A currently trending question on Skeptics.se references a website that makes the claim that:

In Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight to space, he returned in near critical condition after only one hour and forty-eight minutes in space. Clearly, there was some vital element missing in space that we receive on earth. Yuri had plenty of food, water and oxygen and since the flight was less than 2 hours, he only needed oxygen. The critical missing element appears to be the earth’s magnetic field. Since that first flight, pulsed magnetic devices have been used in every space suit and space station.

(Emphasis mine).

Ignoring the statements on Yuri Gagarin's health and just focusing on the question of "pulsed magnetic devices":

  1. Has there been an instance of a space suit / space station that does not generate a magnetic field?
  2. If this is not the case, and a magnetic field is generated by the suit / station, is this generated by a specific device (that could be called a "pulsed magnetic device") with the intention of correcting some medical condition?
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    $\begingroup$ That story is complete BS, Gagarin was fine and space suits do not have, nor have they ever had any sort of pulsed magnetic device. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 9:02
  • 17
    $\begingroup$ There's no list of what spacesuits don't have that I know of, it would be a long list. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 9:12
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ +1 It's not a profound question, but it's always good to see someone ask a nice clear question, looking for factual information in a way that can be (and has been) answered with a definitive yes/no. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 11:25
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    $\begingroup$ @MT0 Fair point, but if you asked "Is it true that all space suits have one of these things?" then people would naturally reach for disproof by counterexample. It just looks weird that your question reads like it's endorsing the quote in the style of "Prove me wrong or I must be right." $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 12:25
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ What really makes me scratch my head is why PULSED?? All that bunk about necessity for a magnetic field, about lack of magnetic field in LEO, about simulating it, about Gagarin's critical condition, okay, some might be misguided beliefs, distorted hearsay, logical conclusions drawn from false premises, but Earth magnetic field, outside geological timescales, is completely permanent so what possessed whoever invented this to think up a pulsed device? Stowing a fridge magnet in a waist pocket would have provided more than enough magnetic field strength to simulate Earth's magnetic field. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 12:38

2 Answers 2


Spacecraft and space suits do NOT generate a magnetic field for medical reasons. Any magnetic fields generated are side effects of using electric motors etc.

The linked question on Skeptics thoroughly debunks the idea, noting that:

  1. Gagarin was not in "critical condition" after his flight; and,
  2. Any flights in LEO are well within Earth's magnetic field.

This question has a schematic of the Apollo life support system. The schematic does not contain a pulsed magnetic device.

  • 11
    $\begingroup$ The schematic does not contain a pulsed magnetic device. "What are they hiding from us!!" - what a paranoid conspiracy theorist reacts with. $\endgroup$
    – corsiKa
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ I may be paranoid, but that does not mean that they are not out to get me! @corsiKa $\endgroup$
    – AnoE
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ There are ideas about things like this to abbreate solar radiation using magnetotails. Nothing implemented though. hou.usra.edu/meetings/V2050/pdf/8250.pdf $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 4:47

Well, an electric motor is arguably a 'pulsed magnetic device', as is a solenoid valve, but good ones try very hard to contain the fields to where they will do useful work.

I suppose one could design a suit without any motors, and it may even have been done, but pumps, blowers and valves and such seem a sort of natural feature of a space craft life support package.

In this sense, yes space vehicles do contain such things, and they ARE necessary for the crews continued well being. If you turn off the electrical power to the life support system and the crew will tend to end up in critical condition fairly quickly!

You can almost always come up with sciency sounding names for mundane technology, "Pulsed magnetic device" = electrical machine of almost any type, and yes you need motors and solenoid control valves to keep the crew alive....

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I would add "But not for the magnetic fields" to the end, and possibly, "Yuri Gagarin's suit did contain these devices", just to round it off. $\endgroup$
    – Kevin Fee
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 16:40
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    $\begingroup$ I am not actually sure that his SUIT did contain much in this way, the capsule certainly did, but the suit itself? I would try very hard to make that part as passive as possible on an early mission like that. Note that this was not a modern EVA suitable suit with life support pack and all the rest, this was a flight suit of I suspect a fairly primitive sort. But yea, if it had much of that stuff it was NOT for the magnetism. $\endgroup$
    – Dan Mills
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 17:14
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    $\begingroup$ Giving it some more thought, I THINK that a space suit using no electrics is in fact barely possible, Gas management in the style of a SCUBA Rebreather (Counter lung, CO2 scrubber and a couple of one way valves), the crews lungs provide the power for gas circulation, and as pressures are so low a simple mechanical pressure regulator to make up the loop to a few PSI above local ambient with O2 should do it as long as the crew have no excess N2 to exhale? Thermal control loop, pumped by perilistatic pumping as the crew moves, water ice sublimator to provide the cooling. Comms are a problem. $\endgroup$
    – Dan Mills
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ Looking into it a bit, yeah, the suit doesn't seem to have any life support, it looks like it was meant to be hooked into the space ship's life support system with the hose the whole time. He didn't do a space walk, he stayed in the ship while in space, so he didn't need a self-contained suit. Point is, even he was surrounded by "pulsed magnetic devices". $\endgroup$
    – Kevin Fee
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for ignoring the nonsense and answering the question. I think any answer that doesn't discuss what a "pulsed magnetic device" might be is sorely lacking. $\endgroup$
    – jpmc26
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 22:45

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