I've seen sci-fi movies where the effects the body being unprotected in outer space are wildly different. In one movie, a guy radios for someone who's been ejected into space to breath all the air from his lungs immediately. In some movies, eyes are pulled from sockets. In others, ice crystals form, and the eyes begin to look a bit red... Sometimes the exposed person is a goner right away, sometimes they're shown to last for a minute or more. The Hollywood portrayals of space exposure just vary tremendously.

So I'm curious, what really happens to the human body in the vacuum of outer space?


2 Answers 2


With regard to the vacuum - Apparently nothing happens as long as you don't hold your breath, just like you shouldn't hold your breath when ascending after scuba diving and the pressure drops. See NASA's answer to the same question. Of course there's the radiation that does other funny things in space, see the NASA link.

  • $\begingroup$ And by "nothing happens" he means you pass out in 10-15 seconds from the lack of air and soon die. And btw there are many other reasons why you would die besides the lack of oxygen and radiation.. $\endgroup$
    – zoran404
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 23:11
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    $\begingroup$ @zoran404 lol I guess he means "nothing spectacular happens" - no eyes bleeding or instant death. $\endgroup$
    – J.Todd
    Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 8:37

If a person was in space without her spacesuit/helmet, she would feel a suffocation feeling, likely making breathing motions even though there is no air to breathe. She would also feel her sweat, saliva, tears, mucous, and any other water on her body boil off, though her body would maintain blood pressure, at least until her heart stopped. She would be unconscious within 15-20 seconds and dead within 90-120 seconds. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrILTVRcW6A

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    $\begingroup$ Please add some reliable references to back up your statements here. And note that the person doesn't have to be teleported, their suit or airlock only needs to fail. $\endgroup$
    – L.B.
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 19:02

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