12—04—2022

Things worth knowing about the space suits / Eytan Stibbe


About space suits in general, and about our special space suits in particular


Hello Everybody,

I have so much to tell you about the past few days. About the launch, about hovering in space en route to our destination, about the precise landing and the warm, touching welcome we received upon entering the International Space Station. Our time here is extremely intensive - and I promise I’ll tell you about all of it. At the moment, I want to fulfill a small promise I made in my blog a few weeks ago. I’m sending you some select interesting facts about space suits in general - and about our special suits - “our” being the AX1 crew.



Eytan Stibbe in his space suit, waiting for launch. Photo:SpaceX
Eytan Stibbe in his space suit, waiting for launch. Photo:SpaceX


Generally speaking, a space suit is an exterior protective cover the astronauts are required to wear in order to withstand the extreme conditions of space: absence of air to breathe and extreme temperatures.


The history of space suits begins in the 1930s with the high-altitude aviator suits (pressure suits) the first pilots used. These included a large proportion of the elements essential to a space suit - a respiratory system, or accordion-like fixtures around the joints to enable the minimum movement the pilot needs inside the cockpit.


There are two kinds of space space suit: one is suited for intravehicular (inside the spacecraft) and the other, more cumbersome and complicated, is for extravehicular activity such as “space walks” which are done to make repairs or for walking on the moon (or on Mars, when we manage to get there!). We at SpaceX use the first kind only.


The first suit worn in space, the SK-1, was used by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in 1961.



Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin


In the 1960s fashion designer Christian Dior led the New Look concept which was primarily about using flexible materials (such as latex) in the undergarments so as to shape the body. The suit developers adopted the use of those flexible materials, which enabled greater movement for the astronauts, taken from the world of fashion.


In the past each astronaut had one suit - more or less cut to a single size - which was used both for launching and landing, and for space walks. Nowadays, with the new models, the suits are made of separate parts and to different sizes matching the astronauts’ measurements - male or female (whose measurements are usually smaller than those of men).


Space suits of the type we are wearing are called pressure suits. They are intended for the periods of time the astronauts spend inside the spacecraft - from launch to landing, on the way out to space and back. My personal experience: the immediate feeling you get the moment you put it on is that it is about two sizes too small for you...


Until recently, the suits the NASA astronauts wore inside the spacecraft were called “pumpkin suits” due to their orange color (and perhaps also because of Cinderella’s carriage). These suits weigh a lot less than the white or silvery extravehicular suits, and they don’t have whatever is necessary to protect the astronauts outside the spacecraft.


Of course the orange suits and the kind of suits we are wearing, regulate the air pressure, provide oxygen and are outfitted with emergency aids - like for example for a case of loss of cabin atmospheric pressure inside the spacecraft.


Our suit has been designed by suit designer Jose Fernandez, founder of Studio Ironhead, who designed the costumes for Hollywood movies like The Amazing Spider-Man, Thor and Batman V Superman. For Axiom, the suit design and its stylish look were prioritized over the technology involved in it. In one of the interviews Fernandez told that only after he had completed the design, SpaceX made it practical for flight using reverse engineering.


As you have already been able to see in the Zoom meeting with the President and the group of scientist students - inside the space station we wear regular clothes, and there’s no need to put on a special suit.


Please enter our YouTube channel for watching the video with the president and more videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1gJRBkNXyv5tbMZkmjzi4g


See you at the Zoom talks from space

And in the next post I’ll be sending here, to the website.

Stay tuned

Yours, Eytan, The International Space Station







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