Space suit

A space suit or spacesuit is a garment worn to keep a human alive in the harsh environment of outer space, vacuum and temperature extremes. Space suits are often worn inside spacecraft as a safety precaution in case of loss of cabin pressure, and are necessary for extravehicular activity (EVA), work done outside spacecraft. Space suits have been worn for such work in Earth orbit, on the surface of the Moon, and en route back to Earth from the Moon. Modern space suits augment the basic pressure garment with a complex system of equipment and environmental systems designed to keep the wearer comfortable, and to minimize the effort required to bend the limbs, resisting a soft pressure garment's natural tendency to stiffen against the vacuum. A self-contained oxygen supply and environmental control system is frequently employed to allow complete freedom of movement, independent of the spacecraft.

Three types of space suits exist for different purposes: IVA (intravehicular activity), EVA (extravehicular activity), and IEVA (intra/extravehicular activity). IVA suits are meant to be worn inside a pressurized spacecraft, and are therefore lighter and more comfortable. IEVA suits are meant for use inside and outside the spacecraft, such as the Gemini G4C suit. They include more protection from the harsh conditions of space, such as protection from micrometeoroids and extreme temperature change. EVA suits, such as the EMU, are used outside spacecraft, for either planetary exploration or spacewalks. They must protect the wearer against all conditions of space, as well as provide mobility and functionality.[1]

Some of these requirements also apply to pressure suits worn for other specialized tasks, such as high-altitude reconnaissance flight. At altitudes above the Armstrong limit, around 19,000 m (62,000 ft), water boils at body temperature and pressurized suits are needed.

The first full-pressure suits for use at extreme altitudes were designed by individual inventors as early as the 1930s. The first space suit worn by a human in space was the Soviet SK-1 suit worn by Yuri Gagarin in 1961.


Space suits being used to work on the International Space Station.

A space suit must perform several functions to allow its occupant to work safely and comfortably, inside or outside a spacecraft. It must provide:

  • A stable internal pressure. This can be less than Earth's atmosphere, as there is usually no need for the space suit to carry nitrogen (which comprises about 78% of Earth's atmosphere and is not used by the body). Lower pressure allows for greater mobility, but requires the suit occupant to breathe pure oxygen for a time before going into this lower pressure, to avoid decompression sickness.
  • Mobility. Movement is typically opposed by the pressure of the suit; mobility is achieved by careful joint design. See the Theories of space suit design section.
  • Supply of breathable oxygen and elimination of carbon dioxide; these gases are exchanged with the spacecraft or a Portable Life Support System (PLSS)
  • Temperature regulation. Unlike on Earth, where heat can be transferred by convection to the atmosphere, in space, heat can be lost only by thermal radiation or by conduction to objects in physical contact with the exterior of the suit. Since the temperature on the outside of the suit varies greatly between sunlight and shadow, the suit is heavily insulated, and air temperature is maintained at a comfortable level.
  • A communication system, with external electrical connection to the spacecraft or PLSS
  • Means of collecting and containing solid and liquid bodily waste (such as a Maximum Absorbency Garment)

Secondary requirements

From left to right, Margaret R. (Rhea) Seddon, Kathryn D. Sullivan, Judith A. Resnick, Sally K. Ride, Anna L. Fisher, and Shannon W. Lucid—The first six female astronauts of the United States stand with a Personal Rescue Enclosure, a spherical life support ball for emergency transfer of people in space

Advanced suits better regulate the astronaut's temperature with a Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment (LCVG) in contact with the astronaut's skin, from which the heat is dumped into space through an external radiator in the PLSS.

Additional requirements for EVA include:

  • Shielding against ultraviolet radiation
  • Limited shielding against particle radiation
  • Means to maneuver, dock, release, and tether onto a spacecraft
  • Protection against small micrometeoroids, some traveling at up to 27,000 kilometers per hour, provided by a puncture-resistant Thermal Micrometeoroid Garment, which is the outermost layer of the suit. Experience has shown the greatest chance of exposure occurs near the gravitational field of a moon or planet, so these were first employed on the Apollo lunar EVA suits (see United States suit models below).

As part of astronautical hygiene control (i.e., protecting astronauts from extremes of temperature, radiation, etc.), a space suit is essential for extravehicular activity. The Apollo/Skylab A7L suit included eleven layers in all: an inner liner, a LCVG, a pressure bladder, a restraint layer, another liner, and a Thermal Micrometeoroid Garment consisting of five aluminized insulation layers and an external layer of white Ortho-Fabric. This space suit is capable of protecting the astronaut from temperatures ranging from −156 °C (−249 °F) to 121 °C (250 °F).

During exploration of the Moon or Mars, there will be the potential for lunar or Martian dust to be retained on the space suit. When the space suit is removed on return to the spacecraft, there will be the potential for the dust to contaminate surfaces and increase the risks of inhalation and skin exposure. Astronautical hygienists are testing materials with reduced dust retention times and the potential to control the dust exposure risks during planetary exploration. Novel ingress and egress approaches, such as suitports, are being explored as well.

In NASA space suits, communications are provided via a cap worn over the head, which includes earphones and a microphone. Due to the coloration of the version used for Apollo and Skylab, which resembled the coloration of the comic strip character Snoopy, these caps became known as "Snoopy caps".

