I was watching Deep Impact the other night and I was struck by the fact that the Messiah mission takes eight nukes to the comet, but only has the manpower to plant four of them. Not only that, they only take with them the arming codes for four of them - the remaining nukes appear to be little more than ballast. So why take them at all?

Is this just a plot hole, conveniently leaving four nukes to destroy the comet at the end of the film? I could just about accept that they took four in reserve in case any of the 'live' nukes developed a fault during the journey, (though I don't recall any mention of this in the script) but then they still can't arm them without the codes.

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    The extra codes could have been communicated to them from Earth if necessary, or they might have even been sealed up somewhere on the ship. – Tacroy Mar 27 '13 at 23:33
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    First rule of government: Why do something once when you can do it twice at twice the price. Redundancy, redundancy. – BBlake Mar 28 '13 at 3:26
  • Why wouldn't they have the codes for the spares? Didn't they explode them at the end of the movie? – HorusKol Mar 28 '13 at 3:30
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    @Tacroy They weren't on the ship - as the Messiah approaches Earth near the end of the movie and Robert Duvall tells NASA their plan, he has to ask for them. And if you're taking four codes to begin with, why not take all eight and be done with it. – PhilPursglove Mar 28 '13 at 7:56
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    @HorusKol They did explode them at the end, but Robert Duvall has to ask for the codes from NASA when they re-establish communications. – PhilPursglove Mar 28 '13 at 7:57

I don't think they knew exactly what they were going to do when the ship was launched. Until they had a close visual of the comet, they wouldn't know how it was composed, and thus, the best way to keep it from hitting Earth. Coupled with the desire to have redundancy, and they had more nukes than needed.

I suspect that they had received the arm code for the 4 nukes they needed shortly before the sequence of events started that led to the first round of explosions. In fact, it's not mentioned where those 4 codes came from that I can tell to begin with...

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