The Big Bang Theory Took The Budget Route Toward Sending Howard To Space (But It Totally Worked)


The Big Bang Theory put effort into creating authentic storylines and attention to detail, ensuring extras didn't clash with the main cast.Howard Wolowitz's involvement with NASA allowed the cast and crew to geek out over aeronautical science.The show went all out to create a realistic NASA replica for Howard's space scenes, using a studio and props to make it believable.

was known for creating authentic storylines and paying attention to little details. Though they didn't always get things right, a lot of effort went into , and the main group of actors also had to follow seemingly arbitrary rules like


In the end, though, it was worth the effort and expense. That was especially true when it came to pulling off the storyline where Howard Wolowitz trains to become an astronaut and blasts off to space. Making the "space station" a reality was a challenge, but the result was a believable set that helped the audience buy into the story.

Howard Working With NASA Was A Major Plot Point

For Howard Wolowitz, his biggest storyline was his involvement with NASA. While it might have been one of the least believable scenarios of the entire series, according to viewers, Howard going to space allowed the cast and crew to really geek out over aeronautical science.

Small details like a custom embroidered mission patch (with text so small that viewers at home would never know it said "Magnus Crepitus Theoria"—Big Bang Theory—below the image) let the team "geek out," and bringing a real astronaut in made things even more believable.

The crew also worked hard to ensure that the episodes featuring Howard in space weren't campy or unbelievable. Rather than skipping Howard's space scenes entirely, or faking a set that was simple if not realistic, went all out to find a way to make its own NASA replica.

In which episode does Howard go to space?

When Howard finally gets to space, it's during "The Countdown Reflection," which was the 24th (and last) episode from the fifth season. Howard's storyline with space does start earlier; in "The Russian Rocket Reaction," he is invited to work with NASA to install a telescope his team designed.

"The Russian Rocket Reaction" was the fifth episode in the fifth season of . From there, Howard's upcoming space trip is referenced multiple times, then he is seen attending astronaut training in "The Werewolf Transformation."

Where did they film the space scenes in Big Bang Theory?

The outer space scenes were filmed in a studio, just like the rest of

. The , California.

How Did 'The Big Bang Theory' Make Howard Look Like He Was In Space?

Was Howard Wolowitz actually in space? No, but plenty of viewers thought he might have been!

brought a real-live astronaut on set to help sell Howard Wolowitz's adventures at NASA, so they were clearly invested in the storyline. Mike Massimino played Howard's fellow astronaut, but it wasn't just the scenes on Earth that helped make the storyline a bit more believable, given the .

The 'outer space' scenes looked pretty believable, even if Howard getting there wasn't so much.

Fortunately for the production crew, it wasn't as complicated (or expensive) as viewers might think to make Howard look like he was in space.

John Shaffner, the production designer behind , explained that the show . They thought a replica of a Soyuz spacecraft might exist, and if it did, they wouldn't mind paying a pretty penny to borrow it.

Shaffner discovered there were no replicas out there, at least not that his team could find. They set to work creating their own Soyuz replica (at least the inside of it), but that proved to be a tough job.

When a space station became available, though, that meant the replica idea was shelved.

Instead, the team reviewed footage of the actual Soyuz capsule and attempted to replicate what it was like on the inside with props and equipment.

Ultimately, the set became pretty convincing, and the episode went full speed ahead.

The Big Bang Theory Used Props To Make The Actors Appear Weightless

Weightlessness was the second most difficult part of making Howard look like he was a real astronaut orbiting the Earth. Instead of using wires or even CGI, like many superhero films might use to 'suspend' actors,

went simpler.

Their solution to creating an anti-gravity capsule was to support actors on a "long, sort of skinny platform." That way, an optical illusion made it look like the actors were "swimming through in weightlessness," according to Shaffner.

The production designer also credited the actors with selling the whole thing, because they "studied" how to act out weightlessness. It probably also helped that Mike Massimino already knew what it was like to be weightless, so despite not being an actor himself, he was able to create a convincing performance, too.

But if viewers look closely during "" sc they can see that Howard does appear to be sitting down, versus floating weightlessly, during his 'in space' scenes.

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