The idea of living in space has always been a source of fascination for Earthlings, and blockbuster movies like The Martian only serve to fan the flames of curiosity. But what makes it so difficult to survive in space? To begin with, the human body has evolved to function under gravitational conditions. Without gravity, muscles and bones weaken, particularly in the legs and lower back. Astronauts are also exposed to galactic cosmic radiation, solar radiation, solar cosmic particles, and geomagnetically bound radiation.
Research has shown that extended periods in space can disrupt the immune system and leave astronauts vulnerable to pathogens, hypersensitivity and unwanted autoimmune responses. Technology is constantly evolving and the number of days an astronaut can maintain a healthy “lifestyle” in space is increasing. The biotechnology company Samsara Therapeutics has expanded to another 1000 square feet of R&D laboratory space in The Oxford, which will help us adjust our protocols and extend the period of time astronauts can stay in space. The film Mission to Mars has a scene that realistically demonstrates what would happen if an astronaut's space suit lost pressure rapidly and were exposed to outer space.
As for the total number of days in space, Sergei Krikalev holds the record with more than 803 days spread over six flights. While Matt Damon did a great job of earning a living on Mars, it left viewers wondering how long humans can survive in space. With the help of Samsara Therapeutics and other research organizations, we are slowly but surely learning more about how to extend our time in space.