I just couldn't understand how they knew they couldn't spare those 30 minutes. At this point in the movie, they didn't actually yet discover that the reactor (insert their terminology) was going to blow. Maybe I took his role as a mechanic and less of an engineer, where that problem would have made most mechanics go wake up the staff that understood those systems. That one single, quick line in the movie seemed to be trying to hide a potential plot hole quickly.
The economics of the movie were very interesting as you pointed out, although they did not quite get too in depth as I would have liked. If there was a different cast, slightly different execution, this movie could have been great.