Director and co-writer Justin Lin, who is also considered the architect behind the series post-Tokyo Drift, revealed in a feature with Vulture that the team consulted NASA when it came time to send some of the characters into space. There’s been plenty of ridiculous set pieces throughout the franchise, and F9 even includes Vin Diesel swinging his grapple hook-equipped car over a chasm, but Lin said “going to space was not something I took for granted or I was very flippant about.” In other words, he knew taking the cast of characters past the stratosphere was a big deal.
“It is something that I did have a lot of conversations about," Lin revealed. "A lot of conversations. And it went from rocket scientists laughing, going, ‘What the fuck?’ to us saying, ‘Well, can this really happen? If other rocket scientists have to get up there and the capsules are coated with these polymers? Blah blah blah.’ This is something that was thought out. If anything—logistically, scientifically—it’s one of the most sound action set pieces in our franchise.”
As previously indicated in trailers for the film, Tyrese and Ludacris’ characters Roman and Tej head into space in a homemade spaceship of sorts. The idea originally started as a joke, pitched by executive producer Josh Henson and visual effects supervisor Alexander Vegh.
"Kind of as a joke, we put together a pitch that looks like, ‘Okay, Dom and the gang go to the moon, and they race cars; they’re racing cool rovers on the moon and Dom wrecks his rover. And the bad guy’s about to get away, but he’s just at the Apollo 11 site. And he finds the original moon rover, and he’s racing,’” said Henson, in what sounds like a major missed opportunity. “We kind of did it as a joke, and we pitched it to Justin, and we had a good laugh. But then Justin’s like, ‘Well, maybe there’s something there.’”
As Lin put it, he spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best way to send the characters into the final frontier, and he “got on the phone with NASA scientists” in order to “pick their brains how to do it.” Of course it helps make the whole situation more believable considering the spaceship featured in the film, which is naturally just a decked-out car, was made by three rocket scientists characters. Better yet, one of them is played by Bow Wow, who reprises his character from 2006’s Tokyo Drift. No word on if his Hulk car makes an appearance, though.
F9 hits theaters this Friday, June 25.