Operating pressure

Astronaut Steven G. MacLean pre-breathes prior to an EVA

Generally, to supply enough oxygen for respiration, a space suit using pure oxygen must have a pressure of about 32.4 kPa (240 Torr; 4.7 psi), equal to the 20.7 kPa (160 Torr; 3.0 psi) partial pressure of oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere at sea level, plus 5.3 kPa (40 Torr; 0.77 psi) CO
and 6.3 kPa (47 Torr; 0.91 psi) water vapor pressure, both of which must be subtracted from the alveolar pressure to get alveolar oxygen partial pressure in 100% oxygen atmospheres, by the alveolar gas equation.[2] The latter two figures add to 11.6 kPa (87 Torr; 1.7 psi), which is why many modern space suits do not use 20.7 kPa (160 Torr; 3.0 psi), but 32.4 kPa (240 Torr; 4.7 psi) (this is a slight overcorrection, as alveolar partial pressures at sea level are slightly less than the former). In space suits that use 20.7 kPa, the astronaut gets only 20.7 kPa − 11.6 kPa = 9.1 kPa (68 Torr; 1.3 psi) of oxygen, which is about the alveolar oxygen partial pressure attained at an altitude of 1,860 m (6,100 ft) above sea level. This is about 42% of normal partial pressure of oxygen at sea level, about the same as pressure in a commercial passenger jet aircraft, and is the realistic lower limit for safe ordinary space suit pressurization which allows reasonable capacity for work.

When space suits below a specific operating pressure are used from craft that are pressurized to normal atmospheric pressure (such as the Space Shuttle), this requires astronauts to "pre-breathe" (meaning pre-breathe pure oxygen for a period) before donning their suits and depressurizing in the air lock. This procedure purges the body of dissolved nitrogen, so as to avoid decompression sickness due to rapid depressurization from a nitrogen-containing atmosphere.

Physical effects of unprotected space exposure

The human body can briefly survive the hard vacuum of space unprotected,[3] despite contrary depictions in some popular science fiction. Human flesh expands to about twice its size in such conditions, giving the visual effect of a body builder rather than an overfilled balloon. Consciousness is retained for up to 15 seconds as the effects of oxygen starvation set in. No snap freeze effect occurs because all heat must be lost through thermal radiation or the evaporation of liquids, and the blood does not boil because it remains pressurized within the body.

In space, there are many different highly energized subatomic protons that will expose the body to extreme radiation. Although these compounds are minimal in amount, their high energy is liable to disrupt essential physical and chemical processes in the body, such as altering DNA or causing cancers. Exposure to radiation can create problems via two methods: the particles can react with water in the human body to produce free radicals that break DNA molecules apart, or by directly breaking the DNA molecules.[1][4]

Temperature in space can vary extremely depending on where the Sun is. Temperatures from solar radiation can reach up to 250 °F (121 °C) and lower down to −387 °F (−233 °C). Because of this, space suits must provide proper insulation and cooling.[1]

The vacuum in space creates zero pressure, causing the gases and processes in the body to expand. In order to prevent chemical processes in the body from overreacting, it is necessary to develop a suit that counteracts against the pressure in space.[1][5] The greatest danger is in attempting to hold one's breath before exposure, as the subsequent explosive decompression can damage the lungs. These effects have been confirmed through various accidents (including in very-high-altitude conditions, outer space and training vacuum chambers).[3][6] Human skin does not need to be protected from vacuum and is gas-tight by itself. Instead, it only needs to be mechanically compressed to retain its normal shape. This can be accomplished with a tight-fitting elastic body suit and a helmet for containing breathing gases, known as a space activity suit (SAS).

Design concepts

A space suit should allow its user natural unencumbered movement. Nearly all designs try to maintain a constant volume no matter what movements the wearer makes. This is because mechanical work is needed to change the volume of a constant pressure system. If flexing a joint reduces the volume of the space suit, then the astronaut must do extra work every time they bend that joint, and they have to maintain a force to keep the joint bent. Even if this force is very small, it can be seriously fatiguing to constantly fight against one's suit. It also makes delicate movements very difficult. The work required to bend a joint is dictated by the formula

where Vi and Vf are respectively the initial and final volume of the joint, P is the pressure in the suit, and W is the resultant work. It is generally true that all suits are more mobile at lower pressures. However, because a minimum internal pressure is dictated by life support requirements, the only means of further reducing work is to minimize the change in volume.

All space suit designs try to minimize or eliminate this problem. The most common solution is to form the suit out of multiple layers. The bladder layer is a rubbery, airtight layer much like a balloon. The restraint layer goes outside the bladder, and provides a specific shape for the suit. Since the bladder layer is larger than the restraint layer, the restraint takes all of the stresses caused by the pressure inside the suit. Since the bladder is not under pressure, it will not "pop" like a balloon, even if punctured. The restraint layer is shaped in such a way that bending a joint causes pockets of fabric, called "gores", to open up on the outside of the joint, while folds called "convolutes" fold up on the inside of the joint. The gores make up for the volume lost on the inside of the joint, and keep the suit at a nearly constant volume. However, once the gores are opened all the way, the joint cannot be bent any further without a considerable amount of work.

In some Russian space suits, strips of cloth were wrapped tightly around the cosmonaut's arms and legs outside the space suit to stop the space suit from ballooning when in space.

