Encyclopedia Astronautica
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Space Suits
Credit: © Mark Wade
To explore and work in space, human beings must take their environment with them because there is no atmospheric pressure and no oxygen to sustain life. Inside the spacecraft, the atmosphere can be controlled so that special clothing is not needed. But in order to work outside the spacecraft, humans need the protection of a spacesuit.

Earth's atmosphere is 20 percent oxygen and 80 percent nitrogen from sea level to about 120 km. At 5,500 m, the atmosphere is half as dense as it is on the ground, and at altitudes above 12.000 m, air is so thin and the amount of oxygen so small that pressure oxygen masks no longer do the job. Above the 19,000 m threshold, humans must wear spacesuits that supply oxygen for breathing and that maintain a pressure around the body to keep body fluids in the liquid state. At this altitude the total air pressure is no longer sufficient to keep body fluids from boiling.

US spacesuits have been pressurized at 0.30 bar (30% earth sea level pressure), but because the gas in the suit is 100 percent oxygen instead of 20 percent, the person in a spacesuit actually has more oxygen to breathe than is available at an altitude of 3,000 m without the spacesuit. At the US suit pressure, before leaving to perform tasks in space, an astronaut has to spend several hours breathing pure oxygen before proceeding into space. This procedure is necessary to remove nitrogen dissolved in body fluids and thereby to prevent its release as gas bubbles when pressure is reduced; a condition commonly called "the bends". Russian and future NASA suits are pressurized to 0.56 bar, shortening the pre-breathing period to half an hour.

A spacesuit also shields the astronaut from bombardment by micrometeoroids and insulates the wearer from the temperature extremes of space. Without the Earth's atmosphere to filter the sunlight, the side of the suit facing the Sun may be heated to a temperature as high as 120 degrees C; the other side, exposed to darkness of deep space, may get as cold as -160 degrees C. Paradoxically, the suit's life support system has to remove the heat and moisture generated by the sweaty working astronaut. This is usually accomplished by circulating cool water through an undergarment worn next to the astronaut's skin. Heat overload of space suits caused several crises on the first space walks in the Voskhod and Gemini programs.

Early US space suits were adapted from pressure suits designed for pilots of high altitude military and experimental aircraft. The first suits designed from the beginning for use in space were the American A7L and Soviet Krechet suits. These were designed for walking on the moon during the space race of the 1960's. They provided the basis for those used aboard space station and shuttle missions.

The search for the perfect suit continues. It would seem the next major step will be suits suitable for use on the surface of Mars. These will have very different design criteria than those used in zero-G.


Mark Ridge Suit American pressure suit, tested 1933. The first full pressure suit was made by a London diving suit firm for the American balloonist Mark Ridge.

Pezzi Suit Italian pressure suit, used 1934-37. The first Italian pressure suit was used between 1934 and 1937 by Italian pilots Pezzi and Negroni to break altitude records with the Caproni 161, 161bis and 113 aircraft.

Wiley Post Suit American pressure suit, operational 1934-35. B F Goodrich made a full pressure suit for pioneering aviator Wiley Post, who used it to make ten stratospheric flights in 1934-1935.

Draeger Suit German pressure suit, developed 1935-1945. Draeger-Werke developed a hard shell full pressure suit for the Nazi government.

Escafandra Estratonautica Spanish pressure suit. Spanish Colonel Don Emilio Herrera Linares designed and built a full pressure suit in 1935, which was to have been used during an open-basket balloon stratospheric flight scheduled for early 1936.

Garsaux Suit French pressure suit, tested 1935. The first French full pressure suit was designed by Dr Paul Garsaux with the backing of the Potez Airplane Company in 1935.

Tomato Worm Suit American pressure suit, tested 1940-43. Project MX-117 full "tomato worm" pressure suits were developed during World War II.

Henry PPS American pressure suit, tested 1943. J P Henry and D R Drury designed the capstan partial pressure suit and exposed subjects to 24,000 m. Three models were tested. These would be the basis of the post-war Dave Clark rocketplane suits.

