When it comes to science fiction all eyes may be on 'Star Trek Into Darkness' right now, but last month's 'Oblivion' grabbed my attention and not just because it's one of the slickest sci-fi movies I've seen in years. No, what really grabbed my attention was NASA's hidden cameo — an appearance that sets up a pivotal plot point for the film.
"Oblivion" stars mega-star Tom Cruise as the glorified drone repairman Jack Harper, who serves as witness to an Earth ravaged and a moon destroyed in the wake of an alien invasion. There is A LOT going on in the film aside from the spectacular visual effects — it's amazing by the way, you should go see it — and that is where NASA comes in. NASA's cameo in "Oblivion" is actually revealed in the film's trailers, but if you blink you'll miss it. I know I did. There's a spot where Cruise's Harper runs up to what appears to be a stasis pod with a woman inside. What's that on the front? NASA's iconic meatball logo! What the What!? Is a NASA mission involved?
Later in the trailer, we see what is clearly some sort of spaceship cockpit, and it is strangely reminiscent of the flight deck of NASA's space shuttles. "Oblivion" has some extreme plot twists, so I can't go into more detail without revealing some crucial spoilers, but I will say that NASA's meatball logo is not the only space agency icon in the film. The woman Harper finds in the pod, Julia (portrayed by Olga Kurylenko) wears a flight suit through most of the film that is emblazoned with NASA's classic "worm" logo. If you stay through the credits of the film, you'll find out why that spaceship cockpit may resemble NASA's shuttle flight deck. It turns out former NASA astronaut Rick Searfoss, a retired space shuttle commander and Air Force colonel, served as a technical advisor. Searfoss spends his time these days as chief pilot for the private space plane company XCOR Aerospace.