Spacewalks can be notoriously taxing on the body - a multi-hour spacewalk is often compared to a marathon in how much the astronaut must exert to overcome the stiffness of the suit.

I remember reading that in a couple of instances, astronauts have even lost fingernails over the course of a spacewalk. I have been unable to find any reference to this on the internet, however.

Is this true? Have astronauts lost fingernails during particularly gruelling spacewalks?


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This source suggests that this is actually a relatively common occurrence: as of 2010 "22/232 astronauts with complete medical records had at least one fingernail delamination." An interview subject also suggests that at least some astronauts have purposefully removed fingernails prior to spacewalks, but no detail is given and the comment isn't substantiated. I couldn't find any specific accounts from a named astronaut, but based on the source (National Geographic) and the mention of specific studies I think this is definitely a real phenomenon.

EDIT: I decided to go and skim the article. Apparently 13 fingernail delaminations were reported in training (I assume in the NBL) from 2002 to 2004. Also the article does mention "at least one astronaut had his/her fingernails removed for EVA operations." This is a medical journal so I doubt they can name the astronaut or the setting.

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    – Ingolifs
    Mar 27, 2019 at 23:41

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