How are spacesuits made and some interesting facts about them
Space exploration for humanity is impossible without spacesuits. They are more than just clothes and serve different purposes. While some are worn when inside a spacecraft, others have been designed especially for spacewalks. These suits can have up to 16 layers and are capable of withstanding extreme temperatures. Let us have a look at a spacesuit's components and the purposes they serve.
Why does this story matter?
- While spacewalking, astronauts face extreme temperatures, dust, radiation, as well as debris. The spacesuits help them survive such harsh conditions.
- Such suits have multiple layers of material, each serving its own separate function. Manufacturing them is a cumbersome process, which is justifiable considering the challenges faced in designing them.
- The spacesuits for the Artemis missions will certainly require a bit of tinkering.
Suits used for spacewalks have 2 sections
Spacesuits used for spacewalks have two main sections: the pressure garment and the life support system. The former is human-shaped and protects the astronaut's body. It also ensures mobility. Its main components are the cooling garment, upper torso, lower torso, and helmet. Meanwhile, the life support system offers oxygen for breathing and water for cooling the suit.
What do the cooling garment and hard upper torso do?
The cooling garment is made of stretchy spandex and water tubes. This clothing covers the entire body except for the head, hands, and feet. Chilled water flowing through the tubes regulates body temperature and removes extra heat during a spacewalk. Meanwhile, the lightweight hard upper torso connects the inside of the suit with the life support system. It is shaped like a sleeveless shirt.
What does the lower torso comprise?
The suit's lower section comprises the lower half of the waist closure, pants, and boots. The waist closure connects the lower torso to the hard upper torso, meanwhile, the waist bearing helps in moving and turning. In the new suits used for lunar surface missions, astronauts will be able to bend their knees and walk on the surface instead of hopping.
The life support system holds oxygen and water
The life support system looks like a backpack. It contains oxygen for breathing and pressurizing the suit. There is a regulator for maintaining the suit pressure and a fan for oxygen circulation. It also packs a two-way radio for communication. Water for the cooling garment, a chiller to cool the water, and a pump to circulate the water, are also available.
What's so special about the helmets?
Helmets for spacewalks are made of strong plastic and keep the pressure of the suit contained. They pack a ventilation system for providing astronauts with oxygen. On the front, there is a protective visor, with a movable sun visor and shades on top. The sun visor is gold-coated and serves as a sunglass. Together, the trio protects astronauts from the sun's rays.
What about communication?
Suits for spacewalks have a communications cap worn under the helmet. They contain earphones and microphones. The caps connect to the suit's radio and allow astronauts to talk to their fellow crew as well as mission control. The caps are also referred to as Snoopy caps as they resemble the aviator cap worn by the famous cartoon character.