"We are 40 light years outside of the buttermilk nebula, although it's possible that ...(Beat)... yeah, this is a sticker.
" - Troy
City College and Greendale are locked in a space race to be the first college to claim a simulated mission to space. The study group is tasked with cleaning out the simulator after their latest prank is found out by the Dean. Before they can even begin cleaning, they are locked inside the simulator, sans Abed, and towed away. Now it's a race against the clock to guide the simulator back to the campus and beat City College.
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The Community episode "Basic Rocket Science" provides examples of:
- Affectionate Parody/Whole Plot Reference: The gang gets trapped in a space simulator with Abed as Mission Control parodying space movies like Space Camp, Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff.
- All Gays Are Promiscuous: Heavily hinted at with Dean Pelton. He has a map with truck stops and public restrooms circled and rated.
Abed: Here. Right next to the truck stop with three thumbs.
Dean Pelton: (to himself, ashamed) ... those aren't thumbs.
- Audience Participation: Of the voting variety. Fans designed their own Greendale flags and then voted for one to become official. The winning one was introduced in this episode and the voting was written into the plot as having been done by Greendale students.
- "Before" and "After" Pictures: Inverted in that the before of the simulator is the nicer of the two.
- Cell Phones Are Useless: Cell phones lose their signal inside the simulator.
- Claustrophobia: Pierce doesn't like small spaces.
- The Computer Is Your Friend: S.A.N.D.E.R.S. is an 8-bit image of the Colonel.
- Department of Redundancy Department: The simulator simulator.
Leonard: Nice job. I can't believe I'm not really not really in space!
- Everything's Better with Cows
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the cold open, it's visible that the Dean's desktop wallpaper is of two people in dalmatian costumes, a Call Back to the season 1 finale.
- Freudian Excuse: Pierce's final outburst alludes to this.
- Fruit Cart: Annie drives into one with the simulator.
- Fun with Acronyms: The KFC space simulator computer S.A.N.D.E.R.S.(Systematic Android Network Diode Energy Rocket System).
- A second example is the C.C.C.P (City College Cosmic Program), a Genius Bonus when you realize that C.C.C.P. are actually the English letter imitation of the Cyrillic name for the USSR. "C.C.C.P." was placed on the helmet of the first man Russia actually sent into space.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: It's not that the flag design was particularly good at this, just that Dean Pelton is a terrible radar. So terrible that Jeff reveals himself to be the one who blurted out what the flag was actually supposed to be out of sheer annoyance.
Jeff: He kept not seeing it!
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: After finding out that City College had the space station simulator towed.
Jeff: We earn the right to pick on Greendale every day by going there. Our school may be a toilet, but it's our toilet, and nobody craps in it but us.
- The opening scene, where the student runs in and tells the dark conference room that City College has a space simulator, is an homage to the opening scene in The Right Stuff, complete with the room's inhabitants acknowledging that they already know the Russians successfully sent a man into space... er, that City College has a simulator.
- It turns into an homage to Apollo 13 after the gang gets trapped in the simulator.
- Insult Backfire: When the dean from City College tells Annie she's not City College material after all, she replies with an enthusiastic "Thank you!".
- Last-Second Word Swap
Britta: During high school field trips, we used to sneak in there and get- (glances at Shirley) ... to praying.
Shirley: That's nice!
- Made of Explodium: As soon as the gang gets back to campus, the simulator catches fire.
- Mission Control: Abed plays this to the gang after they get stuck in the simulator.
- Misfit Mobilization Moment: After Jeff's Hypocritical Heartwarming Rousing Speech.
- Oh, Crap: 8-bit Colonel Sanders' face, when Pierce attacks him.
- Power Walk: Abed has the entire group do one in slow motion.
Pierce: ...You guys are walking in slow-mo?
- The Power of Friendship: Only with teamwork is the simulation beaten.
- Product Placement: It's pretty much a giant commercial for KFC. However, the crew actually approached KFC about it, since they thought the space bus being bluntly sponsored by some product would be funnier.
- Rousing Speech: Jeff's "Greendale is our toilet" speech.
Shirley: Now that was inspiring.
- Saying Too Much: Troy does this - and catches on a second too late without even changing his tone.
Troy: How did you know it was our design? We submitted it anonymously. Whoops.
- Schmuck Bait
Jeff: I'm pretty sure they made their way into that thing five seconds after the Dean left.
- Serious Business: Abed demands people get their slow walk right. Also the Dean's response to City College's space simulator.
- Ship Tease: Britta/Troy and Pierce/Jeff fall into each others arms.
- Shout-Out: to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In one scene, Abed is reclining in a chair, next to a desk full of books and diagrams. There is a thick volume on the desk, with the word 'SUNNYDALE' written on it.
- Abed's orange space suit is incredibly similar to the one the Tenth Doctor wore in The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit and Waters of Mars.
- Space Madness: Pierce succumbs to it when the group is locked in the space simulator.
- The Space Race: The competition between Greendale and City College to be the first community college to put a student in fake space.
- Streaming Stars: Shows up in The Tag.
- Stuff Blowing Up: The fate of the simulator.
- Take That
There was a time and a place for subtlety and that time was before Scary Movie
- Too Kinky to Torture: Milder than most, but the Dean interprets Jeff's threats to step on him as some kind of pleasure to enjoy.
- Used Future: The space simulator.
- Why Don't You Marry It?: Pierce's retort to Annie standing up for Greendale.