5 dangers that threaten a person in outer space

At the end of November, NASA was forced to postpone the astronauts’ spacewalk. The sudden decision was made because of the danger of fragments of space debris flying past – they fly 10 times faster than a bullet. It is believed that the abundance of remnants of ancient spacecraft in the future will not allow astronauts to enter open space near Earth at all, as a collision with debris can be fatal. In fact, there are many more dangers waiting for humans in space, such as accidentally moving away from the ISS, boiling blood and so on. Some astronauts have already experienced such problems but fortunately survived. We offer you to familiarize yourself with the dangers of outer space and learn more about the acute incidents that have occurred.

Outer space is an extremely dangerous place and now we have to prove it

Risk of damage to the suit

A space suit is a suit that is equipped with sophisticated electronics and several protective layers. But no matter how strong it is, space debris can easily break through it and touch the vital organs of astronauts. There is no ambulance in space, and it can take a long time for a person to return to Earth, so injured astronauts are more likely to simply die. Fortunately, no deaths have yet occurred due to damage to the suits.

In fact, the spaceship is a small spaceship

However, damage to the suits occurred, and this led to serious problems. For example, in 1960, US Air Force pilot Joseph Kittinger jumped from the stratosphere and survived the pressure drop of his right glove. In a vacuum, human flesh expands twice as much, so the pilot’s right arm was heavily swollen. Despite the problem, the man was able to make a soft landing and the swollen limb regained its former appearance. It is good that only the glove was damaged – if this happened to the helmet, the pilot would definitely die due to the pressure drop.

Joseph Kittinger before the jump

The horrors of dropping a spaceship in 1966 were felt by one of the NASA astronauts during Earth tests in Houston. He was in a situation close to a vacuum – the saliva in his mouth literally started to boil and he lost consciousness. All this occurred because the fluid in the human body under low pressure conditions will start to boil due to the expansion of the gases contained in it.

Jump by Joseph Kittinger

The risk of the spacesuit breaking

Sometimes the spacesuit remains intact on the outside, but the problem lies in its technical equipment. In 2013, the Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano went into space when his spacesuit suddenly began to fill with water. It turned out that the liquid came from a faulty cooling system and due to the lack of gravity it did not run down but collected in the helmet. Water completely flooded the man’s eyes and nose, so he could not report the problem to the commissioning center. Fortunately, the astronaut was able to reach the hatch and return to the ISS.

Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano

About the same problem in 2001 faced the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield (Chris Hadfield). During the stay in the open space, he felt irritation in the eye which began to water. Under weightless conditions, the drops gathered into one ball and closed the other eye. The man literally went blind in outer space, and even with a drill in his hand. Mission Control advised him to bleed the suit to blow away the contamination. The man obeyed and after cleaning the suit he went back to the station. It turned out that eye irritation was caused by leakage of a substance to prevent fogging of the glass.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield

The danger of astronaut fatigue

Space suits weigh up to 160 kilos – this is a very impressive mass. In weightlessness, they lose weight, but that does not mean that it is comfortable to work in them. According to the previously mentioned astronaut Chris Hadfield, the density of a space suit is almost the same as the surface of a volleyball. When you do each movement, you have to overcome elastic resistance, which requires a lot of strength.

Working in open spaces takes a lot of energy from astronauts

When astronauts repair the ISS, when they turn the wrench, they must also hold on to the station – otherwise the bolt will not spin, but the astronaut himself will spin. Repairs in space are twice as difficult as on Earth, which is why astronauts often return to the station with bloody blisters. But with severe fatigue, a person loses concentration, which can lead to other problems.

Space walk by Russian cosmonauts

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The danger of floating away into space

EVA fatigue can cause an astronaut to fly away from the ISS and get lost in space. Such terrible cases have not yet occurred, but such a danger still exists. As they leave the ISS, astronauts are attached to it with a 26-meter-long steel cable. This minimizes the risk of floating out into space, but there is an extra safety net. A jetpack is built into every suit – if a person somehow flies away from the station, he can fly back to it.

Modern spacesuits are equipped with a jet pack

But during the first spacewalks, the astronauts had no jetpack. So in 1973, astronauts Pete Conrad (Pete Conrad) and Joseph Kerwin (Joseph Kerwin) were outside the “Skylab-2” space station trying to fix the solar panel. Suddenly, she turned around and pushed the astronauts away from the station. Fortunately, the steel wire prevented the men from floating away into space and they returned safely to the station.

Skylab 2 crew from left to right: Joseph Kerwin, Pete Conrad and Paul Weitz

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The danger of the unknown in space

Mankind could not conquer space near Earth until the second half of the 20th century. This is a whole new space for us, and even scientists can not quite know what kind of dangers await humans in space. In 1965, the Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov went into space for 12 minutes and it almost cost him his life. At that time, no one took into account that in a vacuum, the spacesuits increase significantly in size. Because of this, the Soviet cosmonaut could not squeeze through the space of the spacecraft for a while – this was done only after the pressure in the suit decreased.

Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov

During the space race, such flight information was classified and US astronauts were unaware of such a danger. That same year, pilot Ed White went into space and although he was able to squeeze into Gemini IV, he could not close the door. The reason for this turned out to be a defective spring – fortunately the man was able to fix it and close the door. But if he started panicking, he would hardly have returned to earth.

The American astronaut Ed White

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The unknown is perhaps the greatest danger in outer space. In the coming decades, humanity wants to go to the moon and Mars, and no one can know for sure what awaits us there.

Let’s consider what other risks astronauts face? Write your options in the comments.

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