A Few Different Things Can Happen if an Astronaut Dies in Space
What happens if an astronaut dies in space? Whether they die during a moon walk or on-board, there are a few approaches the crew can take.
Although becoming an astronaut is every kid's dream job, it's certainly one of the most dangerous careers imaginable. Whether something small goes wrong within the spacecraft or while walking on the moon, astronauts are constantly running into serious danger — or even death.
Here's what happens if an astronaut dies in space:
But what happens if an astronaut dies in outer space? There are a few different approaches the crew can take if there is — unfortunately — a fatality on-board.
The body can be placed in an air-locked bag and left in the space suit until it's sent back to Earth.
If someone were to suffer from a fatal injury, such as getting hit by a micro-meteor during a spacewalk, certain precautions must be taken to ensure the body is properly preserved, to prevent the crew from getting contaminated. According to Aerospace Engineering, the crew would put the body in an air-locked bag and leave it in the space suit, while also keeping it in the coldest part of the spacecraft.
The crew would keep the body preserved this way until they were able to find a free place to bring it back to Earth, where it would be shipped off to safety.
Recently, the "Body Back" technique was introduced, which may be the best technique.
Green burial company Promessa and NASA teamed up to co-create the "Body Back" technique, according to Business Insider, which essentially involves zipping a corpse into an airtight sleeping bag aboard the spacecraft. The body is then exposed to the freezing temperatures of outer space, until the entire body is guaranteed to be frozen.
After enough time, the body is brought back on-board, and the crew is required to vibrate the frozen body until it shatters. The result is a little jarring, as you'll apparently have 50 pounds of finely ground human body dust inside your spacecraft. However, you can hang it outside — or contain it somewhere — until you make it to your final destination.
"Littering" in space is apparently illegal.
Although the seemingly easiest way to dispose of a body in outer space would be to simply release it from the aircraft into the unknown, doing so is actually illegal. It's an international rule that spans across outer space, which prohibits littering of any kind. This apparently includes dumping human remains, according to a UN agreement.
There are a number of reasons why dumping bodies in outer space was outlawed. Floating bodies could potentially collide with other spacecrafts, or make their way to other planets. This could deeply harm the planet from an ecological standpoint, leaving "unfamiliar" human remains, as well as other bacteria and organisms there.
While visiting outer space would be seriously cool, those who make the trek unfortunately run the risk of not returning alive. Therefore, those who embark on NASA space missions are constantly thinking about these types of things, no matter how long the journey may be.