T-1 pressure suit American pressure suit, operational 1948. David Clark Company developed Dr. Henry's original capstan partial pressure suit.

BIS Space Suit British space suit, study of 1949. In 1947 R A Smith presented a series of papers to the British Interplanetary Society. This space suit was the concept for earth orbit work.

Model 4 American pressure suit, operational 1950. The Model 4 Full Pressure Suit was developed for D-558-2 Douglas Skyrocket test pilots. It was first flown by Navy test pilot Marion Carl for a 26 km altitude record flight.

S-2 Pressure Suit American pressure suit, operational 1953. The S-2 was a modified capstan partial pressure suit evolved from the T-1 with no anti-G and no chest bladder. It was produced in 12 sizes for bomber aircraft.

KKO-3 Russian pressure suit, operational 1955. The KKO-3 was the first mass-produced Soviet partial pressure suit. It was very similar to the US MC-3 of the same period.

Lines of non-extension suit American pressure suit, tested 1955. Developmental partial pressure suit concept by Arthur S Iberall while at the Rand Corporation.

RAF Jerkin System British pressure suit, operational 1955. The RAF Jerkin System comprised a pressure vest used with a P/Q mask and anti-G suit. Several variations included unsleeved, sleeved and integrated garments proven for short term protection to 18 km.

S-4 American pressure suit, operational 1955. The S-4 was a modified S-2 partial pressure suit, no anti-G, chest bladder incorporated for ease of breathing.

MC-1 American pressure suit, operational 1956. Modified S-2 partial pressure capstan suit with chest breathing bladder, 12 sizes, high altitude, fighters and bombers, smaller capstan in torso area, pressure gloves, K-1 or MB-5 helmet, David Clark Company.

Mark 1 Mod III American pressure suit, operational 1956. While the USAF concentrated on partial pressure suits, the US Navy worked on omni-environmental full pressure suits to combine altitude and immersion protection.

Canadian PPS Canadian pressure suit, operational 1957. The Canadian Waistcoat-Mask/Vest/G-Suit was a partial pressure assembly. The Canadians studied variants of this assembly as far back as the early 1940's.

MB-1 American pressure suit, tested 1957. MB-1 & 2 were experimental test pilot's partial pressure suits using the K-1 helmet.

MC-3 American pressure suit, operational 1957. A capstan partial pressure suit with horizontal shoulder zipper, sewn break lines, no anti-G, height/weight sizing criteria, used on bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, came in 12 sizes.

C-4 American pressure suit, operational 1958. A partial pressure capstan suit, with vertical shoulder laces, adjustable break lines, anti-G suit, MG-1 Berger Bros. gloves, MA-2 helmet by ILC Dover.

C-1A American pressure suit, tested 1958. A partial pressure capstan suit with incorporated anti-G bladders for USN fighter aircraft, 12 standard sizes.

CSU-2P American pressure suit, tested 1958. Developmental dual capstan partial pressure suit for altitude protection by Berger Brothers. Used pressure socks and double capstan for looser fit.

Lombard Suit American pressure suit, tested 1958. Developmental partial pressure suit developed by Dr. Lombard of Northrop.

MC-2 American pressure suit, operational 1958. The XMC-2 full pressure suit developed in the mid-1950s jointly by Wright Field personnel and the David Clark Company for X-15 pilots.

MC-3A American pressure suit, operational 1958. A modified MC-3 suit with vertical shoulder laces and adjustable break lines. Produced by David Clark and Berger Brothers. MA-2 helmet by ILC Dover.

MC-4A American pressure suit, operational 1958. A modified MC-4 with height/weight fit for fighter aircraft, anti-G suit. Suits produced by David Clark, Berger Brothers and Seymour Wallace.

Mark IV Model 3 Type I American pressure suit, operational 1958. Production suit which US Navy aircrew wore on high altitude flights during its cold weather operations.

Mark I ELSS American space suit, tested 1958-59. The USAF Mark I Extravehicular and Lunar Surface Suit was tested during 1958-59, and led to subsequent development of more refined and satisfactory RX-series "Moon Suits" for NASA.

