When I grow up I want to be an Astronaut

When I grow up I want to be an Astronaut. I’ve been following the U.S. Space Program more or less from its inception. I find myself once again reading about the difficulties astronauts are confronted with while working in Outer Space. While some of the difficulties are directly attributable to the physics of weightlessness, most of the problems are due to their bulky, heavy, gloved and booted Space Suits.

The so-called Gravity Suit or G-suit seems to me to be completely unnecessary in Space. Those very expensive space suits are redundantly heated, air-conditioned, pressurized, and from what I hear, even diapered.

I hereby volunteer to do an experimental EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity):

I require only three things:

An oxygen hose because I think I need it.

A tether because I’m a fraidy-cat and don’t like the idea of drifting off into Space.

A Speedo for modesty’s sake.

You might think I’m joking but I have a serious question that I think NASA is too busy (or uppity) to answer: Why would you need to wear a G-suit in Zero G?

I think a big part of the problem is just a misunderstanding about the difference between a vacuum and a void. Space is a void and not a vacuum.

By all means, Dear Reader, correct me if I’m wrong; but I don’t believe a sudden loss of air pressure in my space suit would cause my eyeballs to rupture. I think that’s the stuff of Science Fiction. Furthermore, I don’t believe my lungs would be affected either. Neither would my head explode.

The G-suit was originally developed for jet pilots who, in making fast turns or other sudden maneuvers, were subjected to high G (gravitational or centrifugal) forces that caused their blood to accumulate or pool in their legs or body core, thus depriving them of oxygen-rich blood circulation to the brain, subsequently causing black-outs (loss of consciousness) and the voluntary control of their aircraft.

But, once again: Why wear a G-suit in Zero G?

Go ahead and laugh, but I think I could go naked in Outer Space. I wouldn’t suddenly freeze to death. My body generates its own heat (98.6ºF).

Ain’t no air up there.

No Air = No Wind. No Wind means no Wind-Chill Factor. No Wind-Chill Factor means no heat loss. I’d be more concerned about sunburn.

A source of compressed oxygen/nitrogen would provide enough positive air pressure to keep my lungs fully inflated.

My eyeballs are under a slight hydrostatic pressure, they are not air-inflated. They might rupture in a vacuum but not in a void. Consider high-altitude flight. Sudden changes in atmospheric pressure causes some people with blocked or narrowed eustacian tubes to have problems equalizing the air pressure in the middle ear and creating a sometimes very painful pressure on their eardrums, causing them to pop (distort or dislocate); but have you ever heard any complaints about people having pressure problems with their eyes?

Once again, correct me if I’m wrong. But if NASA has the guts to send me, I’ve got the guts to go.

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About The Twentieth Man

Age 66
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2 Responses to When I grow up I want to be an Astronaut

  1. Blade says:

    If you want to prove it, I suggest you test it out on one of those vacuum simulation rooms I’ve heard they use. I’d rather test the theory there than up in actual space where a life could be lost (to say nothing of any lives lost in an earth-bound experiment).

    Near as I’m aware though (and I am not an expert by any means), a vacuum has an effect on all organs, including the skin, which is a breathing organ, so if the skin isn’t given oxygen, skin cells WILL die, given enough exposure…that’s my two cents.

    • I spent the better part of yesterday reading up on these issues just to second-guess myself.

      For one thing, the idea that your skin breathes or needs to breathe is an urban legend based on the 007 movie Goldfinger.

      Also, in the development of the EVA suits most of the data stems from reports involving experiments conducted in ground-based vacuum chambers.

      I said there was a difference between a vacuum and a void. Space is a void and not a vacuum.

      MIT is currently working on a better space suit.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_activity_suit

      I love you anyway, even if you’re not a scientist.

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