What kind of problems will occur when a person dies in space?

Even money, as private space companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin developed their own rockets and spacecraft, and Japanese businessman Yusaku Maezawa stayed at the International Space Station (ISS) in December 2021. If so, we are entering an era where we can go on a space trip. However, when human beings advance into space, it is quite possible that tourists will not return in space. Professor Christopher Newman, who studies space law at the University of Northern Bria, and Professor Nick Caplan, who studies aviation medicine and regenerative medicine, explain what happens if a person dies in space.

What happens when someone dies in space? Space tourism brings new legal and moral issues

In modern times, the period of stay in space for sightseeing is from a few minutes to a dozen days. Mr. Maezawa, who was the first Japanese civilian to visit the ISS, stayed for about 12 days . If private tourism space travel becomes more common in the future, it is quite possible that tourists will die while in space.

Under international space law, each country is responsible for authorizing and supervising all domestic space activities. In the United States, commercial tourism space flights require a launch permit issued by the Federal Aviation Administration . And in the unlikely event that a crew member, including passengers, dies on a commercial space trip, it is necessary to identify the cause of death. If the death of an astronaut is confirmed to be due to a spacecraft failure, the Federal Aviation Administration will order the company that provides tourist space flight to suspend the launch until the investigation is completed.

If it is determined that the spacecraft failure is not the cause, consider the duty of care that commercial companies have on all travelers and make every possible effort to save the lives of tour participants. Evaluate if you did.

Furthermore, under the space law resolved by the United Nations, the country that registered the spacecraft has jurisdiction over all of the space structure and crew. Therefore, it is natural to think that the country with jurisdiction over the spacecraft also has the authority to investigate the cause of death of its crew. The Space Shuttle was launched by NASA, a U.S. government agency, although some of the seven astronauts killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster of the year were of non-US nationality. Therefore, the investigation was led by the US government.

At the same time as legal issues, the treatment of the corpse must be resolved. Even if a person dies in space, it is very difficult to drop the body on the earth. Short-term missions can quickly bring the body back to Earth, but it must still be preserved so that it does not affect the hygiene of the surviving crew.

Also, when conducting manned exploration on Mars for many years, it is extremely difficult to safely store the body until it is taken home. Therefore, NASA is studying a method of freezing the body in space, where the average temperature is about minus 270 degrees Celsius, to reduce its weight, and to store it until it returns to the earth.

And if it becomes commonplace to live in outer space, we also need to consider how to dispose of the body in space. In the movie ' Star Trek II Khan's Counterattack ', a scene was drawn in which the body of a deceased character was put into a photon torpedo and launched into space, but in reality the body may become space debris if the same processing is performed. It is not desirable because it is sexual. Burial on another planet can also biologically pollute the planet's environment. Furthermore, cremation is not realistic because it is thought that a large amount of valuable resources will be consumed in space life.

Professors Newman and Caplan said, 'There is no doubt that there will be a technical solution to the storage and disposal of bodies in outer space, but the ethical issue of death in outer space is: It's beyond the limits of anthropological, legal and cultural boundaries. It may be painful, but this issue is one of the necessary debates for humanity to enter outer space. '

in Science, Posted by log1i_yk