Cooper and Murph find the hidden NASA headquarters via decoding patterns in the dust in their library

which turn out to be signals sent by the future Cooper via the tesseract.

Upon arriving at NASA, Brand recruits Cooper for the Endurance mission, saying he is the pilot they need, and that "this is the mission you've been trained for."

Why does it take all that coded message hoopla to get Cooper to NASA? If they know he's the perfect trained pilot, why don't they just go visit his farm and recruit him there earlier?

  • 3
    Maybe because, they didn't know where he lived or that he was even alive. They were going without him anyway.
    – aandis
    Nov 20, 2014 at 4:21
  • 1
    Related: movies.stackexchange.com/q/32928/49.
    – TARS
    Apr 4, 2015 at 19:47
  • Movie clearly mentions that NASA thought he was dead..
    – user931
    Feb 10, 2018 at 23:34

4 Answers 4


At the baseball game, Cooper mentions that when he was younger, everyone was too busy fighting over food to be playing baseball.

The implication is, society had almost totally collapsed. Things like centralized records would no longer be maintained. As zack said in comments, NASA had no idea if Cooper was still alive let alone where he was.

In addition, we don't see much evidence of computerized records or the Internet in Cooper's community. As I recall, the school office is full of paper files instead of computer terminals. Cooper is considered pretty weird and eccentric for building computer-controlled farm equipment. Whatever government still exists may be rather decentralized and keep its records on paper, so searching for any records of Cooper would be a difficult and possibly futile task.

Finally, the general public are not aware of NASA's continued existence. NASA are trying to keep a low profile, and wouldn't want to draw attention to themselves by actively searching for Cooper -- especially since their resources and personnel are very limited.

Bearing this in mind, it's a remarkable coincidence that of all the places Cooper could have gone,

he lives less than a day's drive from NASA's secret headquarters.

We can just call this dramatic licence, unless there was

additional interference from the black hole engineers

which doesn't really seem consistent with

their need to recruit Cooper to communicate with Earth in the first place.


When Coop talks to Brand father, he actually asks, why him, and they have no answer, they basically tell him that they didn't know about him (Coop) until he came into their door, probably they meant that they haven't heard form him in a while, so they didn't know how to contact him.


They weren't sure if he was alive and probably didn't even know where he lived. They were ready to go even without him but it was destiny that they found Cooper.

  • 2
    Technically, not destiny, he gave himself the coordinates :)
    – Deleteman
    Nov 20, 2014 at 14:09
  • 1
    @Deleteman Oh did he? But then why would he ask himself to "STAY" if he gave himself the coordinates? Or rather, why would he give himself the coordinates if he knew the outcome wasn't good? Because he asked himself to stay and not leave.
    – aandis
    Nov 20, 2014 at 15:11
  • 2
    I read that as a desperate attempt to not leave his daughter... something a desperate parent would do, like putting the fate of humanity at risk
    – Deleteman
    Nov 20, 2014 at 15:23
  • @zack He send the stay message first at a point where he may well have thought the mission was a complete failure. After that he regained contact with TARS and calmed down enough to realize what he needed to do.
    – kasperd
    Mar 16, 2016 at 22:23

The script and novelisation would strongly suggest that NASA were simply unaware that Cooper was still alive, hence their failure to contact him.

With the collapse of the previous NASA structure and the "off the grid" nature of his farming lifestyle it seems likely that they just lost track of him and assumed he was dead.

"We need a pilot. And this is the mission you were trained for.” Cooper thought back to his training. Sure as hell no one had ever mentioned anything like this to him. He’d thought Mars, maybe, or Europa at the outside. “Without ever knowing,” he said. “An hour ago, you didn’t even know I was still alive. And you were going anyway.”

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