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Ever Wondered What NASA Does When An Astronaut Dies In Space? Here’s The Answer


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While it doesn’t seem a big deal when we will relay the ground rules to you, it will become so. First of all, it is still a hypothetical situation because NASA hasn’t lost any astronaut in space and for that matter, not even the Russians have lost one. The closest one ever got to dying in space was cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov, who made a hard entry into the atmosphere. Most of the accidents happen in the unforgiving atmosphere rather than space, especially at launch and landing. Now coming back to a potential dead astronaut in space, it would raise several problems for the crew. Here are some of them:

1. They can’t shove him in a locker as the mental and physical risks would be enormous.

2. A pre-built cemetery would cost millions of dollars and it is not something in NASA’s plans at all. A dead guy is a dead guy and probably most of his body would be destroyed before the next manned shuttle arrived at the International Space Station.


3. They could theoretically still release the body directly in space just like they did with Spock in vintage Star Trek but that is not the thing you would expect from fellow astronauts. Even if they were so cold-hearted to pull this off, they couldn’t do it as international space laws dictate that no garbage be dumped while in orbit as it could potentially crash or interfere with other objects lying in similar orbits.
NASA human dead body

So, in space everything changes. The best procedure that has come forward in recent years is called the “Body Back” process involving NASA and Promessa, a green burial company. So what you do is zip the body in a bag, freeze it completely in space and vibrate it till it breaks into tiny pieces and eventually powder. It is very cost efficient but still quite cold-hearted, don’t you agree?

With the proposed mission of mars coming up, it is essential to come up with better burial plans as the sheer length of the mission would mean that deaths would become inevitable as the space is known to weaken human body a LOT.
Do you have any better suggestions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.


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19 Comments to Ever Wondered What NASA Does When An Astronaut Dies In Space? Here’s The Answer

  1. Nicos Papadopoulos

    Have an orbiting cemetery that goes on and on for ever with the use of sun, and can be spotted at any time needed.

  2. How about each astronaut signs away his body agreeing for it to be used as a kind of full body massage. That can be aimed into space with details of who he/she was what they were doing and a map of how to find us. This way if intelligent life is out there maybe at least one side will know what the other looks like.

  3. I realize that releasing the body into space may be a hazard of sorts but ultimately how different would it be from burial at sea? It’s not like you would open an airlock and toss the body out, they would get a proper send off. If it is possible to send the body home one way or another and that is the wish of the astronaut great but if not possible they get burial in space.

    This is not tossing out the trash, it is performing a funeral in space. Anything else is just as hard on the other astronauts but might add an element of danger and prolonged suffering.

  4. Point the airlock at the earth, and open the door. The depressurization should provide enough force to throw the body at the atmosphere. Uncontrolled entry should produce enough friction to burn up the body for an instant cremation. Tell the family where and when. They get to see a shooting star. They can organise something nice on the ground and have a true one of a kind send off.

  5. Ashraf Nadeem

    freeze the Dead body in space suit(the suit that is for space walks) and attach it to space station. It can be done even without space suit . means just frozen dead body attached to space station. then whenever some space craft goes to space station. on its return to earth, it can carry the dead body to earth.

  6. After the body becomes powder (much like cremating, except more stuff) put the remains in a bag insert into a drone and deliver to NASA which will then be given to the family for closure. Technology has advanced to the point where this should be possible and should be considered.

  7. Freeze the body outside the station, and fix it to the station, until other shuttle can collect him back to earth.

  8. With the above solution, the problem is that Germans and bacteria from the astronauts powdered body could still float millions of miles into other planets in and out of the solar system. Not so great. They can Eject the body from the shuttle or space station into the massive incinerator that’s floating up there: The sun.

  9. Nedim ERDOGAN

    They can put the body a special small room, then they fill the room with foam, in the end, body cant move anywhere, and i guess it wouldnt be dangerous for alive astronouts and spacecraft. That would be the answer

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