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Debris (Gravity)

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The Debris is the main antagonist of the 2013 thriller film Gravity.

The debris from Gravity is a very real possibility, known as the Kessler Syndrome, which discusses the probability of a domino effect in cascading space junk.


During the fictitious STS-157 mission, a group of astronauts are repairing the Hubble Space Telescope when Houston sends an urgent message: the astronauts need to return to the ship immediately because a cloud of space debris is hurtling right for them at over 50,000 miles per hour and wiping out everything in its path. Created from miscellaneous weather, communications and broadcasting satellites, the debris is the result of a Russian satellite has self-destructed and resulted in a chain reaction, creating a miles-long field of shrapnel hurtling around the Earth's orbit. The debris hurtles forward through space towards the shuttle, traveling faster than a rifle bullet. As the astronauts try to evacuate, the first bits of debris begin to pepper the Explorer – striking the flight engineer, Shariff Dasari, and sending him off into space, the only thing catching him is the tether. The storm of debris rips through the ship and destroys the structure, sending Dr. Ryan Stone off into the void. Matt Kowalski, shielded by a large chunk of the structure, continues issuing commands to Ryan – insisting that she detach herself from the structure or else be carried too far from the shuttle. Already he cannot see her anymore. Stone complies and releases the strap only to be flung even further out into space. Kowalski retrieves Ryan after some time and they find that Shariff has been killed after the debris punctured through his helmet. They return to the shuttle and find the other crew members dead from exposure to the vacuum of outer space, the debris having destroyed the shuttle and ripped it open. With all the communications satellites wiped out by the debris field, the two surviving astronauts are left stranded in space, trying to avoid the debris before it completes another orbit in 90 minutes.

Later on, after Dr. Stone reaches the International Space Station, she finds her watch is almost out of time; the debris is getting near at an exponential space. Now inside the Soyuz Capsule, Dr. Stone attempts to flee the ISS before it is crushed by the debris field, only to get tangled in the cables of an accidentally deployed parachute leftover from the first debris strike. Trapped in the vacinity of the ISS and time running out, Dr. Stone is forced to change into a spacesuit and go back into space to fix the problem. Stone does so but the debris circles back around, now horrifyingly larger and more powerful from having collected many more satellites. The catastrophic impact finally destroys the ISS and nearly kills Stone, who remarks how much she hates space as she witnesses the remaining pieces of the ISS drift away. Dr. Stone resets her watch upon getting back into the Soyuz and eventually is able to travel to the Chinese Tiangong station some distance away. As the Soyuz capsule flies forward, Ryan sees that the station has been greatly damaged by the debris and is sinking rapidly into the atmosphere. Stone also notices that she will miss the station by several meters. Unable to dock the Soyuz with the Tiangong, she retrieves the fire extinguisher she used to fight the fire on the ISS, she blasts open the airlock with pyrotechnics via explosive decompression and is thrown out into space. Using the fire extinguisher to propel herself towards the Chinese space station, she slams into it and manages to hang on as the Tiangong drops faster through the Earth's atmosphere and begins a rapid descent. The debris field reappears in the distance, racing towards her as she begins her climb to the airlock while the station begins to break apart. Stone manages to get inside the airlock right as the debris arrives and tears apart the Tiangong, finally pushing the damaged station into the Earth's upper atmosphere, causing it to disentegrate upon re-entry, bringing Dr. Stone back to Earth. Although Dr. Stone survived to tell the tale, many people were killed as a result of the debris, two space stations were completely destroyed and the debris wiped out almost all of the satellites in low-Earth orbit, ending the possibility of further space travel for several generations. 

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