Closer to the ending of the movie, when Mark Watney cuts a hole in his EVA suit to rendezvous with the Hermes, we see him spiraling wildly out of control before he links up with the Hermes crew.

Since the book clearly does not have this scenario, and based on the answers here, we know that NASA exclusively granted access as well as support to the makers of the Martian, was this scene realistically granted NASA's backing as well or was this one of the writer's inventions?

Additionally, has the author, NASA or the filmmakers ever spoken about this?

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    What exactly of the scene did you not think was realistic? That he lived? That he had enough air? That he could maneuver? That he's a huge comic book nerd and made an Iron Man reference?
    – cde
    Mar 27, 2016 at 19:46
  • @cde : I didn't think that NASA would have realistically signed off on this scene.
    – stark
    Mar 29, 2016 at 18:35
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    Compared to the using a radioactive fuel source as a space heater, launching into space with a parachute as a roof, or using explosives in order to use an explosive decompression event as a course correction? Do you mean, would NASA recommend it (never), or think it would work in theory (probably, they would study aerodynamics in space after all.)?
    – cde
    Mar 29, 2016 at 18:39
  • I think "granting access" is probably allowing him to talk to people about how NASA's organization and processes work. It's not NASA having their scientists run each scene (there would be big problems if taxpayer funded scientists were diverting their valuable time and resources to making a commercial movie) through a computer model to see if it would be something NASA would be able to try or accomplish, so this "sign off" you're asking about probably does not exist. Sep 7, 2016 at 13:53

1 Answer 1


How I thought about it was like when you let go of a freshly blown up balloon and it spirals around the room in a frenzy as the air escapes, not all balloons do this, it depends on a few different factors of the balloon, air pressure, and environment, so on. The difference between a balloon and manned space suit in the vacuum of space is that the suit is like an airplane that gets a hole-- everything gets sucked out or enough to block the hole. I came across an article that supports the unlikely odds of the "Iron Man scene" (http://www.outsideonline.com/2023396/how-accurate-martian)

I think Fox went with the alternative ending of the "Iron Man" for a couple reasons; fun because it's Iron Man and the Avengers are big in pop culture, readers get to experience the alt-ending from the book, and many of the crew members where also in marvel/super hero movie casting.

Weir confessed he never talked to Nasa about the specifics behind the Mars trip, he was just curious and enthusiastic about science and did some research. From your article, it appears that NASA approved their logo in the movie because there's aspects of the movie that are science fiction/can't be achieved with current technology.

I also recommend this Interview between Andy Weir and Adam Savage

  • A rocket, in essence, is nothing more than that same balloon going off. It's just that the rocket is built more sturdily so that you can control its direction, as opposed to it flailing around randomly. Watney's Iron Manning is closer to the balloon (since it is wildly uncontrollable), but it relies on the exact same principle that makes every rocket (or jet) engine work.
    – Flater
    Jun 23, 2017 at 12:06

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