What to do with the body of someone who dies in space?

Although the protocols for what to do are not defined, some options are very interesting.

Space. photography; Unsplash

Astronauts They risk their lives in every mission they undertake to space. Since space missions began 60 years ago, 20 people died: 14 In boating tragedies NASA Challenger Since 1986 and 2003, 3 Astronauts during missions Soyuz 11 1971, and 3 When the launch pad caught fire Apollo 1 In 1967. Despite all this, no deaths have been recorded in the empty regions of the universe till date.

The number of journeys increases, and these become increasingly long, added to the possibility that tourism beyond the boundaries of our planet is a reality. It seems that A matter of time An extraterrestrial death must be recorded. Although death was something that could happen at any time, it was only in this period Prevention-focused protocols There was little talk about what to do if that happened.

Astronaut in space.  Photo: UnspashAstronaut in space. Photo: Unsplash

European Space Agency (ESA) issued “Guidelines for the Management of Space Debris” in 2003. This includes recommendations for disposal of human remains in space. In 2021, its American counterpart, the NASA Published the article “Death in Space: Ethical Considerations – Gateway, Orion, the Moon, Mars and Beyond”, Challenges and options for managing death in space are analyzed in the context of future space missions.

Despite this, There is no single universal norm For death in space, each varies depending on the purpose and type of death.

The presence of water on the moon is very important.  Photo: Unsplash.

Space is not free from death, what to do with the body?

Processes depend on the task in which the death occurs. If the deceased is in A Short or low altitude travelsuch as International Space Station (ISS) or the way to the moonThere is a possibility Return the body to earth. In both cases, the crew has the option of returning the body in a capsule within days.

Space.  photography;  UnsplashSpace. photography; Unsplash

But it becomes more complicated on long journeys. In the case of a hypothetical task Marte, Astronauts have to live with a corpse for years. For this reason, priority should be given to the project of finding new alternatives.

In the case of the lunar lander, material that reflects solar heat is responsible.  Photo: Columbia Sportswear.

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Alone in space.

Open the ship's airlock Send the body to the void, seems like the most logical solution. But that's not an option because This is a violation of international law. The UN, through a treaty, introduced legislation to that effect You can't throw garbage into spaceAnd that includes corpses.

Because bodies float in space without brakes They can collide with other spacecraft. Fly to other planets and fill them with human remains and bacteria or organisms living in and on the body.

A gravitating astronaut in space.  Photo: UnspashA gravitating astronaut in space. Photo: Unsplash

Planet Earth from space.  Photo: Unsplash.

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Save it to return

If it is decided to return the body to its relatives, to slow the decomposition, It should be stored in a separate, very cool, constant humidity room. Often it is in the same place where waste and food scraps are kept. But after some time, the smell may start endangering the health of the crew.

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PACE satellite.  Photo: NASA

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Body bags

One of the most interesting possibilities of the protocol is the cooperation between environmental burial institutions. truth And NASA, there ideal “body back”. It involves an airtight sleeping bag in which the corpse is placed and then exposed to the cold temperatures of space.

Space.  photography;  UnsplashSpace. photography; Unsplash

He The body is frozen Take it on board and vibrate it vigorously until it crumbles. It then turns into a human body powder weighing about 25 kg that can be hung outside the spacecraft until it reaches its destination.

Maybe the latter The most appropriate way To protect the body in the event of this situation, but there are still many unknowns about how researchers would deal with a death.

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