Retired Astronaut Scott Kelly, Neil deGrasse Tyson Disagree About Whether Tom Cruise Would've Vaporized in 'Top Gun: Maverick'

Tom Cruise Darkstar Top Gun Maverick
Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) pilots the experimental Darkstar plane in "Top Gun" Maverick." (Paramount Pictures)

One of the most spectacular moments in "Top Gun: Maverick" comes early in the film when Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell pushes his experimental Darkstar aircraft to Mach 10.5 and then flames out.

The movie then shows a disheveled Maverick covered in soot walking into a diner in the middle of nowhere. There are theories that Mitchell didn't survive his plane's destruction and that the rest of the movie is Maverick's death dream as he crosses over to the other side.

Related: Is Everything After Maverick's Darkstar Flameout Really Just a 'Top Gun' Death Dream?

Now famed astrophysicist and popular science personality Neil deGrasse Tyson has weighed in on Twitter and insists that there's zero chance anyone could survive that flameout, writing: "Late to the party here, but in this year's @TopGunMovie, @TomCruise'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'."

Scott Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut, jumped in to disagree. He spoke from personal experience when he replied, "Depends on his altitude. I was going Mach 25 when I left the ISS on a spacewalk and that was just fine."

Upon further reflection, Kelly clarified his take. While he still maintains that Maverick could've survived the ejection, he admits that reentry would've posed a problem for our hero. "To be completely clear. At the altitude at which a Mach 10 hypersonic aircraft would be flying, the ejection would be very survivable, the reentry into the atmosphere in just a pressure suit, not so much," he wrote.

There are two ways to process this Twitter battle. The most logical response would be, "It's just a movie, please get over it," but we all know that's not how the internet works. The other, inevitable conclusion is that Maverick literally flamed out, and the rest of the movie, including his reunion with Iceman, his rekindled love with Penny Benjamin, and the resolution of the conflict with Goose's son Rooster all represent the regrets of a dying stick jockey.

"Top Gun: Maverick" is available to buy or rent on digital. The 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD will be released on Nov. 1, 2022.

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