Space Shuttle Sneak

Kind of a stupid question here but how would one go about sneaking onboard a space shuttle and taking a space suit if they were to want to do something like that? What would it involve and is there even a slight remote chance that someone with the access cards or whatever could get in and stowaway?

Good luck with that, since the program was canceled a few years ago.
Even when it was running, there was 0.00% chance of doing this - the crew area is too small to miss another person hiding there, and the cargo area is open to the vacuum of space.

It could be done. That’s why they exploded Challenger! :eek:

Besides what beowulff said, the Shuttle astronauts WORE their spacesuits during launch, there wouldn’t be suits just hanging around for you to slip into. Spacesuits cost millions of dollars and are monitored carefully as they are literally the difference between life and death.

Your best bet would probably be to hide underneath the external fuel tank. Then jump over to the shuttle and hitch a ride when they released it and wait for the cargo bay doors to open. But you might want to wear some insulation. You’d be out of the plume of the SRBs but it still might get pretty hot.

I’m pretty sure the suits are also custom-fitted to their wearers, so even if you stole one, it wouldn’t be any good to you.

That was true up to and including Apollo, but starting with the Shuttle program NASA adopted standardized sizes of spacesuits (to some degree at least). Part of the whole ‘truck in space’ reusable concept of the Shuttle program.

Without *any *clearances you couldn’t get within miles of a ready to launch Shuttle, let alone stowaway on board. And any & everyone who is involved in the final boarding prep of the crew is and would be accounted for.

So no, not a chance.

The suits they wore during launch weren’t actually space suits, as such, they were pressure suits, similar to those worn by high-altitude Air Force pilots, intended to provide life-support during an emergency. The space suits used for space walks (the Extravehicular Mobility Units) were stowed away until needed.

But yes, there’s no way anyone would be walking off with either one of them, or even getting on board to try.

Then there’s that small problem of giving you instructions for doing something that would break several laws.


You are a plucky teenager who is a space enthusiast…

You can fake a crappy badge…

You weigh less than the error budget for the amount of frost that forms on the space craft…

AND you carry a metal lunch box so you look like one of the “guys”…

You might just sneak on to a spacecraft.

I saw a documentary about it once.

AND BTW…unless you plan on doing a space walk a space suit really isn’t needed. As far as I know exactly zero people have been saved because there was a spacesuit available when an emergency occured.

I don’t think sneaking aboard a now non-existant space-craft is against the law.

With cooperation from a pretty large fraction of the ground crew, maybe someone could be stowed in the various cargo spaces? The mid-deck has 140 cubic feet of stowage space, as well as several sleeping compartments (though I’m guessing those sleeping compartments aren’t sturdy enough to hold a human during launch). On some missions, the Shuttle also carried a rather large pressurized cargo module, the MPLM. That had space for 9 tons of cargo, a lot of it stored in man-sized bags. However, that thing is packed up and closed away a long time before launch – 18 days in the case of STS-135.

I saw a video once of an astronaut getting in and out a basically a storage drawer. So, if you were small and flexible, there is theorectically a place to hide.

What, no cites? :stuck_out_tongue:

This Q makes me want to reread Have Spacesuit, Will Travel.

Daaaaang, I haven’t thought about that movie in decades. Don’t suppose you remember the name of it?

Stowaway to the Moon - Wikipedia ? I saw that when it was new.

So you know how to sneak aboard a space shuttle and go into outer space and board the International Space Station but you’re not going to share?

The Lanuch Entry Suit (LES) and Advanced Crew Escape Suit (ACES) were only worn by crew after the Challenger failure to ensure crew consiousness in a loss of pressurization event or (for the ACES) deployment of the Inflight Crew Escape System (ICES). The LES and ACES are dependent upon the Orbiter air supply and environmental control systems and do not have the radiation or thermal conditioning systems associated with true space exposure suits like the A7L or EMU suits used during Apollo and Shuttle eras.

However, the STS Orbiter was designed to provide a ‘shirt sleeve’ environment from launch to landing, and the LES/ACES is purely intended as a safety measure against unexpected failure. A hypothetical stowaway could certain fly on the Shuttle without one. A larger problem would be the thrust and orientation during ascent where the Shuttle rolls belly up while experiencing accelerations approaching 3 g. The astronauts are securely harnessed in so as to provide a safe and comfortable (as possible) ride to orbit. Your stowaway, however, is going to be tossed hither and zither and bearing several times his weight in a variety of orientations as the Shuttle reorients.


I would never have guessed that there would be a GQ so aptly titled for this image:

Thanks for making this real.