The outermost layer of a space suit, the Thermal Micrometeoroid Garment, provides thermal insulation, protection from micrometeoroids, and shielding from harmful solar radiation.

There are four main conceptual approaches to suit design:

NASA's experimental AX-5 hard-shell space suit (1988)

Soft suits

Soft suits typically are made mostly of fabrics. All soft suits have some hard parts; some even have hard joint bearings. Intra-vehicular activity and early EVA suits were soft suits.

Hard-shell suits

Hard-shell suits are usually made of metal or composite materials and do not use fabric for joints. Hard suits joints use ball bearings and wedge-ring segments similar to an adjustable elbow of a stove pipe to allow a wide range of movement with the arms and legs. The joints maintain a constant volume of air internally and do not have any counter-force. Therefore, the astronaut does not need to exert to hold the suit in any position. Hard suits can also operate at higher pressures which would eliminate the need for an astronaut to pre-breathe oxygen to use a 34 kPa (4.9 psi) space suit before an EVA from a 101 kPa (14.6 psi) spacecraft cabin. The joints may get into a restricted or locked position requiring the astronaut to manipulate or program the joint. The NASA Ames Research Center experimental AX-5 hard-shell space suit had a flexibility rating of 95%. The wearer could move into 95% of the positions they could without the suit on.

Hybrid suits

Hybrid suits have hard-shell parts and fabric parts. NASA's Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) uses a fiberglass Hard Upper Torso (HUT) and fabric limbs. ILC Dover's I-Suit replaces the HUT with a fabric soft upper torso to save weight, restricting the use of hard components to the joint bearings, helmet, waist seal, and rear entry hatch. Virtually all workable space suit designs incorporate hard components, particularly at interfaces such as the waist seal, bearings, and in the case of rear-entry suits, the back hatch, where all-soft alternatives are not viable.

Skintight suits

Skintight suits, also known as mechanical counterpressure suits or space activity suits, are a proposed design which would use a heavy elastic body stocking to compress the body. The head is in a pressurized helmet, but the rest of the body is pressurized only by the elastic effect of the suit. This mitigates the constant volume problem, reduces the possibility of a space suit depressurization and gives a very lightweight suit. When not worn, the elastic garments may appear to be that of clothing for a small child. These suits may be very difficult to put on and face problems with providing a uniform pressure. Most proposals use the body's natural perspiration to keep cool. Sweat evaporates readily in vacuum and may desublime or deposit on objects nearby: optics, sensors, the astronaut's visor, and other surfaces. The icy film and sweat residue may contaminate sensitive surfaces and affect optical performance.

Contributing technologies

Related preceding technologies include the gas mask used in World War II, the oxygen mask used by pilots of high-flying bombers in World War II, the high-altitude or vacuum suit required by pilots of the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird, the diving suit, rebreather, scuba diving gear, and many others.

Many space suit designs are taken from the U.S. Air Force suits, which are designed to work in "high-altitude aircraft pressure[s]",[1] such as the Mercury IVA suit or the Gemini G4C, or the Advanced Crew Escape Suits.[7]

Glove technology

The Mercury IVA, the first U.S. space suit design, included lights at the tips of the gloves in order to provide visual aid. As the need for extravehicular activity grew, suits such as the Apollo A7L included gloves made of a metal fabric called Chromel-r in order to prevent punctures. In order to retain a better sense of touch for the astronauts, the fingertips of the gloves were made of silicone. With the shuttle program, it became necessary to be able to operate spacecraft modules, so the ACES suits featured gripping on the gloves. EMU gloves, which are used for spacewalks, are heated to keep the astronaut's hands warm. The Phase VI gloves, meant for use with the Mark III suit, are the first gloves to be designed with "laser scanning technology, 3D computer modeling, stereo lithography, laser cutting technology and CNC machining".[NASA, ILC Dover Inc. 1] This allows for cheaper, more accurate production, as well as increased detail in joint mobility and flexibility.

Life support technology

Prior to the Apollo missions, life support in space suits was connected to the space capsule via an umbilical cord-like device. However, with the Apollo missions, life support was configured into a removable capsule called the Portable Life Support System that allowed the astronaut to explore the Moon without having to be attached to the space craft. The EMU space suit, used for spacewalks, allows the astronaut to manually control the internal environment of the suit. The Mark III suit has a backpack filled with about 12 pounds of liquid air, as well as pressurization and heat exchange.[7]

Helmet technology

The development of the spheroidal dome helmet was key in balancing the need for field of view, pressure compensation, and low weight. One inconvenience with some space suits is the head being fixed facing forwards and being unable to turn to look sideways. Astronauts call this effect "alligator head".

High-altitude suits

Pressurised suit prototype designed by military engineer Emilio Herrera for a stratospheric balloon flight. c.1935
  • Evgeniy Chertovsky created his full-pressure suit or high-altitude "skafandr" (скафандр) in 1931. (скафандр also means "diving apparatus").
  • Emilio Herrera designed and built a full-pressure "stratonautical space suit" in 1935, which was to have been used during an open-basket balloon stratospheric flight scheduled for early 1936.[8]
  • Wiley Post experimented with a number of pressure suits for record-breaking flights.
  • Russell Colley created the space suits worn by the Project Mercury astronauts, including fitting Alan Shepard for his ride as America's first man in space on May 5, 1961.

