Death In Space : Investigating The Dark Side Of Space Exploration

Between failed takeoffs, the management of death on board the International Space Station and the unsuitability of the human body in space, space exploration is also a disastrous spectacle, ethically questionable. Investigation into the former and future dead in space.

Death In Space : Investigating The Dark Side Of Space Exploration

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By   Gaurav Inani |  YEET MAGAZINE |  Published 0439 GMT (1239 HKT) November 13, 2021

Is it possible to survive in space without a suit?  In the event of an accident in space, how long can a Man survive in contact with the sidereal void without a suit? Discovery Science has looked into the question and the answer is rather puzzling.

Between failed takeoffs, the management of death on board the International Space Station and the unsuitability of the human body in space, space exploration is also a disastrous spectacle, ethically questionable. Investigation into the former and future dead in space.

A stay in space is always fraught with consequences. The astronauts are subjected to extremely difficult conditions that weaken their bodies but also their minds. So, before rubbing shoulders with death in this investigation, here's a little appetizer of what awaits you in space, aboard the International Space Station .

Arrived in the International Space Station (ISS), you will have to endure a few days of migraine, the time to get used to the absence of gravity. Similar to seasickness, this space sickness affects three quarters of astronauts, according to Dr. Raffi Kuyumjian .

Then your muscles will melt. Expect to lose 20-30% of your muscle mass. Knowing that the two hours of sport imposed on the astronauts aboard the ISS barely make up for this loss, the return to Earth will be difficult. You may literally have to learn to walk again, as your vertigo will nail you to the ground. As evidenced by the rehabilitation session of American astronaut Andrew Feustel (see video below).

Added to this are the cosmic rays that will bombard your body, a strange drop in eyesight , the possibility of being struck by space debris, but also the risk of dying before you even reach the station. Regarding long-term manned trips, to the Moon for example, the list goes on. Finally, if you are planning to move to Mars to start a family, don't even think about it. The consequences would be terrifying. Unless...

Crash test: when space guinea pigs do not survive

May 27, 2020 at the historic launch of the manned capsule of SpaceX " Crew Dragon ," the NASA estimated the probability to stay. One chance in 276. Of course, this is very little, but this feat is due to technological progress made over more than 60 years. Before reaching these statistics, space exploration was marked by many tragedies, starting with animals.

Russian dog Laika , the first living being to orbit the earth, died after a few hours from heat and dehydration . Six American monkeys were also killed. For them, the journey was without return.

Regarding humans, 23 astronauts were killed during training or during space flights . Burned alive in the conflagration of their rocket , exposed to the vacuum of space, or victims of a dysfunctional parachute , the causes are multiple. But the most devastating accidents take place on the launch pad and mainly affect ground crews. Surprisingly, nearby civilian areas are also affected. In 1996, a Chinese Long March rocket crashed in a village destroying 80 houses and killing around 50 people.

Recent cyberattacks are a grim reminder that the utilities industry is a vulnerable target for hackers. The interconnection of information networks such as information technology systems and operational technology increases the vulnerability for cyberattacks like ransomware with a strong ...See more

The space coffin

On June 6, 2017, during a press conference , a child asked Elon Musk "  If someone dies, what do you do with the body?" ". This question baffled Musk . He hadn't known how to answer. Should we abandon it during a spacewalk and let it float in space? Or, store his corpse so that it can be subsequently buried on Earth? As he inquired, he discovered that there were procedures and equipment for this. However, official information on this fatal subject is difficult to access, NASA preferring to focus on security .

Fortunately, to this day, this drama has not yet arrived on the International Space Station , but the US Space Agency is anticipating it anyway. In 2005, she requested a guide from the Swedish company  "Promessa" - specializing in the manufacture of ecological funeral coffins - to make a prototype space coffin. Invented by biologist Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak, the concept of the “  Body Back ” is as follows: the body of the deceased is placed in an airtight bag and then exposed to freezing temperatures in space, for an hour, in order to be frozen. It is then reduced to powder thanks to a vibration systemhigh frequency. Weighing only twenty kilos, the remains can more easily come back to Earth.

The first manned mission to Mars could be fatal

Mars: next cradle of space conquest or theater of horror? In any case, billionaire Elon Musk already sees himself reaching the Red Planet by 2024. Technically, although there are still many technological challenges, deep space travel is not impossible. On the other hand, biologically, they will perhaps be insurmountable for the human species . He remains lucid:  "people are probably going to die," he said in an interview with entrepreneur Peter Diamandis.

