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An airlock is a point of entry aboard a starship or space station which allows ingress and egress into empty space or onto another vessel which has docked at the airlock. The function of an airlock is to create a buffer zone between two areas of differing atmospheric pressure, preventing massive loss of atmosphere in the main part of a vessel by rapid and violent decompression. For example, if someone in an environmental suit needed to exit a ship to preform a maintenance task in the vacuum of space, he or she would enter the airlock and seal it behind them. The atmosphere inside the airlock would be slowly vented out, making the pressure in the airlock equal to that of the outside environment.

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