A while back we did a post of NASA's plan if an astronaut accidentally drifted off into space... With the highly anticipated movie Gravity coming out this friday (Oct.4th) we had to address this scary yet truthful question once again.
Check it out below:
The truth is...
Other than immediate fast acting action by the astronaut in question, there is NO plan at all.
NASA requires spacewalking astronauts to use tethers (and sometimes additional anchors). But should those fail, you'd float off according to whatever forces were acting on you when you broke loose. You'd definitely be weightless. You'd possibly be spinning. In space, no kicking and flailing can change your fate. And your fate could be horrible. At the right angle and velocity, you might even fall back into Earth's atmosphere and burn up. That's why NASA has protocols that it drills into astronauts for such situations. You would be wearing your emergency jetpack, called SAFER, which would automatically counter any tumbling to stabilize you. Then NASA's plan dictates that you take manual control and fly back to safety.What are your thoughts on this...?? Are you excited as I am for the movie as well...??
However, if the pack's three pounds of fuel runs out, if another astronaut doesn't quickly grab you, or if the air lock is irreparably damaged, you're in big trouble. No protocols can save you now. (In fact, there aren't any.) At the moment, there's no spacecraft to pick you up. The only one with a rescue-ready air-locked compartment—the Space Shuttle—is in retirement. So your only choice is to orbit, waiting for your roughly 7.5 hours of breathable air to run out. It wouldn't be too terrible. You might get a little hungry, but there's up to a liter of water available via straw in your helmet.