List of space suit models

Soviet and Russian suit models

  • SK series (CK) – the spacesuit used for the Vostok program (1961–1963). Worn by Yuri Gagarin on the first crewed space flight.
  • No pressure suits were worn aboard Voskhod 1.
  • Berkut (Беркут meaning "golden eagle") – the spacesuit was a modified SK-1 used by the crew of Voskhod 2 which included Alexei Leonov on the first spacewalk during (1965).
  • From Soyuz 1 to Soyuz 11 (1967–1971) no pressure suits were worn during launch and reentry.
  • Yastreb (Ястреб meaning "hawk") – extravehicular activity spacesuit used during a crew exchange between Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 (1969).
  • Krechet-94 (Кречет meaning "gyrfalcon") – designed for the canceled Soviet crewed Moon landing.
  • Strizh (Стриж meaning "swift (bird)") – developed for pilots of Buran-class orbiters.
  • Sokol (Сокол meaning "falcon") – suits worn by Soyuz crew members during launch and reentry. They were first worn on Soyuz 12. They have been used from 1973 to present.
  • Orlan (Орлан meaning "sea-eagle" or "bald eagle") – suits for extravehicular activity, originally developed for the Soviet lunar program as a lunar orbit EVA suit. It is Russia's current EVA suit. Used from 1977 to present.

United States suit models

  • In the early 1950s, Siegfried Hansen and colleagues at Litton Industries designed and built a working hard-shell suit, which was used inside vacuum chambers and was the predecessor of space suits used in NASA missions.[9]
  • Navy Mark IV high-altitude/vacuum suit – used for Project Mercury (1961–1963).
  • Gemini space suits (1965–1966) – there were three main variants developed: G3C designed for intra-vehicle use; G4C specially designed for EVA and intra-vehicle use; and a special G5C suit worn by the Gemini 7 crew for 14 days inside the spacecraft.
  • Manned Orbiting Laboratory MH-7 space suits for the canceled MOL program.
  • Apollo Block I A1C suit (1966–1967) – a derivative of the Gemini suit, worn by primary and backup crews in training for two early Apollo missions. The nylon pressure garment melted and burned through in the Apollo 1 cabin fire. This suit became obsolete when crewed Block I Apollo flights were discontinued after the fire.
  • Apollo/Skylab A7L EVA and Moon suits – The Block II Apollo suit was the primary pressure suit worn for eleven Apollo flights, three Skylab flights, and the US astronauts on the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project between 1968 and 1975. The pressure garment's nylon outer layer was replaced with fireproof Beta cloth after the Apollo 1 fire. This suit was the first to employ a liquid-cooled inner garment and outer micrometeroid garment. Beginning with the Apollo 13 mission, it also introduced "commander's stripes" so that a pair of space walkers will not appear identical on camera.[10]
  • Shuttle Ejection Escape Suit – used from STS-1 (1981) to STS-4 (1982) by a two-man crew used in conjunction with the then-installed ejection seats. Derived from a USAF model.[11] These were removed once the Shuttle became certified.
  • From STS-5 (1982) to STS-51-L (1986) no pressure suits were worn during launch and reentry. The crew would wear only a blue-flight suit with an oxygen helmet.
  • Launch Entry Suit first used on STS-26 (1988), the first flight after the Challenger disaster. It was a partial pressure suit derived from a USAF model.[12] It was used from 1988 to 1998.
  • Advanced Crew Escape Suit used on the Space Shuttle starting in 1994.[13] The Advanced Crew Escape Suit or ACES suit, is a full-pressure suit worn by all Space Shuttle crews for the ascent and entry portions of flight. The suit is a direct descendant of the United States Air Force high-altitude pressure suits worn by SR-71 Blackbird and U-2 spy plane pilots, North American X-15 and Gemini pilot-astronauts, and the Launch Entry Suits worn by NASA astronauts starting on the STS-26 flight. It is derived from a USAF model.
  • Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) – used on both the Space Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS). The EMU is an independent anthropomorphic system that provides environmental protection, mobility, life support, and communications for a Space Shuttle or ISS crew member to perform an EVA in Earth orbit. Used from 1982 to present, but only available in limited sizing as of 2019.[14]
  • Aerospace company SpaceX developed an IVA suit which is worn by astronauts involved in Commercial Crew Program missions operated by SpaceX since the Demo-2 mission (see #SpaceX suit ("Starman suit")).
  • Orion Crew Survival System (OCSS) – will be used during launch and re-entry on the Orion MPCV. It is derived from the Advanced Crew Escape Suit but is able to operate at a higher pressure and has improved mobility in the shoulders.[15]

SpaceX suit ("Starman suit")

In February 2015, SpaceX began developing a space suit for astronauts to wear within the Dragon 2 space capsule.[16] Its appearance was jointly designed by Jose Fernandez—a Hollywood costume designer known for his works for superhero and science fiction films—and SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk.[17][18] The first images of the suit were revealed in September 2017.[19] A mannequin, called "Starman" (after David Bowie's song of the same name), wore the SpaceX space suit during the maiden launch of the Falcon Heavy in February 2018.[20][21] For this exhibition launch, the suit was not pressurized and carried no sensors.[22]

The suit, which is suitable for vacuum, offers protection against cabin depressurization through a single tether at the astronaut's thigh that feeds air and electronic connections. The helmets, which are 3D-printed, contain microphones and speakers. As the suits need the tether connection and do not offer protection against radiation, they are not used for extra-vehicular activities.[23]

In 2018, NASA commercial crew astronauts Bob Behnken, and Doug Hurley tested the spacesuit inside the Dragon 2 spacecraft in order to familiarize themselves with the suit.[24] They wore it in the Crew Dragon Demo-2 flight launched on 30 May 2020.[21] The suit is worn by astronauts involved in Commercial Crew Program missions involving SpaceX.

