Skydiving is quite common where people jump off a plane with a parachute to land at a predetermined spot. But what happens if you were supposed to do the same from space? For example, what if you accidentally fell from the International Space Station (ISS)? Is there even a remote chance of you surviving such a fall? Here are some facts that will help answer such questions.
Falling from space without suit – Assuming that you fall from space without a space suit, you have around 30 seconds to be rescued safely. You won’t immediately freeze or explode when you fall from space without wearing a space suit. You will have consciousness for around 15 seconds, post which you are likely to black out. Death will occur in around three minutes due to asphyxiation. But if you are rescued withing 30 seconds, there’s a good chance that you will fully recover. At most you will have bruises across your skin.
Falling from space wearing space suit – If you fall off from space wearing a space suit, you will be alive as long as you have oxygen supply. Astronauts on ISS often undertake spacewalk for carrying out repairs and other tasks. The suit protects them and provides them with supply of oxygen.
After how long will you hit earth? – If you fall from space, you won’t immediately fall directly towards earth. That’s because you will be in an orbit. The ISS travels at supersonic speeds, which is maintained to avoid falling back to earth. If you fall from space, you too will start orbiting earth. Assuming that you jump from ISS, it may take around 2.5 years to drop from orbit. Chinese space station Tiangong 1, which is in a lower orbit than ISS, took around 2 years to fall out of orbit.
Will you reach earth? – It’s unlikely that any of your body will find its way back to earth. First, you may be bombarded by thousands of space debris. Next, you will start heating up when you enter earth’s atmosphere. You are likely to be falling at around 6 times the speed of sound. At this speed, temperatures can reach more than 1600° Celsius. This is hot enough to melt iron. Anything or anyone in this situation is likely to be completely pulverized.
As is evident, falling from space will prove fatal. Unless of course you have an Iron Man suit or have special powers like Thor or Superman. As fiction can sometimes become reality, who knows jumping from space can one day become just as common and safe as skydiving. But that’s certainly not happening anytime soon.