A spacesuit is much more than a set of clothes astronauts wear on spacewalks. A fully equipped spacesuit is really a one-person spacecraft, protecting the astronaut from the dangers of being outside in space.
The First Spacesuits
NASA's first spacesuits were developed for the Mercury program. Mercury was the first time NASA astronauts flew into space. These early spacesuit designs were based on pressure suits worn by U.S. Navy pilots. Since astronauts did not do spacewalks then, the Mercury suits were worn only inside the spacecraft.
NASA's first spacewalks took place during the Gemini program. The suits used for Gemini were more advanced than the Mercury suits, but they were simpler than the spacesuits of today. These suits did not contain their own life support equipment. Instead, they connected to life support systems on the Gemini spacecraft with a cord called the umbilical.
Apollo Program Suits
Spacesuits designed for the Apollo program had to do things the first suits did not. These spacesuits had to protect astronauts from the Moon’s harsh conditions, ranging from temperature extremes to prolonged exposure to harmful radiation from the Sun.
Unlike the other suits, the Apollo suits also had boots designed for walking on a rocky surface. The Apollo suits also contained a life support system, similar to the Portable Life Support Subsystem on the current suit. Having a life support system on the spacesuit allowed the astronauts to explore away from the lunar lander.
Moon to Mars
More than 45 years since we last set foot on the Moon, NASA’s Artemis program willreturn astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024, including the first woman and next man.With our goal of sending humans to Mars, Artemis is the first step to begin this next eraof exploration.NASA’s Space Launch System rocket will send crew aboard the Orion spacecraft todeep space and usher in a new era of space exploration.The spacecraft will take us farther than we’ve gone before, and dock with the Gatewayin orbit around the Moon. Orion will carry up to four crew members and is designed tosupport astronauts traveling hundreds of thousands of miles from home, where gettingback to Earth takes days rather than hours.Both distance and duration demand Orion to have systems that can reliably operate farfrom home, be capable of keeping astronauts alive in case of emergencies and still belight enough that a rocket can launch it.
Engineers and technicians at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston are testing the spacesuit astronauts will wear aboard the agency’s Orion spacecraft on trips to deep space. The suit, known as the Modified Advanced Crew Escape Suit, is a closed-loop version of the launch and entry suits worn by space shuttle astronauts. The suit will contain all the necessary functions to support life and is being designed to enable spacewalks and sustain the crew in the unlikely event the spacecraft loses pressure.