the capsule? How??

Let’s think this through logically. He was obviously located inside of the pressure hull of what we must assume is a habitable service module. To have fallen into there, there are only two options. The first option is that the second stage separation pins can only be accessed through a crawlspace located inside the pressure hull of the service module but outside the main habitable region, and he had entered there and installed the pins and was climbing out when he slipped and fell and was knocked unconscious...and somehow no one noticed. The second option is that he was installing the pins prior to the capsule being affixed to the pressure hull of the service module, installed the pins, climbed back up, and then fell from the scaffolding into a space between the outer pressure hull and inner habitable compartment of the service module. Neither of those make even the slightest sense.

All of this would lead the viewer to consider the possibility that Michael stowed away on purpose. However, if we would be able to conclude that, how much more would the people at Hyperion?

There are a few other minor quibbles along the way. For example, they have a call out for “solar panel separation” when they clearly mean “solar panel deploy”. Also, in any real cycler mission, you would never launch for a fast rendezvous; you would ALWAYS launch at least a day in advance into a parking orbit. Otherwise any launch hold would mean an entire missed mission. Another thing: the Kingfisher upper stage which is (cleverly) used as a counterweight appears to have four landing legs, which makes no sense because it has exposed engines and is stated to have no meaningful propellant residuals anyway. And for heaven’s sake, how the heck are they not double clipped to the tether during the climb!??! ALL YOU NEED IS A SIMPLE CARABINER!!

Nevertheless, there are a few interesting Easter eggs as well. It seems very much that the company Hyperion is a non-government agency and is responsible for a Mars colony, which suggests they have a particular company in mind. The landing legs on the Kingfisher match that particular company’s design, and the name “Kingfisher” is the name of a bird which also has...implications.

It is clear that Scott did a lot for the film. The rate at which the Earth shrinks in the distance seems perfect. The Kingfisher has a lower LOX tank which is autogenously pressurized and has a residual GOX pressure of around 5 bar which is well within possible levels. Of course, I would expect a common bulkhead on the Kingfisher rather than an interstate between tanks, but that is minor. The gravity climb across the tether is represented extremely well despite the egregious lack of safety harness clips. The growing voice delay during communications seems accurate. The timing of the coronal mass ejection is of course a huge coincidence. Only having a 20-minute warning for the CME is a little suspect but I suppose if they were using Earth-based detectors it’s not completely out of the question. 

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He's not a human. He's a hypoxia.

Look at their shameful "greenhouse" in the beginning and later.
(Btw, this shameful "greenhouse" looks exactly like in Aniara. Maybe even same plastic bags.)

First the she-captain saw the Michael. Then others were following her description.

There are just three two humans on board.

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I've been trying to spoiler nitpicks.

Spoiler

The paty that failed is the size of a laptop? Slightly larger? Whatever. It's grossly smaller than the many, many LiOH canisters they carry as backup.

Also, said mission critical life support part is on the crew taxi vehicle, not the cycler. For reasons.

Then the thing demonstrably spins down. Old crew returns, separates on their vehicle (like the one Michael et al came up on), does EDL at Earth (dumping their counterwieght stage, presumably). Because when the crew transfer vehicle arrives (kingfisher) it seps the booster, docks the crew vehicle, then docks the booster. THEN spins back up. They could have despun the thing, then gone to the booster at their leisure.

 

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Saw some trailers, but didn't see the movie. It seemed like the basic setup was The Cold Equations, where the ship simply does not have enough resources for the extra person, and so the fundamental choice is one dies v. everyone dies. But since there were all kinds of action scenes and stuff, they must have had more to the plot than that.

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11 minutes ago, mikegarrison said:

Saw some trailers, but didn't see the movie. It seemed like the basic setup was The Cold Equations, where the ship simply does not have enough resources for the extra person, and so the fundamental choice is one dies v. everyone dies. But since there were all kinds of action scenes and stuff, they must have had more to the plot than that.

Exactly.

That story is really a sort of lifeboat story (with air vs eating the dead to stave off starvation, lol). The trouble is that it's really hard with redundancy to create a plausible plot device that doesn't just kill everyone or no one I think.

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1 hour ago, tater said:

Exactly.

That story is really a sort of lifeboat story (with air vs eating the dead to stave off starvation, lol). The trouble is that it's really hard with redundancy to create a plausible plot device that doesn't just kill everyone or no one I think.

In The Cold Equations, the problem is delta-v. The little landing boat doesn't have the fuel needed to land with the extra mass. And the stowaway can't land it herself, so even if the pilot wanted to sacrifice himself, it would have been useless.

Edited by mikegarrison
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16 hours ago, tater said:

0.38g is Mars, so if you are going to Mars, why not set the cycler for that so the crew is acclimatized?

As for the long term effects of g levels below ~1—yeah, there is exactly zero data.

1 g was obviously for practical reasons, its pretty hard to get 0.38 g without an spinning space station or going to mars, this would break the budget of the movie a bit :) 

 

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2 hours ago, mikegarrison said:

In Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars books, they tended to adjust spin rates from earth-g to mars-g over time on the way, and then did the opposite on a trip back to earth. Seemed like a good idea to me, if you could do it.

Yeah, this makes a lot of sense. Use the spin-gravity to acclimate, since you have a long coast period anyway. Of course a cycler tends to be a shorter coast period but still.

The mission was said to be two years so I’m assuming they’re on a single Aldrin cycler where they launch from Earth to catch it, then drop off on Mars, then launch from Mars again to catch the same cycler on its return leg. 

Here are the mission patches for all the prior operational launches in this universe...


Some interesting Easter eggs here.

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2 hours ago, mikegarrison said:

In Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars books, they tended to adjust spin rates from earth-g to mars-g over time on the way, and then did the opposite on a trip back to earth. Seemed like a good idea to me, if you could do it.

If anything I wonder if that'd be much worse since you'd be constantly acclimatizing... our sensory systems work by taking one value and holding it, this is why if you continuously rotate with your eyes closed then stop you'd have your reference rotating rather than stationary.

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5 hours ago, magnemoe said:

1 g was obviously for practical reasons, its pretty hard to get 0.38 g without an spinning space station or going to mars, this would break the budget of the movie a bit :) 

Meh, you can tell people it's not 1g, then forget about it unless you want a throw away effect where someone drops something and it falls slowly, or they lift something that should be heavier, etc.

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