The canopy is the transparent enclosure over the ship cockpit. The tinted canopy protects the pilot and cockpit from radiation and other hazards. Life support provides a breathable atmosphere inside of the ship.
Canopy damage Edit
The canopy can be damaged by trauma such impacts, hull stresses (such as emergency FSD drop), severe gravitational hazards and weapons fire. Damage to the canopy, once sufficiently severe, results in visible and audible cracking. This will worsen if more damage is taken, until the canopy dramatically shatters. If this happens, the ship's atmosphere will vanish into space. A Remlok Survival Mask instantly deploys from the pilot's Remlok Suit to protect the wearer against oxygen depletion and the vacuum of space. This however leaves the pilot with a limited time to reach a station for repairs. Sound no longer has air to resonate with so it becomes quiet.
If the pilot is not able to reach a station before the oxygen runs out, then they will be forced to eject and the ship will be counted as destroyed. The available breathable oxygen time depends on the class of Life Support fitted to the ship (a minimum of 5 minutes up to a maximum of 25 minutes), but it can also be refilled via Synthesis. Passing the force field in a Starport docking slot or entering the hangar on an Outpost or Surface Port will return the ship to a breathable oxygen atmosphere and halt the countdown, though obviously it will restart if the canopy is not repaired and the ship returns to vacuum. Docking will refill the oxygen supply, however.
A damaged canopy can be repaired either by use of an Auto Field-Maintenance Unit or Repair Limpets, but once completely shattered it can only be repaired using station repair services. A shattered canopy far away from inhabited space will usually therefore result in the loss of the ship.
Much of the upper HUD is displayed or projected on the canopy. This includes active weapon group, currently selected target and information, supercruise orbit lines and object markers, and weapon targeting reticules. Alerts (i.e. heat warnings, incoming missile, etc.) are also shown on the canopy.
If the canopy is shattered, all information displayed on it will be lost. It still exists (i.e. missiles will still lock on, gimballed weapons will still track), but is no longer visible to the pilot. All auditory cues from COVAS are muffled. More critically, the escape vector for supercruise from gravitational wells and escaping Interdiction will not be visible.Loss of canopy HUD, apart from being potentially lethal, can also be highly detrimental for pilots who keep fighting for precious minutes more before they go to a station for repair, especially with fixed weapons.
The lack of supercruise target distance and arrival time estimate can also make it difficult for a pilot to judge whether they will have enough time to get to a chosen repair destination or even when they are close enough to safely drop out of supercruise. Pilots with shattered canopies are advised always to seek the nearest port with repair facilities and a pad able to accommodate their ship as soon as possible, although naturally some pilots are more impetuous than others.
The size and viewing arc of the canopy depends on the type of ship. A bigger canopy gives better all round vision which is handy for dogfighting and occasionally just sightseeing. But the bigger the canopy, generally the more chance it will take damage.
Module Reinforcement Packages help reduce damage to the canopy, but some ships are a lot more vulnerable due to canopy size in relation to the rest of the ship, ship layout, or even just the kind of combat style enforced by the ship's flight characteristics. For example, an Asp Explorer armed as a fighting ship then expect to fly back for repairs on life support often: it has a large bubble canopy and flies best going fast in a straight line. This results in a lot of face-on "chicken" fights.
- the fastest way to break a canopy is to drop into the cones of a neutron star or white dwarf and wait for 30 seconds