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Space Camp is a family adventure movie from 1986 about a group of kids at a space camp who unexpectedly get launched up into space for real. However the Shuttle was still in pre-flight prepping thus wasn't prepared for any kind of full mission. With only a limited air supply and virtually no communication with Earth, the kids and their instructor (played by Kate Capshaw) must work together to get home safe and sound.
The movie is largely forgotten today and was critically panned upon its first release, due to the marketing nightmare that came about from the 1986 Challenger shuttle disaster that claimed the lives of seven American astronauts and grounded the shuttle program indefinitely until the cause could be determined and rectified. It didn't help, either, that the malfunction in the film partly resembled the malfunction in life.
Space Camp provides examples of:
- AI Is a Crapshoot: Although in this case it's more Artificial Stupidity rather than Artificial Malevolence.
- Almost Out of Oxygen: A major plot point. Twice.
- Ascended Fanboy: Max is an avid fan of Star Wars and will make numerous references to the franchise in nearly every scene he appears in.
- Batman Gambit: Jinx the robot tries to get Max into space while he's on the space shuttle "to fulfill his wish". He hacks into NASA's network and figures out how to fire up one of the shuttle's booster rockets, which on its own will cause the shuttle to shoot up briefly, then crash. However, his gambit is the operators at the control room will see the one booster firing up and choose to fire up the second booster to avoid killing everyone on board. Sure enough, it works.
- Conveniently Close Planet: The shuttle is launched outside of its launch window into an unplanned orbit -- but they still manage to make it to the unoccupied space station for supplies.
- Creator Killer: This was the final film to be made by ABC Motion Pictures.
- Did Not Do the Research: There are a number of instances regarding flight procedure and technical aspects of the space shuttle.
- Everyone Knows Morse: One of the campers thinks to use a telemetry switch to send Morse code in place of the nonfunctional radio. But it takes quite a while for anyone in the control room to notice that one of their console lights is rapidly blinking in an irregular pattern...
- Entendre Failure: Jinx the robot.
- Five-Man Band:
- Gone Horribly Right / Be Careful What You Wish For: "I wish I could go up into space."
- ~Hey, It's That Guy!~: The character Andie was played by Kate Capshaw from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
- Instant AI, Just Add Water: See Reed Richards Is Useless.
- Jerkass: Kevin. At the beginning of the film, he switches his credentials with those of another attendee, just so he could get to be with Kathryn. Also, in another scene, after he and Kathryn were discovered to be making out at the launchpad, he yells at Max for Jinx spilling everything.
- Like Reality Unless Otherwise Noted: In some ways the tech and abilities of the Space Camp NASA are ahead of us - there's a sentient robot, there's a space station already up in orbit with the necessary oxygen tanks - but when the plot demands it everything was at the level it is when the film was released.
- Literal Minded: Jinx the robot, who obeys any words to him that sound vaguely like a command. His ruthlessness to fulfill them makes him a...
- Literal Genie: Who sends the kids into space.
- No OSHA Compliance: NASA straps seven kids on the space shuttle unsupervised by a NASA employee, and seals the door. This is negligent even without being accidentally launched, no matter how good their grades at Space Camp were.
- Red Wire Blue Wire: Yep, to connect the oxygen tank.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Space Camp has a sentient, AI robot which is capable of bypassing failsafes to launch a shuttle, but NASA is still counting on the shuttle and mindless computers.
- Robot Buddy: Take a guess.
- Shout-Out: Count all the Star Wars references.
- Tap on the Head / Hard Head: Andie.
- The Eighties
- Things Get Real
- Too Soon: The film was released just months after the space shuttle Challenger disintegrated after takeoff.
- John Williams: He provided a very stunning score for this film.
- What Could Have Been: In the original script, a Russian Shuttle with Russian Kids would have rescued them. Remember this is still the time of the Soviet Union.