A Man Experienced the Vacuum of Space for 14 seconds
August 08, 2012
Jim LeBlanc was the test subject for a dangerous NASA test in 1966 designed to test if space suits could withstand a zero-pressure vacuum. But when the tube pressurizing his suit became disconnected, disaster almost struck.
“As I stumbled backwards, I could feel the saliva on my tongue starting to bubble just before I went unconscious and that’s the last thing I remember,” recalls LeBlanc – The temperature at which water boils decreases with pressure.
“Essentially, he had no pressure on the outside of his body and that’s a very unusual case to get,” explains Cliff Hess, the supervising engineer. “There’s very little in the medical literature about what happens when you have that. There’s a lot of conjecture, that your fluids will boil.”
He remained conscious during 14s, before his blood without oxygen reaches the brain.
The room was repressurized in less than 20 seconds and the subject regained consciousness at a pressure corresponding to an altitude of 4.5 km. He kept no sequelae from this experience.