Horizon Space Suit American pressure suit, study of 1959. For sustained operation on the lunar surface Project Horizon advocated a 'body conformation suit' having a substantial outer metal surface.

Mercury Space Suit American space suit, operational 1960. The Mercury spacesuit was a custom-fitted, modified version of the Goodrich U.S. Navy Mark IV high altitude jet aircraft pressure suit.

A/P 22S-2 American pressure suit, operational 1960. The David Clark XMC-2-DC prototype, although still in need of substantial development, evolved into the MC-2 suit and then into a standardized Air Force high altitude, full pressure garment known as the A/P 22S-2.

A/P 22S-3 American pressure suit, operational 1960. USAF version of the USN Mark IV suit (B. F. Goodrich and Arrow Rubber Company). Full pressure, two layers, oxygen regulator exterior of helmet, 12 torso sizes, 7 gloves sizes, 2 helmet sizes.

Sokol SK-1 Russian space suit, operational 1961 for the Vostok spacecraft.

KKO-5 Russian pressure suit, operational 1961. The KKO-5 partial pressure suit was introduced for pilots of Mach 2 aircraft such as the MiG-21 and Su-9 at the beginning of the 1960's. It represented the largest production run of any pressure suit model.

G2G American space suit, tested 1962. The BF Goodrich space suit was developed in competition with the Dave Clark G2C suit for Project Gemini. It was not flown.

G4C American space suit, operational 1964. Dave Clark G4C flight suits were designed for wear by Gemini astronauts.

A7L ILC Dover spacesuit used for the Apollo and Skylab programs, operational 1968. Hamilton Standard had overall development responsibility for the Apollo suit and associated portable life support system. A subcontract was awarded to International Latex Corporation for development of this suit.

G3C American space suit, operational 1964. Dave Clark G3C initial Gemini production flight suits were worn aboard Gemini 3, and by the spacecraft commanders of Gemini 6 and 8.

G1C American space suit, tested 1962. NASA Gemini prototype full pressure suit, closed loop. The G-1C lead to the G-2C, G-3C (IVA suits), G-4C (both IVA and EVA suit), and G-5C with a soft head enclosure for the 14 day Gemini 7 mission.

Macuh Suit American space suit, tested 1962. Closed cell foam suit concept by Macuh Laboratories, USAF/NASA study, report MLTRD-62-13.

S901/970 American pressure suit, operational 1962. A-12, F-12A and SR-71 full pressure suit; integrated subsystems, parachute harness, automatic flotation system, urine collection device, redundant pressure control and breathing system, thermal protective garment.

S-939 American space suit, cancelled 1962. Full Pressure Suit for the X-20A Dynasoar program.

G2C American space suit, tested 1963. The Dave Clark G2C was the prototype IVA space suit for project Gemini. None were flown. The flight versions were G4C and G5C.

A4H American space suit, tested 1963. ILC Dover and Hamilton Standard full pressure suit, Contained a secondary bladder and restraint with a wrist cuff/dam for NASA/HSD (1963-1964), modified A4H suit for NASA-AMES (1964-1965).

A1C American space suit, tested 1965. For the initial Block I Apollo missions a modification of the Gemini G4C suit was to have been flown. After the death of the Apollo 1 crew on the pad, Block I missions were cancelled and the suit never flew.

Berkut Russian space suit, operational 1965. Berkut was a modified Vostok Sokol space suit. The needs of the cosmonaut were supplied not through the umbilical cord, but rather through a simple open-cycle environmental control system.

Gemini EMU American space mobility device, tested 1966. Vought developed the EMU, which was to have been flown in the Gemini program. This design approach led to the Space Shuttle's MMU (Manned Maneuvering Unit) was put into operation.

AX5L American space suit, tested 1964. NASA Apollo suit prototype, rated for intravehicular activity only.