Concept of Martian habitats under study.  © NASA

Concept of Martian habitats under study. © NASA

In 2014, the Dutch company “Mars One” had already anticipated this. The latter had the ambition to send volunteers to Mars. A one-way ticket to found a colony there in 2032. She had made a name for herself, in particular by offering to finance the costs of this mission through the production of a reality show, around the project. Result: the scientists of this firm had predicted that the potential volunteers would begin to die after 68 days - a figure still questionable to this day, because the study has points of improvement.

During their agony, these volunteers, then inevitably exposed to cosmic rays, would suffer, among other things, severe cognitive impairment, according to a report published in the journal  Nature . In particular, this risks compromising decision-making during normal and emergency operations, during the mission. The study specifies that in rodent models , cosmic radiation disrupted the integrity synaptic and increased neuroinflammation. She adds that this phenomenon persisted for more than six months after exposure. In other words, before arriving at their destination, travelers will have to endure the development of severe irreversible brain damage. A real threat to the integrity of the brain's neural circuits .

The impossible colonization of Mars

“We have to have a large permanently occupied base on the Moon, then build a city on Mars and become a space civilization. We don't want to be one of these unique planetary species, we want to be a multi-planetary species. »This  is Elon Musk 's dream , nothing more and nothing less . Seductive or terrifying, his conviction is unequivocal: if the human species wants to survive and avoid its programmed extinction , it must conquer other planets. But, with so many human biological limits - cited previously in a non-exhaustive way - the colonization envisaged by the billionaire seems impossible.

The biologist Scott Solomon points, in particular, the problem of reproduction, in a TedX conference  . Indeed, colonizing a planet implies that you have to reproduce. However, according to experiments conducted on pregnant mice exposed to microgravity , women could have many complications during their pregnancy . For good reason, a significant loss of bone mass then weakening their bones. Ultimately,  "they simply could not survive a pregnancy," predicts the biologist. Add to that, X-ray, ultraviolet or cosmic radiation , and their DNA. Would also be damaged, causing mutations, and the development of cancer .

Become "  Homo spatius" ?

According to the thesis of the famous book  Homo Deus: A brief history of the future”,  written by Yuval Noah Harari,  Homo sapiens will overcome its limits, thanks to NBIC technologies ( nanotechnologies , biotechnologies , computer science and cognitive sciences). He will transform into "  Homo deus" : a man-god with capacities superior to those of current human beings, who will have the possibility of colonizing other planetary systems. It will then become, at the same time: "  Homo spatius ", a multiplanetary species.

This transhumanist trend is shared by many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs like Elon Musk. Their goal: to prosper as a species - well, what will be left of it - and incidentally to defeat death. The climate emergency unfortunately pointed his nose and undermines the project. But is humanity ready? For some scientists this project is a myth. Danièle Tritsch and Jean Mariani, in their book  “It's not going to be the head” denounce it. The promises of transhumanism are not yet fulfilled and for a long time to come ...

In the meantime, there will be more deaths, and not only in space.

50 Years Ago, The World Mourned The Death Of Russian Cosmonauts From Soyuz-11: The Only Fatal Accident In Space
50 years ago, the death of Russian cosmonauts from Soyuz-11: the only fatal accident in space
The crew of the Soyuz 11 mission shortly before takeoff: Gueorgui Dobrovolsky, Viktor Patsaïev and Vladislav Volkov. © Photo credit: DR

On June 30, 1971, the three Soviet astronauts of the Soyuz-11 mission were discovered dead in their capsule, after an apparently successful landing. They probably died of suffocation when their vessel re-entered the atmosphere.

The Soyuz 11 mission which starts on June 6, 1971 in Baikonur is historic. This is indeed the very first Soyuz mission to dock with a space station, at an altitude of 200 km, in this case Salyut 1, distant ancestor of the legendary MIR station. Gueorgui Dobrovolsky, Viktor Patsaïev and Vladislav Volkov, the three embarked astronauts will spend about twenty days there before returning to Earth on June 29.ON THE SAME SUBJECT

Video.  60 years after Gagarin's first flight, a Soyuz rocket took off with three men on board

Two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut flew to the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday on a mission honoring the 60th anniversary of the sending of the first man into space, Yuri Gagarin.

The tragic return of a historic flight

A technological feat accompanied by a record of life in orbit, the space mission was a success: 24 days, during which the crew was able to carry out numerous scientific experiments in the biological, astrophysical and medical fields.

"Everything is fine, we're going home"

The return to Earth seems to be going just as well. But the Baikonur base loses contact with the crew. "Everything is fine, we're going back": this is the last message sent by the astronauts at 20:30 GMT. But after the capsule landed, on June 29, 1971 at 11:17 p.m. GMT, it was however the bodies of the three dead astronauts that the teams who had come to recover them discovered.

