In the amazing film, "The Martian", there is a montage sequence where everyone is figuring out how to get the Hermes resupplied for it's rescue mission of Space Pirate Mark Watney.

During this sequence, there is a scene where a NASA employee is, through a translator, telling a China National Space Administration that they are using obsolete ideas:

All due respect to your CNSA protocol... but we haven't done things that way... since Apollo 9.
[To Translator] Did he get that?

Apollo 9 being March 3, 1969, almost 60 years before the movie is set in (2020s~2030s).

What protocols is he critiquing here?

And considering Chinese Government restrictions on speech in movies (disparaging the Chinese Government vis-a-vis their national space program), how did this line make it into the final film? Or is it excluded from the Chinese release?

Had the movie likewise disparaged NASA in any way, they would have lost NASA support and the access to the NASA logos, here in the US.

1 Answer 1


The exact protocol in question is not defined, neither in the movie nor the book.

By Apollo 9, many procedures had been performed and documented; rendezvous, docking, transfers, launch windows, etc. but the protocols were no doubt tightened to increase safety margins. It could be any of these protocols.

If I were to guess, I'd say it would be something about launch or transfer timing. These are things that are incredibly specific and difficult to correctly predict months in advance.

  • 1
    Apollo 9 didn't leave earth orbit, but it was NASA's first docking of 2 manned vehicles.
    – iandotkelly
    Aug 11, 2016 at 5:16
  • Probably the docking into an open, manned airlock.
    – OrangeDog
    Jul 24, 2019 at 22:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .