As the old adage goes, “success begets success”. In the case of NASA, it’s safe to say that they’ve been able to build on their successes through the years.
Having divulged this, it’s quite notable that everything wasn’t always so rosy. During the nascent years of NASA, the organization started small with Project Mercury being one of the very first projects they took on in the early 1960s. Later on, they kept expanding their knowledge base and pursuing more space missions.
With each iteration, the engineers and top science honchos at the space agency managed to rack up more experience. Their continued pursuit of excellence saw them reach their crowning moment when the United States became the first country to land on the Moon.
Since then, we’ve witnessed the construction of Skylab, more than 30 years of Space Shuttle missions, and the construction of the International Space Station in orbit.
It would be remiss if we didn’t point out that all this hasn’t always worked out according to plan. Other than the great successes, there have also been some challenges here and there. Some of the failures have actually been fatal with astronauts losing their lives during Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia missions.
Sure, we know, even the thought of it sounds crazy. But really, how long can you survive in space without a spacesuit?
It’s an interesting discussion because space suits are designed to create a pressurized, oxygenated atmosphere for astronauts while in space. The specially made suits also help to shield them from harmful ultraviolet rays and extreme temperatures.
Without a suit to ensure you’re safe and sound in space, you would asphyxiate thanks to the presence of zero breathable air. The reduction in ambient pressure would cause a phenomenon called ebullism, which is a word used to describe the formation of bubbles in body fluids.
Because space is a vast vacuum, the pressure is so low that the boiling point of the fluids in your body actually decreases below the normal temperature of 370C. When you’re exposed to such conditions, the vacuum of space will cause the oxygen in your lungs to expand and you’ll swell up all over. Fascinatingly, it’s almost impossible to explode because the skin is quite stretchy.
Naturally, the body is built to use up all its oxygen reserves within 15 seconds. Once this happens, you’d lose consciousness.
Tempting as it may be, it’s a really bad idea to attempt holding your breath in space. This is because the conditions out there are quite different from what we’re accustomed to here on Earth. The lack of outside pressure means that any attempt at holding the breath would only cause the air in your system to expand and rupture your lungs.
Because asphyxiation happens roughly 90 seconds after exposure, you’re likely to freeze to death thanks to the extremely cold temperatures in space. Typically, this would take between 12-26 hours to happen.
Then again, it all really depends on where you’re located in space. If you’re really close to a star, then, things will pan out differently. Instead of freezing solid, you’re likely going to be burnt to a crisp.
Even after death, your body is likely to remain in the same condition for a pretty long time. Because decomposition in space happens at an extremely slow rate, you might float in space for millions of years before you lose form.
Worried? You shouldn’t be. If you find yourself facing a tricky situation, you’ve got between 1 and 2 minutes to get your act together and prepare for rescue before you meet your death. Chin up!
On January 31, 1958, the Explorer 1 satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral. The Explorer 1 mission led us to discover the Van Allen Belts – a series of belts filled with charged particles in Earth’s magnetic field.
Because of the great radiation on the inner zone of the belts, it was nigh impossible for astronauts to get past the limits of earth’s magnetic field into outer space.
NASA started making tests some 345 miles above the planet as they looked into what was necessary for them to break away and head to the Moon which is situated about 250 million miles away.
Cognizant of the fact that they needed the formula to go through both the inner and outer zones of the Van Allen Belts, NASA smartly came up with a trajectory system that would avoid the worst of the belts.
To overcome this challenge, NASA decided to ensure that the Apollo crew would pass through the belts at a fast enough speed to ensure that the spacecraft’s skin and instrumentation lining the walls stayed intact.
NASA continues to lead from the front when it comes to space exploration. It’s only right for us to raise a glass and toast in their honor. Despite the challenges, they’ve conquered space and inspired billions of humans to look up to the sky with the hope of a better tomorrow. That’s quite something right?
In the spirit of overcoming milestones, one Winston Churchill quote comes to mind, “History is written by the victors”. Indeed, no truer words have ever been spoken. Having been to the moon and back, it’s only fair that we as humans are availed the opportunity to tell our narrative as we see fit.
At AstroReality, we’ve come up with just the perfect way for you to document your life as it happens. Our recently launched NASA Notebook is specially infused with augmented reality technology so you can capture all your explorations in style. Be sure to cop it at our store!