In an October 24, 2013 piece in the Huffington Post, economist and commercial space advocate Greg Autry complained about the lack of any commercial spacecraft in the recent film “Gravity” that depicted American astronauts trapped in low Earth orbit.
“However, Cuarón might have maintained Gravity's sense of realism and captured relevance by flying our heroine to orbit in one of America's new commercial spacecraft. A SpaceX Dragon capsule, Boeing CST-100 or Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser space plane would have offered an exciting and modern space transportation choice. While private spacecraft might sound like science fiction to some, these vehicles, along with their proven launch systems, the SpaceX Falcon 9 and United Launch Alliance Atlas V, are very real solutions currently undergoing NASA certification and testing in preparation for manned flights in the next few years. Orbital Sciences has recently demonstrated that their Antares rocket is fully ISS capable launch system and it could potentially be paired with any number of commercial orbiters underdevelopment. The innovation and efficiencies created by a competitive free marketplace are already driving a renaissance in spaceflight that will sweep aside the film's clunky Soviet era Soyuz and the Chinese knockoff, Shenzhou.”
It is remarkable that it took this long for the complaint to be made, considering the zeal of some commercial space advocates. None of the commercial alternatives under development are ready to fly people into space, but as Autry suggests that would have been a minor matter for a film, while wonderful in every cinematic aspect, did violence to both history and physics. On the other hand, neither of those future spacecraft are quite as visually impressive as the space shuttle orbiter.
On the other hand, an alternate ending, with Elon Musk personally flying a crewed Dragon to rescue George Clooney and Sandra Bullock would have a certain deus ex machina charm.
Even so, Autry has an idea for the sequel. “We look forward to seeing Bullock relaxing on a safe, commercial flight to a commercial Bigelow space habitat in Gravity 2.”
Safe? What would be the fun in that?