Chinese suit models

  • Shuguang space suit: First generation EVA space suit developed by China for the 1967 canceled Project 714 crewed space program. It has a mass of about 10 kilograms (20 lb), has an orange colour, and is made of high-resistance multi-layer polyester fabric. The astronaut could use it inside the cabin and conduct an EVA as well.[25][26][27]
  • 'Project 863 space suit: Cancelled project of second generation Chinese EVA space suit.[28]
  • Shenzhou IVA (神舟) space suit: The suit was first worn by Yang Liwei on Shenzhou 5, the first crewed Chinese space flight, it closely resembles a Sokol-KV2 suit, but it is believed to be a Chinese-made version rather than an actual Russian suit.[29][30] Pictures show that the suits on Shenzhou 6 differ in detail from the earlier suit; they are also reported to be lighter.[31]
  • Haiying (海鹰号航天服) EVA space suit: The imported Russian Orlan-M EVA suit is called Haiying. Used on Shenzhou 7.
  • Feitian (飞天号航天服) EVA space suit: New generation indigenously developed Chinese-made EVA space suit also used for the Shenzhou 7 mission.[32] The suit was designed for a spacewalk mission of up to seven hours.[33] Chinese astronauts have been training in the out-of-capsule space suits since July 2007, and movements are seriously restricted in the suits, with a mass of more than 110 kilograms (240 lb) each.[34]

Emerging technologies

Several companies and universities are developing technologies and prototypes which represent improvements over current space suits.

Additive manufacturing

3D printing (additive manufacturing) can be used to reduce the mass of hard-shell space suits while retaining the high mobility they provide. This fabrication method also allows for the potential for in-situ fabrication and repair of suits, a capability which is not currently available, but will likely be necessary for Martian exploration.[35] The University of Maryland began development of a prototype 3D printed hard suit in 2016, based on the kinematics of the AX-5. The prototype arm segment is designed to be evaluated in the Space Systems Laboratory glovebox to compare mobility to traditional soft suits. Initial research has focused on the feasibility of printing rigid suit elements, bearing races, ball bearings, seals, and sealing surfaces.[36]

Astronaut Glove Challenge

There are certain difficulties in designing a dexterous space suit glove and there are limitations to the current designs. For this reason, the Centennial Astronaut Glove Challenge was created to build a better glove. Competitions have been held in 2007 and 2009, and another is planned. The 2009 contest required the glove to be covered with a micro-meteorite layer.



Since 2009, the Austrian Space Forum[37] has been developing "Aouda.X", an experimental Mars analogue space suit focusing on an advanced human–machine interface and on-board computing network to increase situational awareness. The suit is designed to study contamination vectors in planetary exploration analogue environments and create limitations depending on the pressure regime chosen for a simulation.

Since 2012, for the Mars2013 analogue mission[38] by the Austrian Space Forum to Erfoud, Morocco, the Aouda.X analogue space suit has a sister in the form of Aouda.S.[39] This is a slightly less sophisticated suit meant primarily to assist Aouda.X operations and be able to study the interactions between two (analogue) astronauts in similar suits.

The Aouda.X and Aouda.S space suits have been named after the fictional princess from the Jules Verne's 1873 novel Around the World in Eighty Days. A public display mock-up of Aouda.X (called Aouda.D) is currently on display at the Dachstein Ice Cave in Obertraun, Austria, after the experiments done there in 2012.[40]


Bio-Suit is a space activity suit under development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which as of 2006 consisted of several lower leg prototypes. Bio-suit is custom fit to each wearer, using laser body scanning.

Constellation Space Suit system

On August 2, 2006, NASA indicated plans to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the design, development, certification, production, and sustaining engineering of the Constellation Space Suit to meet the needs of the Constellation Program.[41] NASA foresaw a single suit capable of supporting: survivability during launch, entry and abort; zero-gravity EVA; lunar surface EVA; and Mars surface EVA.

On June 11, 2008, NASA awarded a US$745 million contract to Oceaneering International to create the new space suit.[42]

Final Frontier Design IVA Space Suit

Final Frontier Design IVA Space Suit

Final Frontier Design (FFD) is developing a commercial full IVA space suit, with their first suit completed in 2010.[43] FFD's suits are intended as a light-weight, highly mobile, and inexpensive commercial space suits. Since 2011, FFD has upgraded IVA suit's designs, hardware, processes, and capabilities. FFD has built a total of 7 IVA space suit (2016) assemblies for various institutions and customers since founding, and has conducted high fidelity human testing in simulators, aircraft, microgravity, and hypobaric chambers. FFD has a Space Act Agreement with NASA's Commercial Space Capabilities Office to develop and execute a Human Rating Plan for FFD IVA suit.[44] FFD categorizes their IVA suits according to their mission: Terra for Earth-based testing, Stratos for high altitude flights, and Exos for orbital space flights. Each suit category has different requirements for manufacturing controls, validations, and materials, but are of a similar architecture.


