A spacesuit (astronaut costume) is much more than a set of garments astronauts wear during spacewalks. A fully outfitted spacesuit is essentially a self-sufficient spaceship. The official term for the spacesuit used on the space shuttle and International Space Station is the Extravehicular Mobility Unit or EMU. “Extravehicular” implies outside of the vehicle or spaceship. “Mobility” indicates that the astronaut can move about in the suit. The spacesuit protects the astronaut from the perils of being outdoors in space.
Is the space atmosphere harmful to humans?
A typical notion of space is known as the Karman Line, an imaginary border 100 kilometres (62 miles) above mean sea level. Unfortunately, the danger zone following this line is not suitable for people to survive. The most prevalent explanation for this is that there is little or no respirable oxygen in that location.
Almost all living creatures use oxygen for energy production. Oxygen enters the lungs and diffuses into the blood as we breathe in. Our lungs, operating as a miniature factory, throw off the carbon dioxide molecule created by 2 oxygen and 1 carbon atom after the process.
Although oxygen deprivation appears to be the sole serious threat, it is really just one of the dangers.
Who Invented the astronaut costume?
Before civilization was able to explore the sky outside of Earth’s orbit, we first had to grasp what happens to our bodies once we rise beyond a certain height. Fly too high in the sky, and the human body will succumb to a shortage of oxygen. And if you survive that, the colder environment will undoubtedly lead to hypothermia. Believe it or not, it took the patience of one determined Spaniard to find out how to get past such obstacles, enabling for explore the sky at tremendous heights.
His name was Emilio Herrera, and his objective was not to design a suit in which he could cross outer space. A hot air balloon ride into the clouds would be more Herrera’s cup of tea.
Herrera was born into an affluent family in Granada, Spain, in 1879 (through Open Mind) (via Open Mind). Drawing on inspiration from both his military father and the writings of Jules Verne, Herrera grew interested in the subjects of aerostatics and aviation. As a young adult, he entered the army and graduated from the Engineers Academy in Guadalajara. Hot air balloons are referred to as aerostats in the scientific community. Thus Herrera made a point of highlighting his work in that area.
While in the Spanish army, Herrera was a Hot Air Balloon Unit member. He participated in numerous successful missions across the northern section of Africa. Herrera also acquired the distinction of being the first person to cross the Strait of Gibraltar by balloon.
Herrera wants to push balloon flight to the maximum. Travelling higher into the Stratosphere was his objective. Still, he knew it had deadly implications for those who had done it before (via The Fanatic) (via The Fanatic). Nine miles above the planet’s surface, the Earth’s second layer of the atmosphere starts. Following NASA, it extends 31 miles above the surface of the Earth. Because previous attempts to travel at this height had resulted in death, Herrera set out to create equipment that would allow him to complete this goal.
Along with a vessel that could safely fly to greater altitudes, Herrera understood he would need to construct a specific garment to protect the rider. To do this, he devised a garment that featured a wool layer, enveloping the individual from head to toe in this material. As wool would absorb the liquid in the atmosphere, Herrera added a second layer composed of rubber to his outfit to protect the wood from moisture. A steel-threaded final layer was added, encasing the enterprise altogether.
Completing this costume was an aluminium helmet, replete with rebreathing machines, thermometers, and microphones. The prototype was finished in 1935.
Sadly, this garment was never able to be tested. Soon after it was built, civil war broke out in Spain in 1936. Herrera, a staunch Republican, was forced to go to South America and live as an exile. He then lived in France. Herrera turned down Nazi offers to pay for his litigation during World War II.
Herrera’s idea had not gone ignored but did not fall into practical usage until NASA offered money for his help some 30 years after his initial prototype was constructed. Herrera rebuffed NASA’s request to build a new astronaut costume after refusing to affix a Spanish Republic flag on the helmet.
Nevertheless, NASA drew influence from Herrera’s garment while creating its first spacesuit. Nearly 100 years after Herrara’s suit was initially manufactured, the effect from his design can still be found in astronaut gear developed by space organizations of all types and even in those spacesuits in current use today.
Also Read: Who invented walking?
In what ways do astronauts rely on an astronaut costume (Spacesuit) ?
Spacesuits benefit astronauts in various ways. Spacewalking astronauts endure a broad array of temperatures. In Earth orbit, temperatures may be as low as 250 degrees Fahrenheit. In the sunshine, they may be as hot as 250 degrees. A spacesuit (astronaut costume) protects astronauts from such severe temperatures.
Spacesuits also offer astronauts oxygen to breathe when they are in the vacuum of space. They hold water to sip during spacewalks. They safeguard astronauts from being damaged by collisions with microscopic pieces of space dust. Space dust may not seem particularly threatening, but it may inflict harm when even a tiny particle travels many times faster than a bullet. Additionally, spacesuits shield astronauts from the harmful radiation they may encounter while in space. The suits even feature visors to protect astronauts’ eyes from the harsh sunshine.
