Astronaut Icon: The Space Suit – The Apollo Program2 min read

With astronauts now needing protection against lunar terrain and temperatures as well as the flexibility to stoop and bend to pick up moon rocks, the Apollo suits brought a host of new challenges.

The A7L Apollo and Skylab space suit was designed and built by ILC Dover to be the primary space suit worn by NASA astronauts for Project Apollo, the three manned Skylab flights, and theApollo-Soyuz Test Project between 1968 and the termination of the Apollo program in 1975.

A single space suit was developed, but while the basic suit was worn during liftoff and for backup, add-ons were attached for moonwalking. Included were:

– 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,

– 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,

and

– A layer of white Teflon cloth (nonflammable).

Boots, gloves, a communications cap, and a clear plastic helmet were also included, and the suit’s oxygen and cooling water were supplied by the ship during liftoff. The add-ons for moonwalking consisted of protective overboots, rubber-tipped gloves, helmet filters/visors for sunlight protection, and a portable life-support backpack filled with oxygen, equipment for the removal of carbon dioxide, and cooling water. The suit and pack totalled 180 pounds (82 kg) on Earth but only 30 pounds (14 kg) on the Moon.

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The design of the early Apollo flight suits was used as inspiration for the brown flight suits of the early shuttle missions.

Read more: science.howstuffworks.com/space-suit3.htm

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