NOV 09, 2016 09:23 AM PST

What Would Happen to an Astronaut if They Floated Away During a Spacewalk?


Whenever astronauts on the International Space Station perform spacewalks, they are literally putting their lives on the line. Despite all the safety equipment, there's a lot that can go wrong, and if it ever did, things would look pretty grim.

Perhaps one of the biggest risks astronauts take is relying on a special tether line that prevents an astronaut from floating away from the International Space Station if they ever lost their grip. What would happen if that tether failed, and the astronaut suddenly found themselves floating away? It's hard to say, but it would be tricky to get back to the International Space Station; that's for sure.

All astronauts that go on spacewalks have a special jetpack strapped to their back as a backup safety measure for this reason. If the tether should ever fail, the jetpack should allow the astronaut to carefully propel themselves over to the International Space Station again. But if that failed, the astronaut could face a potentially lethal situation. Other astronauts onboard would have to attempt a rescue mission, but retrieval is tricky and unlikely.

The astronaut would probably end up trapped in orbit around the Earth, far away from the International Space Station, until their oxygen supply ran out, or until the space suit gets a tear in it from space junk. In the first scenario, the astronaut would simply die of asphyxiation, while in the second scenario, the astronaut would boil from the inside out due to the lack of pressure.

Fortunately, this kind of emergency has never happened before, and hopefully never will.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
SEP 06, 2018
Videos
SEP 06, 2018
Would You Go to a Digital Doc?
Smartphones seem to be everywhere we go. They have cameras, apps and, rumor has it, can even be used to make voice calls. Pharmacy giant CVS is planning to...
SEP 19, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 19, 2018
Here's How to Tell if Your Dog Actually Likes You
Good dog owners love their pet unconditionally, but how can you be sure that your dog loves you back? For some, the answer is obvious; but for those curiou...
SEP 23, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 23, 2018
The Benefits of Vertical Farming
In some parts of the world where agriculture becomes a problematic endeavor, vertical farming offers a potential solution. Newark, New Jersey is a great ex...
OCT 02, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 02, 2018
Iridium Anomaly and The Extinction of Dinosaurs
Iridium is a hard, dense, silver-looking transition metal often found in high abundance in meteorites. When the higher-than-usual amount of iridium (around...
OCT 04, 2018
Videos
OCT 04, 2018
Zebrafish as Metastatic Cancer Model
Another Koch Institute Image Award winner from 2018 is presented in this video from MIT....
OCT 12, 2018
Videos
OCT 12, 2018
Don't Mess With Microbes
Researchers demonstrate why antibiotics should not be used casually....
Loading Comments...