Former NASA astronaut Marsha Ivins has a simple description for how Australia looks from space. "Red," said the American, quoting International Space Station commander Terry Virts on what the earth looks like from hundreds of kilometres away. "It's colours. You see blue that's water and white that's clouds. If you're flying during winter time in the northern hemisphere, you see snow and that's white, too. "Then there are reds. The red of Australia is unlike any other country's red." Ivins spent 55 days in space over five missions before retiring from NASA and becoming "space consultant" for movies. She is in Australia for the launch of the latest: IMAX's A Beautiful Planet 3D, which features footage of the earth from the Space Station, including shimmering cities at night, swirling cyclones and fierce electrical storms. Growing up outside Philadelphia, Ivins wanted to be involved in the space program from the age of 10. The trigger was Alan Shepard becoming the first American in space in 1961 – just weeks after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. "For the next nine years, as we did Mercury and Gemini and Apollo [space programs], I was just captivated by the whole space thing," she said. At 15, Ivins learnt to fly a plane before she could even drive a car. She told her father of her ambition as they drove past Philadelphia International Airport one day. "He said 'why?' as a normal father would. I said 'I think my future is somewhere there.' "Who knew I had that in me at 15? Turns out he'd always wanted to fly so he set up a lesson for both of us." After becoming an engineer and being hired by NASA, Ivins applied twice to become an astronaut before being successful in 1984. While there have been fewer than 60 women among the 540-odd astronauts who have gone into space, Ivins says that low ratio has begun to improve compared to the early days. "Because the basic selection criteria was a degree in some sort of science or technical field, women just didn't do that at the same percentages that men did," she said. "So there were fewer to be eligible." Ivins' space flights have given her a rare perspective on the earth. "You get a feeling of incredible insignificance when you consider the stars," she said. "And going around the earth in 90 minutes, you don't see borders and you don't see boundaries. "You see recognisable parts of the earth like the Sinai Peninsula in the Middle East, where people have been killing each other for millennia over that piece of land. And it's just a piece of land out the window." The old idea that the Great Wall of China is the only human-created object that can be seen from space is just a myth. "You can't see the Great Wall," Ivins said. "It's very long and very windy but it's very narrow and it's got trees around it. "You can see things like runways with your naked eye. And you can sometimes see roads at night." A Beautiful Planet and Sully are the last films to open at Sydney's IMAX cinema before it closes for demolition on September 25. A new giant screen cinema will be built as part of a 20-storey development that includes a 588-room hotel, restaurants and shops. Ivins laughed when asked what she thought of how Hollywood represents space in movies. "It's like asking a doctor about a doctor film or a lawyer about a lawyer film," she says. "They'll roll their eyes and say 'that's not right'. "So I tend to do that. Hollywood will say 'only you and 500 other people will know that's not right' but it's a shame. "I've done some consulting for a couple of movies and I'd really really like them to get it right, even though the parts they get wrong are [often] minor – what it's like to be in zero gravity and what your body feels like." \n'I hated it' The former astronaut gives her verdict on space movies. 2001: A Space Odyssey "That was pretty good. I signed up for it. And visually [director Stanley Kubrick] got a lot of it right, too." \n \n \n Keir Dullea in 2001: A Space Odyssey.\n \n Star Trek and Star Wars "I'm a Trek person. And I'm OK with whatever they violate in those movies because it's so far out of the realm of 'close to today'. Warp drives and light sabres and the Force, I'm fine with that. I'll always watch a Star Trek movie. They just make me happy." \n \n \n \n \n Star Trek Beyond. This week's Comic Con is expected to draw a many Trekkies." src="http://www.smh.com.au/content/dam/images/g/q/b/b/i/u/image.imgtype.articleLeadwide.620x349.png/1469165933875.png" title="" width="100%"&gt; Karl Urban as Bones, left, and Zachary Quinto as Spock in Star Trek Beyond. \n \n \n \n Avatar "That was in the fantastical realm of 'if you want to make it up, that's fine with me'. It was an interesting movie but I'm not a big fan. " Gravity "I hated it. There was absolutely nothing correct in that movie. The only thing that was correct was the lighting. [Writer-director Alfonso Cuaron] invented laws of physics to violate." \n \n \n Sandra Bullock in Gravity\n \n Interstellar "They did a really great job because instead of making up what worm holes and black holes looked like, they looked at real data. Kip Thorne was the scientist behind it. They gave his data to the digital effects people and they wrote algorithms based on his data. So what you see in that movie wasn't made up. It's based on real data." \n \n \n Matt Damon in The Martian.\n \n The Martian "Some of the stuff inside the vehicle and the zero gravity parts and the space-walking parts were dreadful but the movie was great. Matt Damon is so much fun to watch. I actually know somebody in the Astronaut Office [at NASA] who could be that character. I gave the book to him and said 'that's you'. We made him go see the movie."