• Question: what happens when your ill in space?

    Asked by mason and neve are the be to Simon, Julia, Delma, Andrew, Alex on 14 Dec 2015. This question was also asked by 337nch35, 548nch35, tomas and sasha;).
    • Photo: Simon Challis

      Simon Challis answered on 14 Dec 2015:

      Hey Mason and all!

      Great question!

      We all try very hard including the astronauts themselves not to get sick in space. It starts already on the ground when two weeks before launch the crew go into quarantine. This is usually very effective and as far as I am aware most astronauts do not suffer anything worse than a bit of space sickness when they get into space.

      In any case it is important to be ready incase someone gets sick in space. On-board the crew have very extensive medical supplies and are trained to be rudimentary doctors to treat all kinds of problems that an astronaut might have.

      In addition to that the crew talk regularly to their personal doctors and psychologists to try to identify any problems early so that it is easier to treat them.

      Ultimately, although extremely unlikely, it is not impossible that a crewmember could become so ill that they would no longer be able to remain in space. Is this kind of scenario the entire Soyuz crew (3 astronauts) would have to return to Earth so that their crewmate could be treated by medical professionals. All three have to go back because otherwise the other two astronauts would have no easy way of getting back to earth themselves. So you see that having a really sick astronaut would have a big impact on ISS operations but luckily this has not yet happened.