No Shirt, No Spacesuit, No Problem

What would happen if you were exposed to space without the aid of a spacesuit?

We’ve all seen the movies where your eyes pop out or your body explodes, but none of this would happen in reality.  It would be uncomfortable, and if exposed for a long enough time you would certainly die, but it would take longer than you expect.  Let’s list the things that would happen.

  • Space is a vacuum, so the first thing you would experience is all the air being forced from your lungs very quickly and the alveoli sacks in your lungs would tear, causing swelling and general discomfort.

Side note- if you’ve seen Event Horizon where the guy is told to force all the air out of his lungs before he enters open space- do that!  It will prevent a lot of the discomfort and damage to your lungs.  If you haven’t seen Event Horizon- stop reading this and watch it!!

The lack of oxygen is most likely going to be the thing that kills you ultimately.  The result of all the air being forced from your lungs creates anoxia, a more serious form of hypoxia.  Pretty boring really.

But just for fun- let’s find out what else will happen to you…

  • Your bowels would discharge.  Yep, in a vacuum like space your body would expel not only the air in your lungs, but also the poop in your colon.  Moving on!
  • The saliva in your mouth would begin to boil- not due to heat, but because of Boyle’s Law, which states:  at a constant temperature for fixed mass, the absolute pressure and volume of a gas are inversely proportional.  In other words-in a vacuum- water with no pressure boils instantly; again, not because it’s hot, just because it does.
  • You would begin to feel tightness in your skin as it began to expand and swell due to the lack of pressure.  The saliva in your mouth that’s boiling- well that’s happening to the rest of the liquid in your body as well.  It’s becoming a gas and expanding, causing swelling and bursting the capillaries.
  • If you are in view of the sun, you would be instantly and severely sunburned because of the tremendous amount of UV exposure.  Remember, the Earth’s atmosphere keeps the sun’s deadly UV light from killing us all.  Shewww.  Thank you Earth!

In total you might have about 15 seconds where you would remain conscious after which your brain would begin to shut down from lack of O2.  It is possible, and studies have shown, that animals exposed to this vacuum for up to 3 ½ minutes were able to make a full recovery; all though you would feel pretty awful for a while.

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