In Interstellar's fighting scene between Cooper and Mann, Mann breaks Cooper's visor with a headbutt. When I saw that scene the first thing that came to my mind was: "Com'on! NASA is not going to make so crappy equipment". Just think about it. Is the momentum of a head enough to break an astronaut visor? If that is so, the visor might break easily if the astronaut stumbles and falls over a rock, just to put an example, and that is a very reasonable possibility in an unknown terrain. Therefore, NASA would make suits resistant enough to cope with the majority of possible accidental scenarios.

One possibility might be that a chemical combined with the cold environment of the planet debilitates the helmet's visor, but I can't imagine how to support such hypothesis.

Do you think there is a strictly scientific explanation for the outcome of this scene or shall we consider it just a theatrical license to bring emotion into the movie?


2 Answers 2


The short answer is that he didn't just hit it once, he hit it multiple times, each time in the same place. It only cracked on the final impact.:

“Stop this!” Cooper shouted, his face mere inches from the scientist’s. Mann’s response was to slam his faceplate into Cooper’s, hard, snapping his head back.
Then again.
And again.
“Someone’s—glass—will—give—way—first!” he grunted between strikes.
“Fifty-fifty you kill yourself,” Cooper howled. “Stop!”
And suddenly Mann did stop. He looked at Cooper with an unreadable expression. His faceplate was already riddled with tiny fractures.
So was Cooper’s.
“Best odds I’ve had in years,” Mann told him, and then he butted his head into Cooper’s glass. Cooper heard it crack, felt the cold first, and then the acrid, nose-scorching scent of ammonia. - Interstellar Novelisation


The surface temperature is not cold enough to be fatal instantaneously during the day, but is well below at least the freezing point of pure water of 32 degrees F (0 C) or at most the freezing point of pure ammonia of -108 degrees F (-77.8 C). Due to the presence of frozen clouds and the evaporation of carbon dioxide clouds, it seems possible or even probable that the sky is usually never seen from the solid ice. Dr Mann's planet

It is possible that this low temperature has weakened the visor. If not... then it was in the script.

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