What You Need to Know About the Surprising Evolution of Space Suits


Humanity has been striving to discover the secrets of space since ancient civilizations. Over the centuries, telescopes and spacecraft have made significant contributions to this endeavor. However, there is something much more important to truly discover the secrets of infinite space. Space suits!

Today, humanity can make very interesting and useful observations of space with state-of-the-art telescopes. But it is much more exciting for a human being to be physically present in space. This is where space suits come into play. Because space is not suitable for human life under normal conditions. It is even extremely dangerous and deadly! For this reason, spacesuits have many features.

Evolution of spacesuits 1

Evolution of spacesuits 1

A useful spacesuit must be resistant to many external factors in space, from temperature to pressure. It must also be designed so that astronauts can easily mobilize and communicate with Earth. On the other hand, spacesuits with the slightest design flaw can cause astronauts to die in horrible ways! It has been more than 60 years since the first human being went into space. Thanks to advances in technology, space suits have also improved dramatically. So much so that spacesuits are now being developed that are suitable not only for outer space but also for living conditions on various planets. In other words, spacesuits continue to be one of the most important helpers in humanity’s space adventure. Here is the surprising evolution of spacesuits…

The first spacesuits were based on pilot suits

The United States carried out a space program called Project Mercury between 1958 and 1963. The space suits designed under this program were used by 6 astronauts during a space flight. However, these suits were basically based on the suits of airplane pilots in the United States Navy. These early spacesuits were lined with neoprene and nylon on the inside and aluminized nylon on the outside. The suits, which were extremely primitive compared to today’s spacesuits, ensured that the temperature inside the suit remained as constant as possible. It was also designed to adapt to sudden pressure changes. However, the spacesuits developed under this project were far from helping humanity dominate space.

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Evolution of spacesuits1 (John Glenn wearing his Mercury space suit)

Project Gemini played an important role in the evolution of spacesuits.

This space project by the United States was unprecedented in scale. A large number of new spacecraft and different instruments were developed for the project, as well as new spacesuits. Between 1965 and 1966, 10 American astronauts made a flight in Earth orbit. The first spacewalk was also made possible by this project! One of the most important elements of the success of this groundbreaking project was undoubtedly the new spacesuits. The spacesuits used in Project Mercury were not suitable for the movement of astronauts. Therefore, the new suits had to be more flexible.

The US revised the suits it produced in its first space project. The new suits were more flexible. They were also fitted with a portable air conditioner. On the other hand, safety measures were increased with a 30-minute life support unit! Thus, thanks to the new spacesuits, a human being was able to walk in the vacuum of space for the first time. However, these new suits also had many shortcomings. Astronauts using these new suits reported a sudden rise in body temperature. This caused extreme fatigue. The suit was also heavily humidified, even though it was air-conditioned. This caused the astronauts’ helmets to fog up and the astronauts had problems seeing. Finally, these suits were not light enough.

Better suits were needed to go deeper into space!

The new goal was to land a man on the Moon. However, it was not possible to walk on the Moon with the suits developed for the two previous space programs. The US succeeded in sending astronauts to the Moon with Project Apollo, which ran between 1961 and 1975. First of all, the newly designed suits were much more flexible than the old ones. Thus, the astronauts were able to actually walk on the Moon! In addition, boots were produced to suit the rocky structure of the lunar surface. More technological life support units and more resistant to external factors were used. A new cooling system was developed to maintain the astronauts’ body temperature. These spacesuits allowed mankind to take a big step forward and walk on the Moon. But they were still not good enough. So astronauts needed hoses attached to their spacecraft. So they couldn’t get too far away from their spacecraft, they couldn’t go further to explore the mysteries of space.

It was only in 1984 that it became possible to travel completely free in space

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Evolution of spacesuits2 (Buzz Aldrin salutes the deployed United States flag on the lunar surface)

A jetpack-like device called the Manned Maneuvering Unit, used by astronaut Bruce McCandless, allowed a man to float freely in space without being attached to any structure.

Parachutes added to space suits due to the Challenger disaster

In 1986, in a terrible accident, the space shuttle caught fire shortly after take-off. The subsequent explosion killed the astronauts on board. Because of this terrible event, it became clear that new safety measures were needed in space programs. It was also after this terrible event that parachutes were incorporated into space suits. Also, many new safety features were added to the suits. These suits, which have a high level of safety measures, weigh about 43 kg.

Future spacesuits will allow astronauts to travel to different planets

Humanity is working hard to explore the mysteries of space! But as this effort deepens, new discoveries and new discoveries bring new challenges! The exploration of new places in space, uninhabited planets, requires spacesuits that are much more functional and durable than the current ones. For this reason, the evolution of space suits has been and will continue to move forward at a great pace.

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Evolution of spacesuits3 (The crew of Expedition 7, Commander Yuri Malenchenko (front) and Ed Lu are both wearing Sokol KV2 pressure suits)

Images Credit: NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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