What Are the Parts of an astronaut costume (Spacesuit)?
The spacesuit consists of numerous components. The chest of the astronaut is protected by the Hard Upper Torso. The arm assembly covers the arms and attaches to the gloves. Extravehicular Visor Assembly (EVA) is a combination of helmet and goggles that protects the astronaut’s head while enabling them to see as much as possible while in space. The Lower Torso Assembly protects the astronaut’s thighs, calves, and toes while aboard the International Space Station. Multi-layered materials make up the suit’s flexible portions. Layers serve various purposes, from preserving oxygen in the spacesuit to guarding against the damaging effects of space dust.
Underneath the spacesuit, astronauts wear a Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment. Every part of this body-hugging outfit is made out of tubes, save for the heads and feet. Water is pumped via these tubes during the spacewalk to keep the astronaut cool.
The rear of the spacesuit is a rucksack called the Primary Life Support Subsystem. During a spacewalk, astronauts need oxygen stored in this bag. Carbon dioxide exhaled by astronauts is also removed. The suit is powered by the backpack as well. A fan blows oxygen into the spacesuit and life support systems while water is stored in a water tank and sprayed via the LCVG.
The Simplified Aid for Extravehicular Activity Rescue, or SAFER, is also linked to the suit’s back. SAFER features multiple tiny thruster jets. If astronauts were separated from the space station, they might utilize SAFER to fly back.
What Other an astronaut costume (Spacesuit) Have Astronauts Worn?
NASA’s first spacesuits (astronaut costumes) were produced for the Mercury program. NASA’s first human-crewed mission to space took place in Mercury. Suits modelled on U.S. Navy pilots were the inspiration for these modest suits. Spacewalks were not an option for astronauts back then. The Mercury suits were worn solely within the spaceship.
During the Gemini program, NASA performed its first-ever spacewalks. The suits used during Gemini were more sophisticated than the Mercury suits. Compared to today’s spacesuits, the Gemini suits were far more straightforward. These suits did not have their own life support. Instead, they used an umbilical cable to connect to the Gemini spacecraft’s life support systems.
The Apollo program’s spacesuits had to perform things that the original suits couldn’t. These spacesuits have to safeguard astronauts walking on the moon. Unlike the other suits, the Apollo suits included boots built to walk on rocky terrain. The Apollo suits also had a life support system comparable to the Portable Life Support Subsystem on the modern suit. The spacesuit’s life support system enabled the crew to explore away from the lunar lander.
Spacesuits identical to the Apollo suits were used on the Skylab space station. An umbilical link the Skylab suits to the spacecraft’s life support systems, as was the case with the Gemini suits.
What astronaut costume Are Worn Today?
In addition to the EMU, NASA astronauts use different suits today. The Advanced Crew Escape Suit is the orange suit that astronauts wear during the launch and landing of the space shuttle. This suit cannot be used during spacewalks. Sometimes, NASA astronauts will wear the Russian Orlan spacesuit. This suit is the Russian counterpart of the EMU and is used for spacewalks. Another Russian outfit is the Sokol. Like the Advanced Crew Escape Suit, the Sokol is meant solely to be utilized within a spaceship. It is used on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
So can every astronaut wear the same astronaut costume?
As you might understand, the physical structure of every astronaut is not the same. Some astronauts may be tall, some are short, and others may be slightly slimmer or overweight. For this reason, astronauts have space suits in three different sizes (small, medium and big) that they wear on the International Space Station. Because the spacesuit’s attachment points are identical, an astronaut may mix and match the three different sizes if necessary.
How much does an astronaut costume cost?
The cost of a spacesuit is fixed at roughly $12 million. It may be claimed that this shield is cost-effective given that a spacesuit is not constructed for every astronaut, and it can be used again for many years as long as there are no difficulties with it.
So what is the most costly item of an astronaut costume?
Initially, it may appear like the most costly equipment on the spacesuit is the Primary Life Support System. This machine, responsible for controlling the oxygen and temperature levels, has various electrical components. However, in terms of cost, NASA spends the most on the astronauts’ gloves. Spacesuit gloves are the biggest limiting element when it comes to functioning in space. Astronauts normally manage between 70 and 110 tools, tethers and related equipment on a standard spacewalk. Like an inflated balloon, the fingers of the gloves resist the attempt to bend them. Astronauts must combat such pressure with every movement of their hand, which is tiring and occasionally ends in damage. Furthermore, the joints of the glove are prone to wear, which might lead to life-threatening leaks. For this reason, the gloves are uniquely engineered to enhance astronauts’ movement.
So, to summarize, spacesuits are effectively wearing spacecraft that can keep people alive, feed them, communicate with them, and even serve as a bathroom.
Also Read: How long does it take to get into space?