From the January 2018 issue

Next time you’re in space…

Don’t believe everything you see in the movies.
By | Published: January 31, 2018 | Last updated on May 18, 2023

At the end of some sci-fi movies (think Total Recall or Outland), the bad guy is pushed out the spaceship’s airlock. You know what happens next. He explodes.

But such scenes do not match the reality of space. In the 1960s, NASA built a bunch of altitude chambers to mimic the hostile environment of low air pressure. Volunteers experienced the conditions found at various altitudes, and a few animal tests — thankfully not very many — were conducted with even lower pressures.

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