Science fiction thrillers frequently feature accidents that cause astronauts to float away into space. Though this has yet to happen in the real world, it is a risk every astronaut is well-aware of when embarking on a spacewalk or Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA). To prevent the nightmare scenario, space explorers are not only tethered to the spacecraft but also fitted with a backup safety kit.
Dubbed Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER), the “life jacket,” which is worn like a backpack, contains a bottle of pressurized nitrogen and tiny thrusters. In the unlikely event that an astronaut gets untethered, he/she can use the joy-stick-like controller attached to the front of the spacesuit to return to the spacecraft. The only drawback is that SAFER is manually operated, which means it is of no use if the astronaut becomes unconscious, gets injured, or is simply too panicked to navigate back. The system also requires an extensive amount of ground training.