This summer at the Discovery Center in Colorado Springs, the Space Foundation is exploring the fascinating world of spacesuits. Here are five things about spacesuits that you may not know.
- They regulate body temperature. In space, without Earth’s protective atmosphere, astronauts are exposed to extreme heat and extreme cold. Temperatures can fluctuate from about minus 250 degrees to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- They are a life support system. Early astronauts wore pressurized suits to protect them while inside a spacecraft, but once we began walking on the Moon and working outside of spacecraft, astronauts needed a suit to shield them from additional dangers of space. The Apollo spacesuits carried water and oxygen, and some even provided a place for energy bars in the helmet.
- They can be all-inclusive. American astronauts wear the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) for spacewalks, which provides life support for more than eight hours. That is a long time to be confined inside a spacesuit, which is why they are coupled with a Maximum Absorbency Garment. The Maximum Absorbency Garment is essentially an adult diaper. Everyone has to go, after all.
- They are not light-weight. The suits worn by Apollo astronauts were lighter than those worn by Space Shuttle astronauts, but they were heavy enough that you would have to pay extra if you tried to check one in your baggage at the airport today. Apollo spacesuits weighed about 180 pounds, while the Shuttle suit, with life support system, was over 250 pounds!
- They are evolving. Like any piece of clothing, spacesuits change with the times. From the shiny silver Mercury spacesuits to the bulky Shuttle suits, spacesuits are designed for the mission. Whether that mission be a tourist visit to space in a fashionable souvenir spacesuit, or Mars colonist spacesuit that combines enhanced mobility with long-lasting life support, the design of a spacesuit speaks to its purpose.
Learn more about spacesuits and try your hand at designing one at the Space Foundation Discovery Center this summer as we Suit Up! Learn more about the Discovery Center programs by visiting .