Outer space can be highly intimidating, and we know the space helmet has a vital purpose, but the curious mind can’t help but wonder what space would be like without it.
More specifically, what happens if you take your helmet off in space? In a mere few seconds, all of the astronauts’ lungs’ oxygen will be pulled out by the vacuum of space. After that, you only have a minute or two left until death.
It’s pretty gruesome, to say the least.
But, let us now explore the topic further. Including whether anyone has actually attempted to do so.
You’re going to want to stick around and keep reading.
It gets rather interesting.
So buckle up, secure that helmet and keep it firmly… on.
What Happens if You Remove Your Helmet In Space?
Within 15 seconds, all of the oxygen will disappear from your bloodstream, causing you to go unconscious. From this point, the astronaut would have up to two minutes max before death.
Additionally, you would feel temperatures of -272 degrees when you remove the helmet, or it can reach 272 degrees if you’re facing the sun.
With the sheer force from the vacuum of space, any attempts at trying to breathe would cause severe pain as well.
The human body isn’t able to withstand the raw power of space without assistance.
And this comes in the form of a helmet and a spacesuit.
We require a very particular atmosphere for every part of our body to function correctly.
The entire body suffers through this process, and it primarily comes down to low pressure and lack of oxygen.
Low pressure would cause the saliva, blood, and even organs to boil.
About 90-120 seconds after you remove the helmet, you would die from asphyxiation.
Your body would continue to drift and eventually become frozen solid. Temperatures aren’t the same everywhere in outer space, so, depending on where you’re body is, it would generally take 12-26 hours to become frozen.
Yes, a gruesome outcome, but this is precisely why our space suits are built with the necessary protection.
Space is a harsh environment, but we can adapt to it with the right technology and education.
It’s also important to note; there are many places that you can remove your helmet in space, based on where you are and various environmental factors.
For the most part, it’s wise to keep the helmet on at all times.
Luckily, if you happen to remove your helmet, you would only suffer for a short time.
Has Anyone Removed Their Helmet in Space?
Fortunately, no one has attempted to remove their helmet while floating in the vacuum of space.
This topic has some interesting peculiarities about space.
While on a voyage in the universe, there are some places you can take off your helmet and survive, at least for a more extended period.
All the human body needs are atmospheric conditions that meet our needs, and there are some atmospheres out in our solar system that display the potential for these very qualities.
Venus is the best example of this, as it has a layer in its upper atmosphere that is manageable for us to exist in.
Of course, this would only be possible with the right technology, and we would still have to worry about sulfuric acid clouds.
This layer in the Venusian atmosphere is 65% of Earth’s air pressure, so sure you could take off your helmet in the right conditions and take a deep breath, but you’d inhale the toxic acid.
If we found a way to protect ourselves from sulfuric acid, we would freely exist in that layer of atmosphere on Venus.
Remember, these space helmet rules only apply if you expose yourself to the harsh environment of space.
If you’re inside the space station, you’re free to wear your regular clothes comfortably, as long as the atmospheric conditions within the ship are maintained.
It’s not uncommon for astronauts to go on spacewalks to fix something for the space station.
Although it can be a fantastic experience, it’s vital to be cautious and make sure you and your equipment stay protected.
Even with this protection, there’s still micro debris flying through space at thousands of miles per hour.
These hazards can easily damage a space helmet, quickly exposing you to a deadly environment.
How Long Can You Survive Without a Helmet in Space?
The moment you take your helmet off, you only have up to 15 seconds of consciousness and two minutes before your body shuts down.
Unfortunately, the environmental conditions of outer space are very deadly to the human body and, the effects of being exposed to this environment are incredibly rapid.
No one in their right mind would willingly remove their helmet in out space, knowing the consequences that are about to follow.
Maybe it isn’t your fault, and micro debris collided with your helmet.
As much as you may want to save yourself, there wouldn’t be much you could do.
Once you remove the helmet, all oxygen in your body will be pulled out and disappear.
This happens so fast that your body won’t initially register that it’s entirely out of oxygen, so your heart will continue to pump blood.
Depending on your location, the skin on your face will start burning or freezing, and the pressure would cause all bodily fluids to boil.
All of this occurs over a period of 90-120 seconds, and we should all be thankful that we wouldn’t be conscious to experience it all.
Once the vacuum of space takes the oxygen from your lungs, your immediate reaction is to try and inhale.
Even if you couldn’t control it, trying to breathe without your helmet would be a painful mistake.
One that you would, unfortunately, experience within your 15 seconds of consciousness.
Technically, if you were much closer to the spaceship, it’s possible you could survive if you made it back to the ship in under 15 seconds.
Regardless, your body will still be in shock due to the rush of damage it took from the vacuum of outer space.
Although your internal fluids would eventually boil, this process causes your bodily fluid to lose heat energy very quickly.
This would cause them to freeze before they were able to evaporate from your body entirely.
Boiling liquids within your body would cause you to expand, but it’s essential to understand that you would not simply explode.
Even during your 15 seconds of consciousness, it’s possible to feel micro asteroids hitting your head at extremely high speeds.
This danger alone could cut your life short before you ever reach your 15-second limit.
Taking your helmet off in space would, for the most part, lead to very regrettable outcomes.
Well, you wouldn’t even be able to regret them!
Of course, there are some exceptions here.
And one thing remains that is quite fascinating; are we ever going to find somewhere in space where taking off a helmet is actually feasible?!
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Hey, my name is Chris. I’m a passionate and seasoned astronomer who loves nothing more than observing the night sky. I also love researching, learning, and writing all things Space and the Universe. I created Astronomy Scope to share my knowledge, experience, suggestions, and recommendations of what I have learned along the way while helping anyone to get into and maximize their enjoyment of the hobby.