Space Cowboys
Reviewed by David Kashimba

Space Cowboys brings together four of America’s favorite actors – Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner – as four former Air Force test pilots who missed their shot into outer space in 1958 when NASA replaced them with a chimpanzee. But when the old Russian satellite Ikon suffers a systems failure, it’s discovered that Ikon has the same guidance system as early American satellite Skylab that was designed by the now retired Frank Corvin (Eastwood).

How did an American design end up on a Russian satellite? This becomes one of the key questions in this film about these four retired test pilots who are asked by NASA to go into space and fix Ikon.

While essentially a comedy about old people outdoing all the young NASA studs, this film has a lot of heart and the excellent comic performances by the entire cast carry a touching humanity that draws the audience into their world. In addition to these fine performances, their world rings with an added validity due to the full cooperation of NASA. Many segments of this film, which was also directed by Eastwood, were produced both at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, and the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, FL.

“I wanted to make the film as believable as possible,” Eastwood explains. “In order to do that we needed NASA’s help to get as close as we could to the circumstances surrounding a launch… (T)he agency really came through for us. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.” NASA, in turn was well pleased with the accuracy of the film. Eastwood’s attention to detail really paid off particularly with the outer space sequences. Though creating a fantasy outer space world such as the one created for the Star Wars films was not easy, the task of recreating reality based space scenes, like ones we’ve all seen transmitted to earth by NASA’s space ventures, was an even greater challenge.

This is a well-crafted film that audiences will also be pleased with.

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