At the time, the whole world wondered about the causes of this accident. Exceptionally, the conclusions of the investigation carried out by the Soviets will be quickly revealed to the West and communicated in December 1972 to the Americans, when they close the Apollo program and when the two superpowers decide to jointly carry out a mission in space. They will show that a blast that occurred 15 minutes before landing, at the time of the separation between the orbital capsule and the descent module, tore off a tiny valve used to equalize the atmospheric pressure between the interior and the exterior.

Strapped in their enormous suits and squeezed into the tiny airlock, the astronauts failed to close this valve. Deprived of air for 15 minutes, they died of suffocation. The crew went down in posterity: the names of the three Russian astronauts were given to asteroids and lunar craters. No other crew will join Salyut 1, which will remain in orbit until October 16, before disintegrating in the atmosphere.

To date, Georgi Dobrovolsky, Viktor Patsayev and Vladislav Volkov are the only three men who have died in space, the other 19 victims of space conquest having died on the ground, during take-off or in suborbital flight.ON THE SAME SUBJECT

Man's first step on the moon in 1969: relive the crazy week of the lunar conquest
On monday, April 19, 2021, the Ingenuity helicopter made a short historic flight to Mars. Fifty two years earlier, on July 21, 1969, man first walked on the moon. "South West" dives into its archives to make you relive the fantastic epic of the three American astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins.
20th anniversary of the flight of the first "space tourist", the American Dennis Tito
On April 28, 2001, Dennis Tito became the first “space tourist” aboard the Soyuz TM-32 mission. The flight lasted 7 days, 22 hours and 4 minutes, with docking at the International Space Station.

Michael Collis, American astronaut on the Apollo 11 space mission, in July 1969.
Michael Collis, American astronaut on the Apollo 11 space mission, in July 1969.

The third man. This is, of course, the title of a famous Carol Reed movie. It was also, arguably, the expression that American astronaut Michael Collins, who died of cancer on April 28 at the age of 90, had heard the most about himself. Third man in the historic Apollo-11 mission in which, in July 1969, his comrades Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. They were the first two in history. He, who remained in orbit in the command module, had to content himself with looking down on our satellite, on which he was never to set foot.

Born October 31, 1930 in Rome, where his father, General James Collins, was a military attaché at the American Embassy, ​​Michael Collins followed the classic route of most NASA astronauts at the time. First a pilot in the army, he became a test pilot in 1960. He applied for the first time, in vain, to join the astronaut corps and was accepted on his second attempt in 1963.

The American astronaut Michael Collins, "third man" of the Apollo-11 mission in 1969, is dead

Loneliest man in the world

The United States are certainly already launched in the Apollo program but, above all, they are learning human space flights in order to prepare for lunar adventures.

Death of American astronaut Michael Collins, third man in historic Apollo-11 mission

In July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. He, who remained in orbit in the command module, had to content himself with looking down on our satellite.

What happens to our body when we die in space?

What if an astronaut dies in space, what happens to his body?

Dying in space , what could it be like? Granted, unless you're the grandson of an Elon Musk or a future Jeff Bezos, there's little chance that this will happen to you. But if an astronaut on a mission outside the ISS perishes, what would happen to his body?

Game-changing gravity

In space, living conditions are very different from those on Earth . Sleeping, eating, moving around, or even having sex do not have the same flavor. As many astronauts have already told, the body faces major upheavals . And if human life is transformed, what about death?

On Earth, blood stops circulating when you die, under the effect of gravity . Thus, it gradually accumulates at the level of the declining parts of the corpse: this phenomenon is called livor mortis . But in space, where there is no gravity, the blood would remain evenly distributed in the blood vessels.

After livor mortis comes rigor mortis . And as the name suggests, this is the process during which the corpse stiffens . According to American anthropologist and biologist Tim Thompson, it would also take place in space. Indeed, the two proteins of muscle fibers, at the origin of the stiffening (actin and myosin), are always present inside the body envelope.

A mummy floating in space?

It is more on the next step that the matter becomes complicated in space : decomposition . We earthlings are fortunate enough to benefit from bacteria in our digestive system that eat our internal soft tissues, doing a wonderful job of "recycling" organic matter.

Problem: these need oxygen, and the body contains only a very limited amount. Once the oxygen reserves were exhausted, these bacteria would not survive, leaving the body ... almost intact . So we could look like a sort of mummified cosmonaut , floating endlessly, in infinity. Strange, but poetic, right? What is less so, however, are the burns that the extremely low temperatures would cause to our space corpse.

Either way, if humanity has never observed cadaverous decomposition in space to this day, according to Tim Thompson, it is a safe bet that our bodies would retain a human form, indefinitely . He is not guaranteed to keep it if he bumps into a celestial object.

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