What Happens If An Astronaut Goes Crazy In Space?
It's a cold, hard reality that astronauts could potentially lose their sanity during the 260 days it takes to get from Earth to Mars, or even just orbiting the Earth in claustrophobia-inducing ISS. And although we know how to drink coffee in space and that sex is apparently difficult—yet doable—there's still one question that's been left unanswered: what's protocol if an astronaut snaps mid-flight?
According to the CBS report:
It turns out NASA has a detailed set of written procedures for dealing with a suicidal or psychotic astronaut in space. The documents, obtained this week by The Associated Press, say the astronaut's crewmates should bind his wrists and ankles with duct tape, tie him down with a bungee cord, and inject him with tranquilizers if necessary.
One big caveat? No guns of any kind—stun or otherwise—are allowed in space. This means the crew is largely dependent on their own strength to control an unmanageable astronaut. Once restrained, the astronaut can be administered tranquilizers or anti-depression, anti-anxiety, and antipsychotic medication depending on their condition. Should they not voluntarily take these medicines, the drugs could be forcibly administered with a shot to the arm.
Luckily, according to NASA spokesman James Hartsfield, "No NASA astronaut at the space station has been treated in orbit with antipsychotic or anti-depression medication, and no NASA shuttle crew member has required antipsychotic medications."
NASA requires their astronauts to see a psychologist every two weeks, meaning disorders could be detected quickly, but what about space tourism? When we start sending untrained millionaires into space, shuffling them into tiny quarters and deep isolation, you have to think it's only a matter of time before something goes wrong.