Have you ever worried how real astronauts or cosmonauts can defend themselves or render harmless hostile life forms? What if an alien breaks into the International Space Station? Or a crew member loses his or her mind and goes berserk? The following set of images will put your mind to ease: aspacemen always carry some kind of weapon or at least a special tool which can be used as a weapon.

US made astronaut survival pocket knife

This 1959 Camillus folding knife was carried aboard Mercury Freedom 7 as part of Alan Shepard’s survival kit, on May 5, 1961.

The first orbital survival knife (1960-0963)

Model 17 “Astro” hand-wrought survival knives created by Randall Made Knives were carried by Mercury astronauts. The fixed blade knives with a large guard and a 5.5 inch blade were strong enough to pry open the capsule hatch if needed, and featured a hollow handle to store survival essentials in case the spacecraft landed in rough terrain or in Soviet territory.

Case ”Astronaut’s Knife - M-1" machete

NASA commissioned a new astronaut survival knife, the M-1, from W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co. for the survival gear of Gemini and Apollo missions. Fitted with a lightweight polypropylene handle, a 17″ blade, and saw teeth along the back of the blade. The base of the blade was left blunt so it could be used for prying. The Gemini and Apollo capsules were designed to splashdown in the ocean near the equator, and the Case M-1 that accompanied them was made for use in the jungle in case they landed off course.

Simple penetrometer

This device was used to give a rough measurement of the firmness or resistance to penetration of lunar soil. No doubt: it could have functioned as a piercing melee weapon too.

Lunar golf club

The makeshift golf club that NASA astronaut Alan Shepard used to hit two golf balls on the Moon during Apollo 14 in February 1971 also would have been a handy melee weapon.

Apollo inflight exerciser

On the Apollo 11 flight, this equipment allowed the astronauts to exercise within the limited confines of an Apollo spacecraft. Lethal weapon as a sling, or as a choke rope.

Dinner flatware

The spiky and serrated table knife among the Skylab II (SL-3) eating utensils surely can be used as a weapon.

Victorinox Swiss Army knife

The famous multi functional pocket knife manufactured by Victorinox AG is among the everyday tools aboard the International Space Station. It has a very sharp blade, and it has been present on NASA missions since the late Seventies.

Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA

TP-82, the Soviet machete gun

It is definitely not recommended to use firearms or other recoiling weapons in the kinetic weightlessness, but this does not mean that there are no such weapons in space. The Russian Soyuz Space capsule usually has weapons in its survival kit to protect astronauts from wild animals-especially bears–if it happened to land in remote forest regions, such as Siberia. The three barrel, two-over/one-under TP-82 gun was developed specifically for the Soyuz program. One barrel is for shooting cartridges, one is for firing shotgun shells, and the third to fire flares, and the removable stock can be used as a machete. The initiator and one of the participants in its development was cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, the first spacewalker, who once were stranded in a remote forest for days after landing. From 1982 until 2006, cosmonauts always carried a TP-82 into space-even to ISS–hidden in the Soyuz Portable Emergency-Survival Kit. (According to several news reports a regular semi-automatic pistol is used since 2007 because Roscosmos run out of stock of the special ammunition for TP-82).

Photo: Teddy Reagan

Soviet laser pistols

Yes, these are real handheld laser weapons developed in the 1980s for cosmonauts. These futuristic pistols used pyrotechnic flashbulb ammunition, and their primary function was to disable optical sensors on enemy spacecraft or satellites. Allegedly the laser beams of these recoilless guns were energetic enough to burn through a helmet visor, or to blind anybody from 65 feet.

Photo: Polit Russia
Photo: Polit Russia
Photo: Polit Russia
Photo: Polit Russia
Photo: Polit Russia


This is not a promo shot for Half-Life. Astronaut Kenneth D. Bowersox, mission commander poses with a crowbar from a tool set onboard Space Shuttle Columbia, in 1995.

Photo: NASA

Meat cleaver aboard the Mir space station

In this 1997 photo Mir 22 commander Valeri Korzun uses a meat cleaver to slice pieces of sausage.

Photo: NASA

Emerson Specwar Knife

This folding knife was made under contract for NASA for use on Space Shuttle missions and on the ISS. 30 of these were ordered by NASA and they were delivered in 1999.

Power tools

There are several type of cordless power tools astronauts use in space regularly. Equipped with a drill bit-or something more nasty–those tools can be really dangerous weapons. Pictured here is NASA astronaut John Grunsfeld, STS-125 mission specialist, posing with a power tool on the middeck of Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Photo: NASA

Russian machete

This triangle shaped knife is part of the Soyuz Portable Emergency-Survival Kit.

Photo: Roscosmos
Photo: Roscosmos

Makarov pistol

The Makarov 9mm semi-automatic pistols are widely used by both military and police forces in Russia. Russian Soyuz capsules carry Makarov pistols as a standard part of their survival kits.

Photo: Makarov

Bonus: Whirlpool water guns

Stainless steel water guns provided both hot and cold water aboard several US spacecraft, allowing astronauts to drink clean water and to prepare their dehydrated food. Also they were designed to be used as a fire extinguisher in emergency. Hope you can also imagine deadly water gun battles in space!

Photo: NASA