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Different suits serve different purposes

Different suits serve different purposes

Space exploration includes two kinds of spacesuits:

  • One is worn inside a spacecraft during launch and ascent to space, during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere and during landing.
  • The other kind is designed specifically for spacewalks. NASA calls a spacewalk an Extra-Vehicular Activity or EVA, so this type of suit is called an EVA suit. It is a miniature spaceship shaped like a human body that protects from dangers such as radiation, dust, debris, and extreme temperatures.

The life support and communications system and helmet

  • Life support system. The backpack on the back of the spacesuit contains oxygen that astronauts breathe and that pressurizes the suit, a regulator to keep the correct pressure, a fan that circulates oxygen, electricity for the suit, a two-way radio, water for the cooling garment, and a pump that circulates the chilled water.
  • Communications system. New suits include an audio system inside the helmet.
  • Helmet. It serves as a pressure bubble and ventilation system and has a small foam block to scratch the nose. A protective visor on the outside works like sunglasses.

Layers of the spacesuit

The flexible parts of the suit are made from 16 layers of material that performs different functions.

  • The cooling garment makes up the first three layers.
  • The bladder layer is filled with gas to create proper body pressure and holds the oxygen for breathing.
  • The next layer holds the bladder layer.
  • The ripstop liner is a tear-resistant layer.
  • The subsequent layers act as insulation.
  • The outer layer reflects heat from the sunlight and is made of a fabric that blends three kinds of threads: One provides water resistance, one is made from bullet-proof vest material, the last is fire resistant.

The pressure garment

The spacewalk spacesuit consists of two main parts: The pressure garment and the life support system.

The primary parts of the pressure garment:

  • The cooling garment is made from stretchy spandex material and about 300 feet of water tubes woven into the clothing that covers the body except for the head, hands and feet.
  • Hard Upper Torso connects the inside of the suit with the portable life support system.
  • Heated gloves.
  • Lower Torso is made up of spacesuit pants, boots and the lower half of the waist closure.

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