Popular space myths debunked by astronaut Chris Hadfield

Myth: Your body will burn up in space if sucked out of the airlock

Truth: “In truth, it’s way worse than that. In the shade, in space, it’s -250 degrees but the part of you that’s in the sun – it’s +250 degrees at least. So it’s going to start boiling and burning. It’s like laying on a red-hot stove with a piece of dry ice on your back. Your lungs are going to be sucked flat instantaneously. What’s worse than that is your blood is going to boil.”

Myth: You have to work out constantly or you will pass out or die

Truth: “Living on a spaceship is the most lazy existence you can imagine. You’re weightless, you do not have to lift a finger, you don’t have to hold your head up, your heart doesn’t lift your blood against gravity. You can be the laziest person in the universe in space. Eventually, you’ll need to come back to Earth and if you don’t exercise for the whole 6 months in space you’ll sort of turn into a jellyfish. So we do exercise two hours a day on a spaceship.”

Myth: Space smells like barbecue or brunt steak

Truth: “That’s true. When you come in from spacewalk you’re surrounded by the emptiness of space, it’s sort of like the opposite of air – there’s nothing there at all. When you quickly repressurize the hatch and open it and you smell what is that lingering smell from a place that used to be exposed to space, the smell is like that trace of a smell like gunpowder or a burnt steak. To me, it’s sort of like brimstone.”

Myth: You won’t age traveling at the speed of light

Truth: “That’s not really true. Einstein called it relativity because your aging will be different relative to people’s aging on Earth. You’ll still age, time will still pass for you but people on earth will age at a different rate.”

Myth: If something explodes in space, it makes no sound

Truth: “It’s a pretty easy question to answer. The Sun is just an explosion. The Sun is the biggest explosion any of us can imagine. It’s a huge continuous thermonuclear explosion. It’s constantly happening but we don’t hear a whisper of it and that’s because there’s nothing to carry the sound from the Sun to us. So if something explodes in space it makes a sound but there’s no way for that sound to be carried across space so that I can hear it.”

Myth: NASA is working on warp speed to travel at the speed of light

Truth: “Warp speed is an invention of science fiction. If we knew how to work on warp speed, we would. We don’t know how to go anywhere near the speed of light. It takes an unlimited amount of energy – the faster you go the more energy it takes.”

Myth: You have to freeze yourself to survive interstellar travel

Truth: “We don’t know how to do that. When you freeze water, which is what we’re mostly made of, it turns into ice crystals. If you allow the beautiful delicate nature of your human body to expand into ice crystals, it’ll destroy the structure and kill you.”

Myth: You can fly yourself to the stratosphere with a ballon

Truth: “You can actually but it’s really complicated. The stratosphere starts at about six or seven miles up, it’s not all that high but it goes on for a long way. There’s not enough air to breathe and you need to have an airliner with the pressure inside to keep your body healthy. If you take the right equipment with you, yes we can us a ballon to lift us high enough to get up into the stratosphere.”

Myth: Your body will expand and you’ll get taller in space

Truth: “Your body sort of gets temporarily longer but it’s not permanent. As soon as you get home and gravity starts doing its work on you, everything squishes back down.”

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