AX-Series American space suit, tested 1964-68. Between 1964 and 1968 two hard suit assemblies were developed at NASA-ARC, identified as the AX-1 (Ames Experimental) and AX-2. These suits were the first to demonstrate multiple bearing technology.

RX-Series American space suit, tested 1964. RX-1 Litton full pressure hardsuit, weighed 40 kg, rolling convolute joint technology, 2-plane enclosure, modular sizing, 1964. Followed by RX-2, 40 kg. in 1964 and RX-2A, 36 kg in 1964.

G5C American space suit, operational 1965. This David Clark lightweight suit was developed for long duration project Gemini missions. It was designed to be easily removed during flight and to provide greater comfort than the standard Gemini space suit.

AX-1C American space suit, tested 1965. Full pressure, Apollo Block II prototype suit for both IVA/EVA by the David Clark Company. Not put into production.

AES Series American Apollo Extension Systems space suit, tested 1965. Developmental suit hybrids for use in long-term space stations and lunar based used laminated fabrics, rolling convolutes, toroidal joints, sealed bearings, and modular sizing. Versions by both AiResearch and Litton.

CSU-4/P American pressure suit, operational 1965. A bladder type partial pressure suit, with quick don, 8 sizes.

CSU-5/P American pressure suit, operational 1965. A modified bladder type partial pressure CSU-4/P suit with integrated wet suit.

EFA-30 French pressure suit, operational 1965. French partial pressure capstan suit using full pressure buffet protective helmet.

Grumman Moon Suit American space suit, tested 1965.

S-100 American pressure suit, operational 1965. Pressure suit which introduced many modifications from the early MC-3A capstan suits.

S-1029 American pressure suit, tested 1965. Developmental bladder type partial pressure suit.

Space Sled American space mobility device, tested 1965. Marquardt developed a sled design in the mid-1960's for maneuvering in the vicinity of a spacecraft. The space sled approach was dropped in preference to the shuttle manned maneuvering unit.

Type B British pressure suit, operational 1965. Full pressure suit designed by R. E. Simpson, and developed by Baxter, Woodhouse and Taylor Ltd. for the Royal Air Force.

TFX American pressure suit, tested 1965. Prototype bladder type partial pressure suit with a separate Anti-G suit valve. APL program with Navy and ILC Dover.

G4C AMU American space suit, operational 1966. This space suit was designed to provide thermal protection to astronauts using the Astronaut Maneuvering Unit (AMU).

Yastreb Russian space suit, operational 1969. The Yastreb suit was the first suit designed in the Soviet Union for extra-vehicular activity. Design began in 1965. Initially to be worn on the aborted Soyuz 1/2 1967 crew transfer mission.

Boyles Law Suit American pressure suit, tested 1966. Concept by Otto Schueller, patented by Davis, Moore, Ritzinger and Whitmore at USAFSAM.

DU-1 Rocket Belt Russian space mobility device. Cancelled 1966. This rocket belt was planned for use aboard a follow-on Voskhod mission in the 1960's. The mission was cancelled and the belt never tested.

Republic Moon Suit American pressure suit, tested 1966. This was a Republic Aviation design for a hard space suit for extended operations on the lunar surface.

A/P22S-4 American pressure suit, operational 1967. Full pressure suit replacement for the A/P22S-2, 8 sizes for use in bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. Evolved from the original MC-2 design.

Krechet Russian space suit, tested 1969. The Krechet spacesuit was designed by the Zvezda OKB for use on the lunar surface. It consisted of flexible limbs attached to a one-piece rigid body / helmet unit.

Orlan Russian space suit. The Orlan spacesuit was used for Russian EVA's on Salyut, Mir, and the International Space Station. It was designed by the Zvezda OKB, and derived from the Kretchet suit intended for use on the lunar surface.

NAZ-3 Russian space emergency kit, operational 1968. The NAZ-3 emergency-landing kit was used in cosmonaut training in all seasons and extremes of temperature, and on all manner of terrain: mountains, steppes, tundra, desert, taiga, and in water.

S1010 American pressure suit, operational 1968. A special variant of the S901, designated the S1010 PPA, was developed specifically for use in the U-2R aircraft in the mid-1960s.

