At least 21 lives have been lost since the first man climbed into a rocket and jetted off into space 60 years ago, and, as space agencies prepare for the first human mission to Mars, many are sure the death toll will rise.
Astronauts heading to the Red Planet will spend at least seven months inside a capsule on a path never taken by humans and, if they survive the journey, they will then endure the harsh environment on the Martian planet.
When a crew member dies, it would take months or years before the body was returned to Earth, raising one question: What happens to the body?
Experts have suggested a number of ways to dispose of the body, including to “jettison” it into the dark abyss or burying the person on Mars – but the remains would first need to be burnt to not contaminate the surface.
However, a worst case scenario has been presented in which the space faring heroes run out of food and the only thing edible is the body of their fallen crew mate.
We are entering an exciting space age that many hope will lead to the first boots on Mars. However, as SpaceX CEO Elon Musk once said: “If you want to go to Mars, prepare to die.”
Nasa does not have set protocols for dealing with death in space, but researchers around the world have put the work in to respectfully dispose of a fallen astronaut, as reported on by Popular Science.
If a crew member dies while making the more than 170 million-mile journey to Mars, the body can be placed in cold storage or can be freeze-dried until the craft touches down.
Freeze-drying in space is different from on Earth – the body would be held outside the capsule, where space would cover it in ice. But if keeping it cold is not an option, the surviving crew can send their deceased mate out into the universe. – MailOnline