The I-Suit is a space suit prototype also constructed by ILC Dover, which incorporates several design improvements over the EMU, including a weight-saving soft upper torso. Both the Mark III and the I-Suit have taken part in NASA's annual Desert Research and Technology Studies (D-RATS) field trials, during which suit occupants interact with one another, and with rovers and other equipment.

Mark III

The Mark III is a NASA prototype, constructed by ILC Dover, which incorporates a hard lower torso section and a mix of soft and hard components. The Mark III is markedly more mobile than previous suits, despite its high operating pressure (57 kPa or 8.3 psi), which makes it a "zero-prebreathe" suit, meaning that astronauts would be able to transition directly from a one-atmosphere, mixed-gas space station environment, such as that on the International Space Station, to the suit, without risking decompression sickness, which can occur with rapid depressurization from an atmosphere containing nitrogen or another inert gas.


The MX-2 is a space suit analogue constructed at the University of Maryland's Space Systems Laboratory. The MX-2 is used for crewed neutral buoyancy testing at the Space Systems Lab's Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility. By approximating the work envelope of a real EVA suit, without meeting the requirements of a flight-rated suit, the MX-2 provides an inexpensive platform for EVA research, compared to using EMU suits at facilities like NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.

The MX-2 has an operating pressure of 2.5–4 psi. It is a rear-entry suit, featuring a fiberglass HUT. Air, LCVG cooling water, and power are open loop systems, provided through an umbilical. The suit contains a Mac Mini computer to capture sensor data, such as suit pressure, inlet and outlet air temperatures, and heart rate.[45] Resizable suit elements and adjustable ballast allow the suit to accommodate subjects ranging in height from 68 to 75 inches (170–190 cm), and with a weight range of 120 lb (54 kg).[46]

North Dakota suit

Beginning in May 2006, five North Dakota colleges collaborated on a new space suit prototype, funded by a US$100,000 grant from NASA, to demonstrate technologies which could be incorporated into a planetary suit. The suit was tested in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park badlands of western North Dakota. The suit has a mass of 47 pounds (21 kg) without a life support backpack, and costs only a fraction of the standard US$12,000,000 cost for a flight-rated NASA space suit.[47] The suit was developed in just over a year by students from the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State, Dickinson State, the state College of Science and Turtle Mountain Community College.[48] The mobility of the North Dakota suit can be attributed to its low operating pressure; while the North Dakota suit was field tested at a pressure of 1 psi (6.9 kPa; 52 Torr) differential, NASA's EMU suit operates at a pressure of 4.7 psi (32 kPa; 240 Torr), a pressure designed to supply approximately sea-level oxygen partial pressure for respiration (see discussion above).


NASA's Prototype eXploration Suit (PXS), like the Z-series, is a rear-entry suit compatible with suitports.[49] The suit has components which could be 3D printed during missions to a range of specifications, to fit different individuals or changing mobility requirements.[50]


A suitport is a theoretical alternative to an airlock, designed for use in hazardous environments and in human spaceflight, especially planetary surface exploration. In a suitport system, a rear-entry space suit is attached and sealed against the outside of a spacecraft, such that an astronaut can enter and seal up the suit, then go on EVA, without the need for an airlock or depressurizing the spacecraft cabin. Suitports require less mass and volume than airlocks, provide dust mitigation, and prevent cross-contamination of the inside and outside environments. Patents for suitport designs were filed in 1996 by Philip Culbertson Jr. of NASA's Ames Research Center and in 2003 by Joerg Boettcher, Stephen Ransom, and Frank Steinsiek.[51][52]


Z-1 Series Suit

In 2012, NASA introduced the Z-1 space suit, the first in the Z-series of space suit prototypes designed by NASA specifically for planetary extravehicular activity. The Z-1 space suit includes an emphasis on mobility and protection for space missions. It features a soft torso versus the hard torsos seen in previous NASA EVA space suits, which provides reduced mass.[53] It has been labeled the "Buzz Lightyear suit" due to its green streaks for a design.

In 2014, NASA released the design for the Z-2 prototype, the next model in the Z-series. NASA conducted a poll asking the public to decide on a design for the Z-2 space suit. The designs, created by fashion students from Philadelphia University, were "Technology", "Trends in Society", and "Biomimicry".[54] The design "Technology" won, and the prototype is built with technologies like 3D printing. The Z-2 suit will also differ from the Z-1 suit in that the torso reverts to the hard shell, as seen in NASA's EMU suit.[55][56]

In fiction

The earliest space fiction ignored the problems of traveling through a vacuum, and launched its heroes through space without any special protection. In the later 19th century, however, a more realistic brand of space fiction emerged, in which authors have tried to describe or depict the space suits worn by their characters. These fictional suits vary in appearance and technology, and range from the highly authentic to the utterly improbable.

A very early fictional account of space suits can be seen in Garrett P. Serviss' novel Edison's Conquest of Mars (1898). Later comic book series such as Buck Rogers (1930s) and Dan Dare (1950s) also featured their own takes on space suit design. Science fiction authors such as Robert A. Heinlein contributed to the development of fictional space suit concepts.

