What are the different flight suits astronauts wear?3 min read

Consider an astronaut who comes back from a mission without any tell-tale signs. Think of a suit that can protect him in temperatures as low as minus 250°F, and you come across a suit specifically designed for astronauts to withstand such low temperatures. At the same time, temperatures can go to the other extreme compelling designers to come up with specific suits capable of withstanding extreme fluctuations in temperature from the inside.

Outer space holds no oxygen and creates weightlessness with zero gravity. It is in these tough conditions that suits must support astronauts 63,000 feet away from the earth. Body fluids must remain in liquid state with adequate air pressure built up within the suit. There is a delicate balance between wearing a lightweight suit and one that is functional under extreme conditions

Testing The Real Suit

If you’re planning to go on a paid excursion to the moon, a spacesuit used by NASA astronauts comes handy. A space suit is essentially an airtight garment assembly known as PGA, often designed 11 layers thick to be worn within the spacecraft and outside it. The suit also includes specially designed boots to walk on low-gravity surfaces. You’ve probably seen a bloated figure walking gingerly across space in a simulated unit either live or on screen.

Imagine a suit that adds weight in space where it matters a great deal and allows the trained astronaut to move from one area to the other, and you’ll understand why a spacesuit is designed to hold air and create differential pressures between 3.7 and 3.9 PSI for a working system with the portable life support system. Testing the suit in simulated environment gives you a clear understanding of how it was designed to complete different functions without causing discomfort or harm to the astronaut within.

Launch And Entry Suits

These are specially designed for take-off and landing. They can also be worn within the spacecraft but not outside it. Even with stringent specifications, astronauts need a backup suit and another one for training purposes. Special equipment is designed creating partial pressure within the suit. A parachute and harness assembly is added to support the weight of the astronaut fully dressed with a helmet, communication assembly, and airtight chamber to prevent exposure to the hostile outside environment.

The suit is also fitted with oxygen units automatically loaded when low pressure is created within the cabin. Pressure can be at adjusted manually as well to suit individual needs, as a space shuttle returns to experience the gravitational pull.

Extravehicular Mobility Unit Spacesuit

The one-piece suit does not bother astronauts even on a spacewalk in real untested conditions. For example, the extravehicular mobility unit (EMU) spacesuit is more durable and can withstand extreme conditions outside the spacecraft. The suit offers more flexibility with many interchangeable parts added that could be individually replaced if found ineffective after specific number of uses.

The EMU holds the primary life-support system (PLSS), control model with display, and emergency life-support system in case the primary system breaks down.

Better lightweight materials are being designed all the time to support astronauts bending, twisting around the torso, and leaning to complete various tasks. All spacesuits are cleared for use before departure making it a versatile and durable suit astronauts feel safe to wear.

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