How Long Could you Survive in the Vacuum of Space?

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Apparently I would outlive you by 17 seconds.

I'ld have to joy of lasting 71 seconds then dying

By Chris' Wills (not verified) on 06 Apr 2008 #permalink

I read this as correlated with the (sold out; my Physics professor wife and I already bought tickets):

There will be a 40th Anniversary Screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with guests Tom Hanks, Keir Dullea, and Douglas Trumbull on Friday, April 25 at 7:30 PM.

My point being that Sir Arthur C. Clarke had published a story "Take a Deep Breath" [Infinity Science Fiction, Sep 1957], anthologized 1961, which led to one of the key scenes of a great movie.

"Take a deep breath, trigger the explosive bolts - and begin!"

Professor Geoffrey Landis (NASA scientist, Hugo- and Nebula-Award-winning Science Fiction author) has researched the literatures as such:

Vacuum Exposure in Science Fiction
http://www.sff.net/people/Geoffrey.Landis/vacuum_sf.html

"2001" was neither the first nor the last science fiction story to feature a character surviving unprotected exposure to space. There are a number of science fiction stories with scenes in which a character is exposed to space without a space suit (or at least without a space helmet) and survives. Here is a brief list of some of the science fiction stories and movies that have featured scenes in which a human survives an unprotected exposure to space.

Print

* Nathan Schachner and Arthur Zagat, "Exiles of the Moon" (1931) (*)
o Letter, Wonder Stories, April 1932
* Stanley Weinbaum, "The Red Peri" (1935)
* Arthur C. Clarke (**), Earthlight (1955)
* Arthur C. Clarke, "Take a Deep Breath" (1957)
* Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
* John Varley, The Ophiuchi Hotline (1977)
* Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
* Charles Sheffield, "All the Colors of the Vacuum" (1981; collected in The MacAndrew Chronicles)
* Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Footfall (1985)
* Stephen Baxter, "The Quagma Datum" (1989; collected in Vacuum Diagrams 1997)
* Allen Steele, "Exiles of the Morning Star" (1999)
* Gregory Benford, The Mars Race (1999)
* Ben Bova, The Precipice (2001)
* Jack McDevitt, Chindi (2002)

In addition to this list, Larry Niven's story "The Borderlands of Sol" (included in the collection Flatlander) includes a decompression scene in which the main character, although not exposed to complete vacuum, considers the possible effects of vacuum exposure, and Robert Heinlein's "Gentlemen, Be Seated!" (1948) features humans who are exposed to vacuum over a selected portion of their bodies

Movies and TV

* 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
* Mobile Suit Gundam: "Char's Counterattack" (animated, 1988)
* Star Trek, the Next Generation, "Disaster", Season 5, episode 105 (1991)
* Event Horizon (1997)
* Cowboy Bebop, "Heavy Metal Queen," Season 1, episode seven (volume 4) (animated, 1999)
Script
* Farscape: "Look at the Princess, Part Two: I Do, I Think," Season 2, episode 12 (2000)
* Titan AE (animated, 2000)
* Stargate SG-1, "Tangent" episode 12, Season 4 (2000)
* Star Trek: Enterprise: the Augments, 4th season, Episode 82 (2004)
* Stargate Atlantis, "Thirty-Eight Minutes," Episode 4 (2004)
* Battlestar Galactica: A Day in the Life, 3rd Season, episode 15, (2007)
* Sunshine (2007)

It's noteworthy that twenty years passed between the first time a human survived exposure to vacuum in film, and the second; while over the most recent ten years, eight different shows featured this.

Poetry

* Theodora Goss, Nine Seconds (2001)

I see only one way to settle the question.

It involves an airtight cavern, a vacuum pump, a pressure tank with a huge butterfly valve, and a corpse. Fresh, if possible.

One minute 29 seconds.

By themadlolscientist (not verified) on 06 Apr 2008 #permalink

Someone at NASA was testing a space suite in a vacuum chamber when the suit underwent explosive decompression.

http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/970603.html

At NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center (now renamed Johnson Space Center) we had a test subject accidentally exposed to a near vacuum (less than 1 psi) in an incident involving a leaking space suit in a vacuum chamber back in '65. He remained conscious for about 14 seconds, which is about the time it takes for O2 deprived blood to go from the lungs to the brain. The suit probably did not reach a hard vacuum, and we began repressurizing the chamber within 15 seconds. The subject regained consciousness at around 15,000 feet equivalent altitude. The subject later reported that he could feel and hear the air leaking out, and his last conscious memory was of the water on his tongue beginning to boil.

At least it's quick, only about 10 seconds to react.

I'm thinking more like a terminally ill volunteer and a free trip into space.

Re: Clarke's "Take a Deep Breath"

I should think it would be better not to take a deep breath, but to exhale as completely as possible before going commando into space. Wouldn't lungs filled with air simply explode when submitted to an external vacuum?