See also

Teddy bears lifted to 30,085 metres (98,704 ft) above sea level on a helium balloon in a materials experiment by CU Spaceflight and SPARKS science club. Each of the bears wore a different space suit designed by 11- to 13-year-olds from SPARKS.
  • Atmospheric diving suit
  • Effect of spaceflight on the human body – Medical consequences of spaceflight
  • Extravehicular activity – Activity done by an astronaut or cosmonaut outside a spacecraft
    • By era:
      • List of spacewalks and moonwalks 1965–1999 – Wikipedia list article
      • List of spacewalks 2000–2014 – Wikipedia list article
    • By station:
      • List of Mir spacewalks – Wikipedia list article
      • List of International Space Station spacewalks – Wikipedia list article
    • List of cumulative spacewalk records – Wikipedia list article
  • Manned Maneuvering Unit – NASA astronaut propulsion unit


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External links

Media files used on this page

Author/Creator: Allocer, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Spacesuit Orlan-MK at МАКС-2009
Sputnik asm.jpg
A replica of Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in the world to be put into outer space: the replica is stored in the National Air and Space Museum.
Apollo 15 Space Suit David Scott.jpg
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Chinese EVA spacesuit (1).JPG
Author/Creator: Johnson Lau, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Chinese EVA spacesuit "Feitian". Taken at the Hong Kong Space Museum, 6 Dec 2008.
G4C EVA 12 - cropped.jpg
Suited test subject equipped with Gemini 12 Life Support System and waist tethers for extravehicular activity.
Astronaut Edward M. (Mike) Fincke, Expedition 9 NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer, wearing a Russian Orlan spacesuit, participates in the third of four sessions of extravehicular activities (EVA) performed by the Expedition 9 crew during their six-month mission. Fincke and cosmonaut Gennady I. Padalka (out of frame), commander representing Russia's Federal Space Agency, spent 4 ½ hours outside the Station swapping out experiments and installing hardware associated with Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), scheduled to launch on its maiden voyage to ISS next year. A cloudy Earth provided the backdrop for the image. According to a label on his chest, he is wearing a Orlan-M suit.
NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley suits up for launch on May 30, 2020.jpg
NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley suits up for launch on May 30, 2020
Alan shepard.jpg
Alan B. Shepard
ACES STS-130.jpg
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - On Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, members of space shuttle Endeavour's STS-130 crew, dressed in their helmets and launch-and-entry suits, approach the pad's slidewire baskets, part of the emergency exit system at the pad. The system includes seven baskets suspended from seven slidewires that extend from the fixed service structure to a landing zone 1,200 feet west of the pad. The crew members of space shuttle Endeavour's upcoming mission are finishing the training related to their launch dress rehearsal, the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test. The primary payload on STS-130 is the International Space Station's Node 3, Tranquility, a pressurized module that will provide room for many of the station's life support systems. Attached to one end of Tranquility is a cupola, a unique work area with six windows on its sides and one on top. Endeavour's launch is targeted for Feb. 7.
Teddies in Space.jpg
Author/Creator: Cambridge University Spaceflight, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Four teddy bears travelled(voyaged) to the edge of space in an experiment run by Cambridge University Spaceflight, with the SPARKS science club at Parkside Community College and Coleridge Community College. The bears were lifted to 30,085 metres above sea level on a latex high altitude balloon filled with helium. The aim of the experiment was to determine which materials provided the best insulation against the -53 ° C temperatures experienced during the journey. Each of the bears wore a different space suit designed by the 11-13 year olds from SPARKS.
Sk-1 spacesuit taken at the Memorial Museum of Space Exploration.jpg
Author/Creator: Mikhail (Vokabre) Shcherbakov, Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0
Spacesuit at the Memorial Museum of Space Exploration in Moscow, Russia.
Krechet space suit - Air and Space.jpg
Author/Creator: Craigboy, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Krechet Soviet moon suit, photo taken at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum located in Washington, D.C., United States
Aldrin Apollo 11 cropped.jpg

