Yes, those of you who disbelieve...you're correct to do so.
I _AM_ a rocket engineer, having built, transported, erected, and launched Atlas rockets, which Farmer's rocket was based upon. The whole "build your own rocket" is absolutely implausible, as it took the might of the entire United States 10 years and billions of dollars to launch an Atlas successfully in the 1950's and 1960's, and in the 1990's, when I helped build and launch them, it took the full force of 40,000 engineers and technicians at General Dynamics and thousands of suppliers to get an Atlas built and launched.
Rocket fuel is a Medium Explosive. The Atlas of that time ran on highly refined kerosine (RP-1) and liquid oxygen (LOX), which are very expensive and hard to handle liquids. Regular people aren't allowe to buy this stuff, let alone could they afford it.
LOX turns anything burnable into a mini-bomb. A hydrocarbon (grease, wood, fuel, etc) soaked in LOX literally explodes if impacted, so all the LOX systems on a rocket must be completely hydrocarbon free during assembly. This means you can't clean it with any normal detergent...all cleaning and lubricating is done with flourocarbon based solvents and greases. It also means that you can't open the pipes any place where debris might enter. A barn is not a rocket assembly area.
The exhaust coming out of the engines is hotter than a blowtorch, and many times larger and more powerful. The concrete and steel of the launch pad are coated in ablative materials designed for the heat and cooled by huge sprays of water like firehoses. Even with those preps, it took 2 months to refurbish a launch pad after a launch due to blast damage.
All the structures within 1/4 mile of the launch in that movie would have been obliterated by the shock wave of sound from the engines. The heat would have scorched everything within a 100 yard radius.
I liked the acting in the movie, and there sure were some stars, but it should be classified as fantasy, because it's all impossible for one person to do.
Read more about my Atlas days here:
That's why I passed on seeing it. I didn't know the particulars as listed above (not even close) but I have enough technical grounding to know the concept to be utterly unbelievable and so I knew I'd just be looking at nonsense on the screen when I wasn't checking my watch. (Although Virginia Madsen in it came close to changing my mind) Apparantly that was the film's major deterrent for majority of film goers as well, as this film did poorly at the box office.
Actually, one recent and vaguely similar film with a not-so-outlandish premise was Clint Eastwood's "Space Cowboys". My only complaint in that film was they didn't lay out the premise a little more clearly. But still was plausable enough to give me a good ride!
Inability to suspend one's disbelief is an individual problem. I feel sorry for you. It's a movie.
"The value of an idea has nothing to do with the honesty of the man expressing it."--Oscar Wilde
I would have liked it much better if the story had featured him somehow acquiring a surplus rocket that had been finished but never launched, with him simply doing the (huge amount of) pre-launch prep work. Still implausible, but I could probably stretch suspension of disbelief that far.
probably would have gone better the route of a spacecraft more like the civilian spacecraft that launched a few years ago (ansari x prize). would that help you any?
I can clearly see how all of you didn't get the point of the movie.
While I greatly appreciate Mr. Gerard Forgnone's posting, I think we all need to be reminded that this movie was in no way a documentary, it was for entertainment and inspiration. The guy could have just as well always wanted to play baseball and finally got the chance, or written a best selling book. The whole point of the movie wasn't to re-create a homegrown NASA experience, it was to what it said on the rocket "The Dreamer". It's a story about a family pulling together to make a strong wish come true even though there is no financial payoff in doing so, cause that isn't the motive. It isn't about someone wanting to be a rock star because they want the fame.
Those that thought this movie was about how to build your own rocket, are mistaken what this story was really all about, "The Dreamer".
Sure it could have been about baseball instead. But if they'd made Field Of Dreams and gotten the basic rules of baseball wrong or had the players running around the bases in the wrong direction, baseball fans would raise hell, right?
The Astronaut Farmer really did that bad a job on the rocket science. For anyone who knew much about NASA or rockets, it completely tore us out of the story, screaming and wanting to throw things at the screen.
Launching Rockets is also a LOT more technical than baseball, so yeah, nitpicking really is not that fair. Going to space is something very ambitious, and honestly, this is the kind of movie that can inspire kids to become astronauts, even if the details are far off, that was not the point, as others have said. The point was to encourage people to pursue their dreams, even if they seem as impossible as going to space. Frankly, I would like to see more films that actively encourage people to try getting involved in science and certainly encourage people to support space exploration.
"Aw Crap!" - Hellboy