Though no space exploration agency officially admits that this is part and parcel of their operational policy but are there “incidental precedents” that necessitating astronauts and cosmonauts to carry firearms with them to space?
By: Ringo Bones
Just imagine the Soyuz capsule or any other human astronaut ferrying space exploration vehicle while returning to Earth from the International Space Station suddenly develop problems from their ballistic computer that inadvertently resulted in landing off-course hundreds of miles from their intended landing site and what if said astronauts suddenly find themselves in the middle of a conflict zone or remote wilderness area? Would one ask if they have the appropriate guns with them to defend themselves? Though I’ve been wishing since as far back as 1992 after seeing a somewhat similar scenario on the TV series Seaquest DSV and during 2005 after not seeing such scenarios featured in various “War on Terror” era action TV series such as The Unit, 24 or The E-Ring to pitch such a military operation scenario to rescue stranded astronauts held hostage on the Taliban controlled parts of Helmand Province in Afghanistan or North Korea. Even though not a single NASA director or the top brass at the current Russian Space Program both officially and openly discuss on allowing astronauts and cosmonauts the requisite firearms with them to space but should astronauts and cosmonauts carry appropriate firearms and other weapons systems in order to defend themselves whenever they got “stranded” in a hostile environment here on Earth and not just in case they meet hostile green or gray-skinned extra-terrestrial biological beings?
The April 2008 Soyuz Space Capsule landing hundreds of miles off-course incident, though fortunately not in a hostile warzone or into a very remote Siberian wilderness may have saved mission commander PeggyWhitson and team from contemplating such a somewhat “unthinkable” scenario but back in 2010, someone managed to leak on the internet that carrying firearms with them to space has been part and parcel with Soviet-era cosmonauts since the early years of the “Space Race”. Since 1965, Soviet era Russian cosmonauts began carrying compact version shotguns with them on their space missions after a few months before a Soyuz capsule returning from Earth orbit landed hundreds of miles off-course from its intended landing spot in Kazakhstan and instead landed in a very remote spot in Northern Siberia. It took the then Soviet Air Force 3 days to reach the stranded cosmonauts and for a few nights only used the onboard flare guns to defend them from an incident involving being attacked by wolves.
Some of today’s kids often quip the most often quoted answer that these astronauts are “non-combatants” and “are protected under international law” unbeknown to these kids who probably never been in a camping trip never mind part of their local Boy Scouts that “existing international laws and treaties” can never prevent astronauts, offshore oil rig workers, freight ship crew, etc. from having their heads cleanly blown off from a 666-Grain .50 caliber bullet travelling at 3,000-feet-per-second or being killed by wild animals like bears and wolves – never mind held for ransom for millions of dollars. With existing precedents and events, don’t be alarmed if NASA astronauts began to be seen with the same firearms being carried by NASA security personnel – like the Knights Armament Company’s Personal Defense Weapon / PDW with them whenever they go to and return from the International Space Station.