*Short description: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the moon *Full description: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, stands on the surface of the moon near the leg of the lunar module, Eagle, during the Apollo 11 moonwalk. Astronaut Neil Armstrong, mission commander, took this photograph with a 70mm lunar surface camera. While Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the lunar module to explore the Sea of Tranquility, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained in lunar orbit with the Command and Service Module, Columbia. *This is the actual photograph as exposed on the moon by Armstrong. He held the camera slightly rotated so that the camera frame did not include the top of Aldrin's portable life support system ("backpack"). A communications antenna mounted on top of the backpack is also cut off in this picture. When the image was released to the public, it was rotated clockwise to restore the astronaut to vertical for a more harmonious composition, and a black area was added above his head to recreate the missing black lunar "sky". The edited version is the one most commonly reproduced and known to the public, but the original version, above, is the authentic exposure. A full explanation with illustrations can be seen at the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.
Author/Creator: Nationaal Archief, Licence: No restrictions
Space suit designed by military engineer Emilio Herrera for stratospheric balloon
NASA Ames AX-5 rigid spacesuit.
STS-118 EVA EMU Suit.jpg
Astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Canadian Space Agency's Dave Williams (out of frame), both STS-118 mission specialists, participate in the mission's first planned session of extravehicular activity (EVA), as construction continues on the International Space Station. During the 6-hour, 17-minute spacewalk Mastracchio and Williams attached the Starboard 5 (S5) segment of the station's truss, retracted the forward heat-rejecting radiator from the station's Port 6 (P6) truss, and performed several get-ahead tasks.
Strizh spacesuit 4148047368 c19cec3782 o.jpg
Author/Creator: famille.sebile, Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0
Image of Strizh spacesuit at an auction at Drouot Montaigne in Paris, France.
Berkut spacesuit.JPG
Author/Creator: Lobanov Andrey, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
The Diving Bell "Berkut" soft design with a removable hard helmet and ventilation system of open type. It was intended to ensure access to space and to save the crew of the space ship "Voskhod-2" in the case of an emergency depressurization of the cabin. Suits" Berkut "used by the crew of Voskhod-2" PI Suits "Berkut" used by the crew the ship "Voskhod-2" PI Belyaev and AA Belyaev and AA Leonov in March 1965, the spacesuit weight - 20 kg. Leonov in March 1965, spacesuit weight - 20 kg. knapsack weight - 21,5 kg . Weight knapsack - 21,5 kg. Developed at the "Star" in 1964-1965. Developed at the Zvezda in 1964-1965. Image taken at the Memorial Museum of Astronautics in Moscow, Russia.
S115-E-05766 (12 Sept. 2006) --- Astronaut Steven G. MacLean, STS-115 mission specialist representing the Canadian Space Agency, photographed in the midst of a pre-breathe exercise in the Quest Airlock of the International Space Station in preparation for a session of extravehicular activity (EVA). European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Reiter (background) assisted MacLean.
FFD IVA Space Suit.jpg
Author/Creator: Nik1718, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Final Frontier Design IVA Space Suit
Launch entry suit.jpg
"Space shuttle orange launch and entry suit (LES), a partial pressure suit, is modeled by a technician. LES was designed for STS-26, the return to flight mission, and subsequent missions. Included in the crew escape system (CES) package are launch and entry helmet (LEH) with communications carrier (COMM CAP), parachute pack and harness, life raft, life preserver unit (LPU), LES gloves, suit oxygen manifold and valves, boots, and survival gear."
First Six Women Astronauts with Rescue Ball - GPN-2002-000207.jpg
NASAs first six women astronauts pose with a mockup of a personal rescue enclosure (PRE) or "rescue ball" in the crew systems laboratory at the Johnson Space Center. The PRE was created as a possible means of transporting astronauts from one Shuttle to another in case of an emergency. The PRE only reached the prototype stage and never flew on any missions. The group includes mission specialists, from left to right, Margaret R. (Rhea) Seddon, Kathryn D. Sullivan, Judith A. Resnik, Sally K. Ride, Anna L. Fisher, and Shannon W. Lucid.
Aouda.X space suit simulator.jpg
Author/Creator: Jarno Peschier, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
This was in Innsbruck during the donning/doffing demonstration at the dress rehearsal for the Mars2013 mission of the Austrian Space Forum (ÖWF).
Z-1 Spacesuit Prototype - standing Nov 2012.jpg
JSC2012-E-237800_ALT (7 Nov. 2012) --- The Z-1 is NASA’s next generation spacesuit, a prototype of which is pictured at the Johnson Space Center. Planned for use by astronauts as they travel to new deep-space locations, the next generation suit will incorporate a number of technology advances to shorten preparation time, improve safety and boost astronaut capabilities during spacewalks and surface activities.
Yang Liwei space suit.JPG
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
STS-116 spacewalk 1.jpg
STS-116 Shuttle Mission Imagery

Backdropped by a colorful Earth, astronaut Robert L. Curbeam, Jr. (left) and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Christer Fuglesang, both STS-116 mission specialists, participate in the mission's first of three planned sessions of extravehicular activity (EVA) as construction resumes on the International Space Station. The landmasses depicted are the South Island (left) and North Island (right) of New Zealand.

Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) will be the largest human-made object ever to orbit the Earth. The station is so large that it could not be launched all at once -- it is being built piecemeal with large sections added continually by flights of the Space Shuttle. To function, the ISS needs trusses to keep it rigid and to route electricity and liquid coolants. These trusses are huge, extending over 15 meters long, and with masses over 10,000 kilograms. Pictured above earlier this month, astronauts Robert L. Curbeam (USA) and Christer Fuglesang (Sweden) work to attach a new truss segment to the ISS and begin to upgrade the power grid.
STS 51-I emergency training - cropped.jpg
Atronauts Richard O. Covey (front) and Joe H. Engle rush from the Discovery during emergency launch-mode egress training at Kennedy Space Center (KSC).
Shuttle Ejection Escape Suit John Young.jpg
When the first shuttle flight, STS-1, lifted off on April 12, 1981, astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen wore the ejection escape suit modeled here. It's a modified version of a U.S. Air Force high-altitude pressure suit.
Yastreb suit.jpg
Author/Creator: Мемориальный музей Космонавтики в Москве, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Yastreb space suit located at the Memorial Museum of Astronautics in Moscow, Russia.
Sokol KV2.JPG
Author/Creator: Vassili Petrovitch, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
A Sokol-KV2 suit located at the Speyer Museum in Germany