Ever wonder how many dead bodies are in Space? This is a question that we, unfortunately, forget to ask ourselves in humanity’s adventure into space, which fascinates us all.
There are various reasons why humans have been driven to explore space. One of the most significant is the quest for knowledge and understanding of our universe. Space exploration allows us to gain insights into the workings of the cosmos, the origins of our planet, and the possibility of life beyond Earth.
But unfortunately, these journeys don’t always have a happy ending. While human curiosity is always the sole reason behind such research, how ready are we for space travel? How many dead bodies are in space?
How many dead bodies are in space?
As of 2023, there have been 15 astronaut and 4 cosmonaut fatalities during spaceflight that either crossed or clearly intended to cross the boundary of space as defined by the United States, which is 50 miles above sea level.
Astronauts have also died while training for space missions, such as the Apollo 1 launch pad fire that killed an entire crew of three. There have also been some non-astronaut fatalities during spaceflight-related activities. As of 2023, there have been over 188 fatalities in incidents related to spaceflight.
In-flight accidents have killed 15 astronauts and 4 cosmonauts in five separate incidents as of March 2021. Three of them had flown above the Kármán line, which is the edge of space, and one was intended to do so. In each case, the entire crew was killed. As a total of 642 people have flown into space under the USAF definition, and 19 of these have died, the current statistical fatality rate is 2.96 percent.
NASA does not forget to honor them
NASA astronauts who died on duty are remembered and honored at the Space Mirror Memorial at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Merritt Island, Florida. Cosmonauts who died on duty under the Soviet Union were typically honored with burial at the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in Moscow. No Soviet or Russian cosmonauts have died during spaceflight since 1971.
Would a dead body decay in space?
When it comes to the fate of a human body in space, the absence of external organisms such as insects and fungi means that the body wouldn’t decompose in the same way it would on Earth. However, the human body carries its own bacteria, which could multiply rapidly and cause decay if left unchecked onboard a shuttle or the ISS. If left drifting exposed in the vacuum of space, the process of decay would slow to a halt.
The low pressure in space would initially cause most of the water in the body to boil off, leaving behind frozen remains that would halt any biological processes. Depending on the trajectory of the body, it may experience some warming from the side facing the Sun, but this would only accelerate the loss of water, resulting in a dried husk. Ultimately, the harsh environment of space would preserve the remains, leaving a mummified, frozen body that would not decompose in the same way as it would on Earth.
How many animals died in space?
Before manned flight became a reality, the United States primarily used apes as test subjects, whereas the Soviet Union chose to use dogs instead. The reasons behind this choice are not entirely clear, but it is possible that Ivan Pavlov’s work on dog physiology in the late 19th and early 20th century may have played a role, as it provided a strong foundation for the use of canines. Additionally, stray dogs were readily available on the streets of the Soviet Union, making them easy to find and unlikely to be missed.
According to the book Animals In Space by Colin Burgess and Chris Dubbs, the Soviet Union sent dogs into space 71 times between 1951 and 1966, with 17 of those missions resulting in the death of the animal. While the Russian space program continues to use animals in space tests, there has been some hope for the survival of the animal in every case except for that of Laika, the first animal to orbit Earth.
We hope we were able to shed light on the number of fatalities that have occurred in relation to spaceflight and highlight the various ways in which those who lost their lives are honored and remembered. Now that you know the answer to how many dead bodies are in space question, we hope you are able to understand the dangers those humans leap into in the name of science and the continuation of humanity just like AI engineers.