Space shuttle left astronauts vulnerable to Reaver attacks

It's been a good week for pedantry. In a guest blog post at Scientific American, Kyle Hill discusses the durability of spaceship windows — both in the real world, and in Joss Whedon's movie Serenity. Spaceship windows have to be incredibly tough, because even tiny chips of paint become dangerous projectiles in space. But how would they stand up to frontal attack by a spear? Physics has the answers.


  1. Spit take on the headline – my hat’s off to you Maggie. Now if I just hadn’t been drinking coffee at the time I read it…

  2. Reaver spear through a window, yes, hull no. As any fan will recall Jayne stated in one episode that Vera could not pierce the hull, and same Vera is seen in a previous episode penetrating the windows of a space station. 

    If you don’t know who Vera is, then just move along, nuthin to see here…

    1. That’s just what using multiple layers of materials buys you. Vera probably could have pierced a sheet of steel just fine, we have guns today that can do that. 

      But when you have metal sheeting, some radiation shielding, more sheeting, something to make the cabin airtight, even more sheeting, some insulation, then support structure and finally maybe the interior wall.. the job gets a lot more difficult. 

      Not impossible though. Just need a specialized projectile to tear through all of that. 

  3. Ugh. Big spoiler alert if you follow the link to the article.  It just so happens that I just finished watching the Firefly series for the first time, and just got the DVD of Serenity from the library – but hadn’t watched it yet. 

    s’OK though. I usually don’t let spoilers bother me that much. And interesting article. 

  4. For years I’d heard hushed whispers of awe about Josh Whedon’s late, lamented proyect but hadn’t yet seen it.  Just last week I caught “Serenity” on one of the cable movie channels and was thoroughly impressed by the level of skill and quality on display, easily up there with the great space operas.

    “I am a leaf on the wind.  Watch me soar”.  Sigh and wow.

  5. The only consolation I can offer regarding Wash is what someone offered me upon the death of one of my favourite characters: If they die off-screen there’s a 100% chance they’ll be back; otherwise … you’re still good for 50%. 
    Long live Harriet Jones (former Prime Minister).

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