Swedish Jerkin Swedish pressure suit, operational 1968. Partial coverage garment - two pressure flying suit with diaphragmatic bladder, used with high pressure mask equivalent to A-13 with Hardman kit.

A9L American space suit, tested 1969. Two hard-shell, constant-volume suits entered development for the Apollo Applications Program.

IMLSS American space mobility device. Cancelled 1969. In 1968-69 Hamilton Standard developed this Integrated Maneuvering Life Support System (IMLSS) for the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory program.

MOL Space Suit American space suit. Cancelled 1969. Space suit designed to support launch/re-entry and Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) aboard the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory. Developed from 1965-1969, when MOL was cancelled.

Baklan Russian pressure suit, operational 1970. The Baklan full-pressure suit was developed by Zvezda for the crew of high altitude strategic aviation aircraft.

EIS/OES American space suit, tested 1970. Developmental 0.54 bar Emergency Intravehicular Suit (EIS) and Orbital Extravehicular Suit (OES) programs were conducted by NASA in the 1970's.

S1030 American pressure suit, operational 1970. Upgraded SR-71 full pressure suit, link net with integrated subsystems.

VMSK-4 Russian pressure suit, operational 1970. The VMSK-4 was a partial pressure immersion suit developed for Soviet Naval Aviation pilots.

Penguin Russian anti-zero-G suit, tested 1975. Prophylactic Body-Loading Suit, in use from 1978-; looked like the standard Russian blue in-flight suit, but had additional elastic bands and pulleys that created artificial force against which the body could work.

Chibis Russian anti-zero-G device, in use from 1971 (Salyut 1) to the ISS era.

Sokol-K1 Russian space suit, operational 1971. After the Soyuz 11 tragedy, in which all three unsuited cosmonauts died in a decompression accident, the Soviets scrambled to produce new IVA suits.

Space Activity Suit American space suit, tested 1971. Prototype for a Mechanical Counter Pressure suit made up of six layers of elastic material accompanied by a full bubble helmet.

Skylab AMU American space mobility device, tested 1973. One of several extravehicular mobility devices tested by the Skylab astronauts within the spacious station.

Skylab AME American space mobility device, tested 1974. Another of the EVA maneuvering units tested by the Skylab astronauts within the capacious station.

A/P22S-6 American pressure suit, operational 1975. Full pressure suit replacement for the A/P22S-4. 12 sizes, for bomber, reconnaissance and fighter aircraft.

A/P22S-6A American pressure suit, operational 1975. Modified A/P22S-6 suit to add urine collection device with other material and hardware changes.

HAFO American pressure suit, operational 1977. High Altitude Flying Outfit. Prototype developmental full pressure suit with integrated thermal/pressure/chemical defense/immersion and anti-G protection, ILC Dover.

HAPS American pressure suit, operational 1977. High Altitude Protective System (HAPS). Hybrid get-me-down system assembled for NASA Dryden Flight Research Center test pilots.

PHAFO American pressure suit, tested 1977. Prototype High Altitude Flying Outfit. Prototype partial pressure suit by David Clark to integrate altitude, thermal, immersion, chemical defense and anti-G protection.

Chinese Space Suit The Shenzhou flight suits were reverse-engineered from the Russia Sokol suit. The suits are designed to protect the astronaut in the event of cabin depressurization, and not for use in extra-vehicular activity.

EES American space suit, operational 1980. The initial series of shuttle flights were equipped with specially adapted SR-71 ejection seats for the two crew.

S1031 American pressure suit, operational 1980. The S1010 and several S1010 dash variants were later replaced by a further advanced model, the S1031 PPA. The S1031 special projects full pressure suit came in 12 sizes and was used in the TR-1 and U-2R.

Shuttle EMU American space suit, operational 1980. Space Shuttle Extravehicular Mobility Unit reusable suit. For a particular crew member and mission it was tailored from a stock of standard-size parts. Certified for eight EVA's.

