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The Space Suit

Spacesuits have developed over many years from the early prototypes used in the Mercury space missions to the complex and highly technological suit worn by today’s Space Shuttle and Space Station astronauts. The following text illustrates the development of the spacesuit.

  The Spacesuit worn by Neil Armstrong. William Anders suits was very similar.

Why do Astronauts Need Space Suits?

You would become unconscious within 15 seconds because there is no oxygen.
Your blood and body fluids would "boil" and then freeze because there is little or no air pressure.
Your skin, heart and other internal organs would expand because of the boiling fluids.
You would face extreme changes in temperature:
sunlight: 248 degrees Fahrenheit / 120 degrees Celsius
shade: -148 F / -100 C
You would be exposed to various types of radiation, such as cosmic rays, and charged particles emitted from the sun (solar wind).

The Mercury Space suit was one of the first spacesuits.

The Mercury Spacesuit

The Mercury suit was worn “soft” or un-pressurized and served only as a backup for possible spacecraft cabin pressure loss — an event that never happened. Limited pressurized mobility would not have been a problem in the small Mercury spacecraft cabin.  

The Mercury spacesuit also had laced boots, a helmet that attached via a collar ring, and gloves. The suit was cooled with an external fan unit that the astronaut carried. The astronaut received oxygen from the spacecraft via hoses connected to the suit. Again, the suit was only pressurized in the event that the cabin pressure failed.

This suit would not be good enough for journeys to the moon and even less suited to a moon walk. A new suit had to be designed for the Apollo Missions.


The Apollo Suit.

The Apollo suit consisted of the following:

A water-cooled nylon undergarment

A multi-layered pressure suit

inside layer - lightweight nylon with fabric vents

middle layer - neoprene-coated nylon to hold pressure

outer layer - nylon to restrain the pressurized layers beneath

Five layers of aluminized Mylar interwoven with four layers of Dacron for heat protection

Two layers of Kapton for additional heat protection

A layer of Teflon-coated cloth (nonflammable) for protection from scrapes

A layer of white Teflon cloth (nonflammable)


The suit had boots, gloves, a communications cap and a clear plastic helmet. During liftoff, the suit's oxygen and cooling water were supplied by the ship.

Look at the picture below it shows all the part that go to make up an Apollo Spacesuit.

All photo's on the page courtesy of NASA

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