How Long Can You Survive in Space?

Humans have always been fascinated by space exploration and the idea of living in space. To date, the longest continuous time a human being has spent in space is 437 days, achieved by Russian astronaut Valeri Polyakov. His Russian compatriot Sergei Krikalev holds the record for the total number of days spent in space, with more than 803 days spread over six flights. International Space Station (ISS) missions usually last about six months, with three to six crew members on board from countries such as the United States, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan.

The Spanish-American space traveler Mike López-Alegria has flown the longest mission of the US space station to date, with 215 days. Former cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov has spent 14 months aboard the Russian space station Mir. However, during the existence of the Space Shuttle, space travel used to last only two weeks. Depending on where you are in space, it'll take between 12 and 26 hours to reach your destination, but if you're near a star, you'll burn to a crisp. Either way, your body will stay that way for a long time. Space suits don't include an oxygen supply tank or any additional padding that protects against cosmic radiation, meaning they can't help survive in open space.

Research has also shown that prolonged periods in space can deregulate the immune system and leave astronauts vulnerable to pathogens, hypersensitivity, and unwanted autoimmune responses. The pressure garment and the life support system work together like a “spaceship” and allow astronauts to conduct research on alien lands or perform essential repair work outside the ISS. The group consists of cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin, and NASA space explorer Chris Cassidy. So, while space threatens human life in several ways, the period during which astronauts can survive in their spacesuits boils down to the amount of oxygen the suits contain. The launch of NASA's SpaceX was scheduled for Wednesday but had to be delayed due to poor weather conditions.

Jeannie Eschenbrenner
Jeannie Eschenbrenner

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