TR-1 pressure suit American pressure suit, tested 1980. Prototype full pressure suit developed by ILC Dover for the TR-1 aircraft.

TLSS/ALSS American pressure suit, tested 1982. Tactical Life Support System. Developed by the USAF and Boeing/Gentex to provide get-me-down protection from 18 km.

Shuttle MMU American space mobility device, tested 1984. The MMU Manned Maneuvering Unit was designed for maneuvering by astronauts untethered from the shuttle. It was used on several satellite retrieval missions in the early 1980's.

AX-5 American space suit, tested 1985. The AX-5 high pressure, zero prebreathe hard suit was developed at NASA Ames Research Center in the 1980s. It achieved mobility through a constant volume, using a hard metal/composite rigid exoskeleton design.

MK ZPS American space suit, tested 1985. NASA Zero Pre-breathe full pressure Suit developed to preclude the need for denitrogenation prior to EVA.

Shuttle LES American space suit, operational 1986. After the Challenger disaster, it was decided to provide the crew with pressure suits to be worn during launch and re-entry.

AHAFS American pressure suit, operational 1987. Advanced High Altitude Flight Suit. High pressure (0.40 bar) full pressure suit developed for the USAF to increase mobility at higher operating pressures.

APS American pressure suit, tested 1989. The Advanced Pressure Suit (APS) was a bladder type partial pressure suit designed and developed by Northrop and ILC Dover for the F-23 Advanced Tactical Fighter.

KKO-15 Russian pressure suit, operational 1989. Protective partial pressure suit was used by pilots of Russian high-performance combat aircraft. It featured better performance and G-protection than earlier models .

Sokol-KV2 Russian space suit, operational 1990. Improved version of the Sokol IVA suit developed for use aboard Soyuz T.

Strizh Russian space suit, operational 1990. The Strizh full-pressure suit was developed for the Buran program. It was qualified to protect the cosmonaut in ejections from the spaceplane at altitudes up to 30 km and speeds of up to Mach 3.

SPK Russian space mobility device, tested 1990. The Soviet Union developed a manned maneuvering unit and flew it from Mir in 1990.

S1034 American pressure suit, operational 1991.

NASA Mark III American space suit, tested 1992. The NASA Mark III was an advanced NASA space suit design of the 1990's.

F-22 PPS American pressure suit, operational 1993. Partial pressure suit development for F-22 Aircraft. Get-me-down partial pressure ensemble combining Mask/Vest/uniform pressure anti-G garment for protection to 18 km.

ISS EMU American space suit, operational 1993. Upgraded version of the Shuttle EMU with improved sizing and mobility, 25 EVA certification, Hamilton Standard and ILC Dover.

ACES spacesuit American space suit, operational 1995. The Shuttle Advanced Crew Escape Suit (ACES) replaced the Launch/Entry Suit (LES) from 1995 on. The ACES fulfilled the same functions as the LES.

EVA 2000 Russian space suit, tested 1995. Prototype full pressure suit effort between ESA and USSR to upgrade the Orlan DMA.

ESA Space Suit European space suit, tested 1995. Prototype full pressure suit for the European Space Agency (ESA), produced by Dornier, Dassault, Zodiac, et. al., 0.40 bar.

D-1 spacesuit American space suit, operational 1998. The D-1 (S1035X) space suit assembly was developed to provide a functional all-soft suit technology demonstrator prototype model to be used for mobility system testing and evaluation.

M-Suit American space suit, tested 1998. In the fall of 1998, two soft suit prototypes were delivered to NASA by two companies, ILC Dover and David Clark. ILC Dover's M-Suit operated at a pressure of 0.26 atmospheres and weighed 30 kg.

Bio-Suit American space suit, study of 2001. Novel approach that used biomedical breakthroughs in skin replacement and materials to replace the bulky conventional balloon spacesuit with a second skin approach.

Feitian Chinese space suit for extravehicular activity, operational 2008. Reverse-engineered copy of Russian Orlan suits purchased in . Many details different, new Chinese avionics and control systems, all-Chinese materials.

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