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Astronaut Factchecks Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Claim That 'Top Gun: Maverick' Defies Science

astronaut Scott Kelly; actor Tom Cruise from 'Top Gun: Maverick'; astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Joel Kowsky/NASA via Getty Images; Paramount Pictures/Youtube; Jason Mendez/Getty Images

Is the science in science fiction always sound?

Does the action in action films always obey the laws of physics?

Do moviegoers care?

Astrophysicist and movie-science-ruiner supreme Neil DeGrasse Tyson recently came for some of the action in the recent Top Gun: Maverick movie.

He tweeted:

"Late to the party here, but In this year’s [Top Gun: Maverick, [Tom Cruise]’s character Maverick ejects from a hypersonic plane at Mach 10.5, before it crashed."
"He survived with no injuries."
"At that air speed, his body would splatter like a chainmail glove swatting a worm."
"Just sayin’."

DeGrasse Tyson received a chorus of responses.

One notable commenter was NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.

Kelly is an engineer, retired astronaut and a naval aviator like the pilots in Top Gun. A veteran of four space flights, Kelly commanded the International Space Station (ISS) on Expeditions 26, 45 and 46.

Kelly is sometimes mistaken for Democratic Senator Mark Kelly, who is also a retired astronaut and naval aviator. The men are identical twins.

Scott Kelly tweeted:

"Depends on his altitude."
"I was going Mach 25 when I left the ISS on a spacewalk and that was just fine."

Kelly conceded it wouldn't be the speed, but the fall that would kill the character.

With two giants of space knowledge discussing a sequel of a beloved film on Twitter, the response was quick and fierce.

It sort of fell into two camps.

First, the armchair astronauts/physicists who felt the need to flex their intellectual muscles.




Many commented this argument is, after all, about a movie.

Those commenters included Kelly himself.


Others just commented on the entire discussion as a whole.




What is more predictable than the physics of falling at Mach speeds?

The speed at which people will run to correct experts on Twitter.