Highlights The Big Bang Theory took creative license with Howard's storyline of becoming an astronaut, even though there were factual errors in his path to getting there. Howard's astronaut training on The Big Bang Theory was filled with comedic moments, but realistically, he wouldn't have passed muster to graduate from NASA. Despite Howard's various health problems and lack of typical physical abilities, he still went to space on The Big Bang Theory due to being asked to accompany the mission as a specialist.
Even the most passionate The Big Bang Theory fans have forgiven the show for making a few minor mistakes in its storylines. From Sheldon's one-time cat allergy to the eerily familiar Friends-esque storylines, the show wasn't exactly perfect.
Yet most viewers wouldn't necessarily notice a few minor errors in The Big Bang Theory, at least not when it comes to science. After all, the crew had an actual scientist to fact-check their work, with Chuck Lorre sending scripts to their Antarctica-based expert, meaning most of the time, things made sense.
Mayim Bialik also had a behind-the-scenes gig as a consultant for the team. However, BBT took some creative license with a particular storyline, and it's not like fans didn't notice.
Howard Wolowitz gets to realize a dream in The Big Bang Theory, when he is invited to join NASA and head to space. In the last episode of the fifth season of the show, Howard goes to space in "The Countdown Reflection."
The show even tapped an actual astronaut, Mike Massimino, to appear in the episode. By the time Howard actually went to space, viewers were pretty comfortable with the idea that he was becoming an astronaut.
Even though his path to get there was fraught with nerves and disapproval from both his mom and later, his new wife Bernadette, Howard's going to space was a turning point for his character.
Of course, Howard never should have been allowed to go to space in the first place.
The Big Bang Theory covered Howard Wolowitz's astronaut training fairly thoroughly, garnering plenty of laughs in the process. Howard tells Bernadette over their video chat that he puked while experiencing anti-gravity, and during an overnight survival training, he gets cozy with an armadillo.
By the end of the episode, Howard has ditched out on his training and gone to see his mom, who coddles him for a bit until Bernadette arrives, planning to do the same.
The episode didn't earn rave reviews, though millions of viewers tuned in. Critics didn't necessarily love Howard's subplot, the "third string story line," and various commenters wrote that the storyline dragged on too long.
Jim Garner at TV Fanatic suggested, "Could we go ahead and shoot Howard in to space and be done with it?" Garner accurately predicted that Howard's trip to space would take place in the season finale while confirming that the episode was probably one of the least amusing of the entire season.
What episode did Howard do astronaut training? Episode 18 of season five; "The Werewolf Transformation."
Given everything that happened during his training, though, Howard never should have made it to space. From ditching out on his training to stay in a hotel with his mom to his less-than-adaptable reaction to weightlessness, Howard likely wouldn't have passed muster when it came time to graduate from NASA.
Then again, he technically wouldn't have been accepted in the first place.
Unfortunately for Howard, he technically shouldn't have gone to space, and it was actually pretty dangerous for him to do so. In the description of Howard's character, it's always been brought up that he has various health problems.
From being asthmatic to having an arrhythmia, Howard Wolowitz isn't the healthiest guy out there. He also has a life-threatening allergy to all types of nuts, which could be a simple enough dealbreaker (tubed-up PB&J would have to be banned for the whole space crew).
In addition, Howard also lacks the typical physical abilities of an astronaut. He's 'bragged' about having three percent body fat, which would mean that his Body Mass Index (BMI) is likely very low.
Technically, Simon Helberg's BMI (at a height of about 5'6" and an estimated weight of 130 pounds) would mean his BMI is around 21; the average astronaut's BMI is 23.5 to 25.8.
But even if the Big Bang crew didn't get out their BMI calculators to determine whether Howard could actually qualify to become an astronaut, his pre-existing health conditions would be reason enough for NASA to simply skip over his application.
All Big Bang Theory viewers understand they have to suspend their disbelief for the show to, overall, make sense. The team was aware enough to draw some parallels between the characters and their real lives, which helped make some storylines more believable.
Still, there are some reasonable explanations as to why Howard got to go to space even though he shouldn't have been able to.
The biggest "well duh" is that Howard was asked to accompany the mission to install a sensitive piece of equipment that his team designed. It's not unheard of for NASA to require specialists for specific missions, though they typically still look for people in "excellent" physical health.
If The Big Bang Theory really wanted to make Howard's storyline believable, they could have started with some background, highlighting that Howard was the only expert available to support the mission.
They also could have avoided giving him various health conditions—or at least some that wouldn't impact his ability to go to space—from the show's beginning.