‘Space Cowboys’ is an action-adventure film that follows four retired ace fighter pilots as they embark on a dangerous journey into space. With the iconic Clint Eastwood as the director, producer, and one of the leads, the film features a star cast of veteran actors that bring together a truly remarkable story that effortlessly encompasses the comedy, drama, and space adventure genres.
The film stays true to its name and depicts many space-related scenes that seem exceedingly authentic, including the time that the aged aspiring astronauts spend preparing for their flight into space. If you’re wondering where the filmmakers found the veritable locations to bring the film to life, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s where ‘Space Cowboys’ was filmed!
Space Cowboys Filming Locations
Eastwood claimed to want to make the film as authentic as possible. Therefore ‘Space Cowboys’ was filmed on location at facilities in Texas and Florida, both of which are major centers of space research. Filming also took place extensively in California, where scenes featuring the eponymous “cowboys” in space were also shot, making extensive use of special effects. Principal photography was initiated on July 19, 1999, and concluded on October 19, 1999. Let’s take a closer look at the film’s specific filming locations.
Los Angeles County, California
Filming took place extensively in Los Angeles County. The city of Santa Clarita was used for filming several scenes, with its neighborhoods of Canyon Country and Saugus featuring in multiple scenes. The Halfway House Cafe, located at 15564 Sierra Highway in Santa Clarita, and the nearby area of Agua Dulce also served as shooting sites. Lensing also took place at the Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park, located at 26101 Magic Mountain Parkway in Valencia, Santa Clarita.
The former Rockwell Defense Plant, situated near Bellflower Boulevard and Imperial Highway in the city of Downey in southeast Los Angeles County was used by the production team for filming. The iconic facility has since shut down.
The space scenes that required extensive use of special effects were filmed in Warner Brothers Studios at 4000 Warner Boulevard in Burbank in San Fernando Valley. Soundstages 22, 23, and 29 were particularly used to shoot several scenes of ‘Space Cowboys.’ Large and detailed sets were created for these scenes, including ones depicting the interiors of a space shuttle as well as a Russian satellite. The Mission Control set was reportedly constructed using actual blueprints from NASA.
Additionally, scenes of the characters experiencing weightlessness were also filmed in the production complex using a variety of techniques, including cable-work, platforms, and stools on wheels. Filament lines (which are difficult to see) were used to suspend objects and make the visuals more authentic.
Other Locations in California
The March Air Reserve Base, which is located in North West Riverside County between the cities of Riverside, Moreno Valley, and Perris, was used for filming scenes with the iconic Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” aircraft.
Scenes set in the Edwards Air Force Base were actually shot in the El Mirage Dry Lake in Victor Valley in San Bernardino County. The nearby city of Victorville was also seemingly used for filming. The Piru United Methodist Church, located at 3875 Center Street in the historic town of Piru in Ventura County, also features briefly in the film as one of the Parish of Tank Sullivan (James Garner).
The production crew spent a significant amount of time at the NASA Johnson Space Center, also known as the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, filming scenes of the four main characters preparing for their spaceflight. The incredible authenticity that the film showcases is a result of the actors undergoing many of the actual exercises that astronauts in training undergo at the facility, which is located at 2101 East NASA Parkway in the city of Houston.
The Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in the Sonny Carter Training Facility was one of the many facilities in the compound used in the production. The production team also utilized a nearby Outpost Tavern in Webster to film a bar brawl scene. Frequented by astronauts and the NASA community for over 20 years, the famous dive bar has since shut down.
The film got another significant boost in authenticity by filming that occurred at Cape Canaveral, which has been the site of multiple rocket launches. The Kennedy Space Center, located near Space Commerce Way on Merritt Island in Florida, was used to film scenes that feature the protagonists getting ready for their spaceflight and occupying the shuttle.
The actual launchpad, landing facility, and suit-up room used by real NASA astronauts appear multiple times in the scenes wherein the characters prepare for space.
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