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October 7th, 2013
07:46 PM ET

NASA astronaut gives sci-fi movie "Gravity" a thumbs up

The much anticipated science fiction thriller movie "Gravity" made its box office debut, and the response was, er, out of this world.

The movie scored more than $56 million, making it the biggest October opening in history.

"Gravity" is about two astronauts who get stuck floating through space. Thanks to some dazzling special effects, movie goers get to tag along for their frightening and lonely journey hundreds of miles above Earth.

While audiences are clearly captivated, astronauts and space buffs alike watched some parts of the movie with smirks and sighs.

NASA astronaut and visiting Columbia University professor Michael Massimino said some scenes in "Gravity" were unlikely, such as travelling between certain places in space.

Being intentionally vague because he didn't want to spoil the movie for potential viewers, Massimino said, "The things that they did, the way they were able to go from place to place, would not be as easy as they showed."

But there were several spot-on depictions.

"What I was amazed at was the detail, the accuracy of things like the Hubble Space Telescope, the Space Shuttle, our payload bay. I saw some of my tools floating behind (actress) Sandra Bullock's head," Massimino said in an interview on "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

"I was wondering where those tools went. I guess they used them for the movie," the astronaut said, jokingly.

The movie's success comes at a time when NASA is facing major cuts. "Gravity" shows the Space Shuttle, which no longer flies.

Currently nearly all NASA workers are furloughed because of the government shutdown. Space work in general is underfunded.

Asked if the hype of this movie could end up drumming up renewed support for NASA, or inspiring a new generation interested in space travel, Massimino responded, "That's really my greatest hope out of this."

"A movie like this really increases people's awareness. After you see the movie, go find out what we're really doing in space. Because that's exciting, too," said Massimino .

As for the astronaut's overall rating of the film?

"I enjoyed it. I think that it's hopefully going to be a good thing for the space program," he said.

The Columbia University professor is quick to add that he is not a film critic, so take his enthusiasm with a grain of salt. Still, it's a pretty ringing endorsement for "Gravity," from a real-life astronaut.

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