Add to Google  The Space Elevator Search Engine    
Outer Space Exposure

This is interesting to me because I have a short SF piece in the works about a psycho living in the LEO colony engendered by the space engine who kills by pushing people out into space unprotected and letting them fall into the atmosphere to dispose of the bodies. (Don't get any ideas now)

Researching this was in the plan ( LOL plan eh? ;> ) and I'm glad I found it. It removes one excuse for not working on that piece. I guess, like lot of others, I had the 'Hollywood' explosive decompression image in my head. The reality actually has more potential for literary imagery.

My thanks to and Alan Bellows who posted this on November 27th, 2006 at 6:51 am.

{I hit the highlights only but the details and background are worth reading --PB--}

"In scores of science fiction stories, hapless adventurers find themselves unwittingly introduced to the vacuum of space without proper protection. [The Hollywood version of what happens]does not reflect the reality of exposure to outer space.

Ever since humanity first began to probe outside of our protective atmosphere, a number of live organisms have been exposed to vacuum, both deliberately and otherwise. By combining these experiences with our knowledge of outer space, scientists have a pretty clear idea of what would happen if an unprotected human slipped into the cold, airless void."


"When the human body is suddenly exposed to the vacuum of space, a number of injuries begin to occur immediately. Though they are relatively minor at first, they accumulate rapidly into a life-threatening combination."


"Expansion of gases within the lungs and digestive tract due to the reduction of external pressure ... the lungs rupture and spill bubbles of air into the circulatory system."


"Water spontaneously converts into vapor, [causing] the moisture in a victim's mouth and eyes to quickly boil away [and evaporates the water]in the muscles and soft tissues ... prompting some parts of the body to swell to twice their usual size after a few moments."


"Nitrogen dissolved in the blood forms gaseous bubbles - a painful condition known to divers as "the bends."


"The gas exchange of the lungs works in reverse, dumping oxygen out of the blood and accelerating the oxygen-starved state known as hypoxia. After about ten seconds a victim will experience loss of vision and impaired judgement ... unconsciousness and convulsions would follow several seconds later ..."


"[In ninety seconds] the blood pressure would fall sufficiently that the blood itself would begin to boil."

I spent way too much reading some of the other articles on Damn Interesting. It's an excellent site. Bellows et al have a real flair for digging up interesting topics. --PB--

Space Elevator ROI Excerpt II

The second in a series of excerpts from an article I contributed to;

Liftport: The Space Elevator: Opening Space To Everyone
edited by Michael J Laine, Tom Nugent, Bill Fawcett
Published 2006 - 308 pages

Limited preview
- Table of Contents - About this book

[Links to previous/following posts in this series listed below]

In the first excerpt (see below or in the archives) Jim Benson of SpaceDev explained the fundamentals of space industry economics.

Benson draws on his decades of experience to delineate one of the problems of making an SE project sustainable - ”keeping [the SE] from being destroyed by [space] junk” and in doing so comes out as one of the first space environmentalists.

“I think it’s inevitable [that we have to] vacuum the vacuum. We’ve got to stop generating [space debris] and clean up what exists,” Benson explains. “People thought the ocean was so big that that it just didn’t matter and here we are not only polluting it but depopulating it.

“Most of the satellites and therefore debris are at LEO. [Debris] is a huge consideration. One I don’t think they have a good answer for yet.”

Benson has but to ask the author of his inspiration, Dr. John S. Lewis, Planetary Sciences Professor at the University of Arizona about the space debris problem. Dr. Lewis sees not only a danger but also a recycling opportunity in the man-made space flotsam orbiting our globe.

“They’re not only threatening debris they are a fairly substantial source of solar cells and metals. You can assume that any spacecraft that’s died up there has exhausted its attitude control fuel so you don’t really expect to retrieve volatiles,” explains Dr. Lewis. “On the other hand you do have the structural metals and solar cells. I’m sure that if you do have a source of any kind of mass up there you’d think of a way to use it if only for radiation shielding.”

Dr. Lewis points out that gravitational geographies preclude a geosynchronous SE from use as a launch platform for all but a scant few asteroid mining expeditions but an SE still has practical benefits over blasting into space.

“If you’re talking about a geosynchronous tether, it has two main functions as I see it,” says Dr. Lewis. “It has the ability to put large masses in GEO and launch science payloads at very high speeds to a wide range of destinations. Those are the clear-cut advantages.”

He has no trouble listing several commercial satellite applications.

“Solar Power Satellites (SPS) number one … a constellation of [manufacturing] stations girdling the earth … and orbital hotels,” outlines Dr. Lewis. “[The potential of] orbital hotels should not be under-rated. This is a real cheap way to get to GEO and you should be thinking of having tourists up there.

“If you’re talking about launching one or more communications or surveillance platforms in geosynchronous orbit this is a great way to do it,” Dr. Lewis concludes.

Look for another excerpt next week or subscribe to SEJ by clicking


Space Elevator ROI (Excerpt I)

Space Elevator ROI (Excerpt III)

Labels: , ,

News by Google   Latest Space Elevator Headlines by Google News™