Space is scary. And hard. Despite the fact that more than 500 people have visited the space, not all of them have returned alive. Go to a height of four hundred kilometers, set foot on the surface of the Moon or conquer another planet – this journey automatically becomes adventurous. What could be worse than an open cosmos, ruthless and silent? After all, anything can happen, and no one will help.
When in a sweaty space suit an astronaut begins to scratch his body, you can go crazy. If the nose itches, the astronauts have a device that clamps it to pierce ears, as swimmers and airmen do. With this it is clear. If the top of the cheeks is scratched, there is a microphone and a straw for drinking. But if you scratch your forehead, nothing can be done about it, you have to suffer.
Did you know that in outer space you can … drown? In July 2013, when the cosmonauts of the International Space Station performed a routine spacewalk – well, you know, fix-painting an antenna, hanging on a wire in the background of the Earth – then the Italian Luca Parmitano felt something completely unexpected. Water ran down his neck. At first he decided not to be distracted and to finish what had been started, but very soon the water stood literally before his eyes and began to fill his mouth and nose. He did not see anything. In an incomprehensible way, the astronaut managed without panic, literally from memory to reach the airlock, where the crew helped him to dump the suit and again breathe in full. In the helmet of the cosmonaut was about two liters of water.
The cosmonauts' work station – the International Space Station – hangs over our planet at an altitude of about four hundred kilometers and moves at a huge speed – twenty-seven thousand seven hundred kilometers per hour. Can you imagine? And this means that if an astronaut, working in open space, accidentally loses a wrench, glove or even a drop of paint … this garbage will also fly at great speed until it collides with something. Even a tiny drop of paint, which flies ten times faster than a bullet in an airless space, can instantly pierce the shell of the space suit and kill the cosmonaut. Small meteorites sometimes break through the skin of the ISS, but, fortunately, they have not killed anyone yet. Why fortunately? Because the death of astronauts can put an end to our space program.
And the most terrible events occurred, of course, at the dawn of the space program, when we still so badly knew the cosmos and its ruthless temperament. And if not space, then the Earth itself and its atmosphere are sometimes the steepest test for cosmonauts.
On November 14, 1969, the Americans were preparing to launch the Apollo 12 spacecraft. The weather was not the most sunny, but not the most gloomy, so the forecasters gave the go-ahead for the launch. And 36 seconds after the launch of the spacecraft, they realized how wrong they were. The climbing Apollo 12 was struck by lightning, shaking not only the astronauts, but also disconnecting most of the electronics of the ship. The crew tried to hastily start the system again, and then a second lightning struck the device! People were in a completely paralyzed ship at an altitude of several kilometers above the Earth … Fortunately, then everything turned out.
Lightning can strike twice in one place, and a person can be on the verge of death twice. And all because of the cosmos. In 1965, Alexei Leonov became the first person to go into open space. Leaving the spacecraft Voskhod-2 on March 18, Leonov spent twenty minutes in the cold darkness of the vacuum. But immediately after the release of terrible things began to happen: his suit was swollen. Do not forget: this was the first spacewalk, who could foresee all the consequences? The astronaut's gloves were puffed up so that his fingers turned into useless sausages, and the suit did not let him go through the airlock and literally locked it outside the ship. Leonov decided to take desperate measures: release oxygen from the suit to reduce pressure. In case of failure, he could die from suffocation and lack of precious air. But he managed, and we learned how to make the right spacesuits.
However, on this dangerous adventures of Leonov did not end. Returning home, to Earth, the capsule of the cosmonaut and his crewmate failed. The malfunction led to the fact that after landing the astronauts were not where they should be, in the circle of friends and relatives, but in a trap. The capsule fell in the deep Siberian taiga, thousands of miles away from help, warm soup and soft bed. The astronauts found themselves in the forest with wild animals, practically unarmed, tired, without shelter and food … In frosty weather, they had to strip naked and pour sweat from their spacesuits to avoid frostbite. Needless to say, the Earth can sometimes be more severe than the cosmos itself.
Collecting all will into a fist, exhausted, but brave astronauts did their best to survive. And they succeeded. They have not been forgotten. They managed to wait for the rescuers, who even went where the rovers are deaf.