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In Europa Report, two of the astronauts (James and Andrei) are coming to the end of a space walk (and are low on air) when there's an emergency in the form of an explosion. Andrei finds a tear in his suit and is rapidly losing consciousness. James' suit is contaminated with hydrazine. He is advised to avoid re-entering the ship as doing so would contaminate its atmosphere presumably putting everybody else at risk. He therefore chooses to send his colleague back in and is stranded in space (and dies).


  1. What happened to James' tether? Wasn't it Andrei who was untethered?
  2. Couldn't they have used the airlock to switch suits or if there were no suits, flood it with air and rescue Andrei first? Hydrazine exposure does not appear to be (immediately) fatal.
  3. Couldn't a third astronaut have helped James after Andrei had been rescued?

Considering the general attention to detail in the movie, I'm questioning the realism of this scene.

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I found this particular scene the most unbearable (among quite a few actually) of the bunch. 1. While engaged in repairs, astronauts on EVAs use sophisticated hand tools to remove spaceship parts for the very reason jagged pieces could pierce a hole in their suit and the unfortunate die a relatively quick death of oxygen deprivation or having his/her blood boiled away from the difference in a pressurized suit and the zero pressure of deep space. 2. While hydrazine is present in varying part of a craft (used mainly for reentry thrusters as the compound is very volatile), couldn't the writers ha –  user7604 Jan 13 '14 at 22:13
(comment continued from @user7604) - have had one of the characters voice a concern over this event before it happened? It would've gave added credence to the veracity of why it was present to begin with. 3. Hydrazine if very nasty material. Highly toxic, it causes irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat and gives way to dizziness, headache, and nausea. And that's just short term. The liquid is highly corrosive and can do heavy damage to the lungs, liver, spleens, and thyroid. –  iandotkelly Jan 14 '14 at 14:41
Also, WHERE did the Hydrazine come from? –  legomaker Oct 13 '14 at 2:23
Don't astronauts usually use tape for such quick fix in case of suit tear? –  abyx Jun 29 at 7:37

1 Answer 1

From wiki

Hydrazine is highly toxic, and dangerously unstable in the anhydrous form. Symptoms of acute (short-term) exposure to high levels of hydrazine may include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, dizziness, headache, nausea, pulmonary edema, seizures, coma in humans. Acute exposure can also damage the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. The liquid is corrosive and may produce dermatitis from skin contact in humans and animals. Effects to the lungs, liver, spleen, and thyroid have been reported in animals chronically exposed to hydrazine via inhalation. Increased incidences of lung, nasal cavity, and liver tumors have been observed in rodents exposed to hydrazine

Hydrazine is used as propellant and fuel in aircraft and space vehicles. This might have leaked from the ship and fall on James's suit during EVA.

  1. Both were tethered to the ship. When the panel blows up, James tells he still has Andrei tethered.
  2. Hydrazine and humans should not be in the same breathable environment. If they used airlock to switch suits, they would have inhaled hydrazine. It seems to produce dizziness. Hydrazine would have spread throughout the ship. It seems too risky.
  3. Third astronaut could have helped Andrei first. This type of unplanned EVA should have had a backup person kept ready. Here, in this scene, there is no such person.

James could have been saved if Andrei goes in first and fixes his Suit. And comebacks with a portable oxygen breather like in scubadiving, underwater breathing. James could hold on his breath for a few seconds for Andrei to fit breather to James. This link tells me that we can hold for more that one minute in vacuum. After this, they could remove James's spacesuit and enter into airlock.

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