Watch Chris Hadfield explain more about the Extravehicular Mobility Unit, as he trains at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near Houston, Texas.
Here is a brief look back at some of the different space suits NASA astronauts have worn over the years. Can you spot the similarities and differences?
This design was used for the Gemini VIII mission in 1966. It has a helmet with gold visor, a chest unit and a backpack unit.
NASA astronaut Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin is shown here in on the surface of the Moon in July 1969, in a photograph taken by fellow astronaut Neil A. Armstrong.
This photograph was taken in 1973 during a Skylab spacewalk.
This image from 1984 shows astronaut Bruce McCandless floating free of Space Shuttle Columbia during a test of the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) he helped design. The MMU is the precursor of today’s SAFER.
In this September 1994 photograph, astronaut Mark C. Lee is testing the Simplified Aid for Extravehicular Activity Rescue (SAFER). As you can see, he has unclipped his tether and is floating free!
Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield goes for a walk outside the International Space Station in April 2001.
And the future?
While today’s space suits have been designed for use in Space, a suit for use during planetary exploration — such as a Mars mission — would need different features.
With Mars in mind, NASA has been working on designs that are lighter and more flexible, allowing an astronaut to bend at the waist, for example, to collect surface samples. A helmet bubble allowing a wider field of vision is also on the wish list.
Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU)
Click on the images below to find out more about the different parts of an astronaut’s space suit, along with experiments, instructions for making your own EMU, and more!
Want a poster for your classroom? Please email your request to contact@IngeniumCanada.org
Imagine you are an astronaut going outside the International Space Station (ISS) to do regular maintenance and repairs. Space is a dangerous environment. You will face extreme temperatures, exposure to the Sun’s radiation, and could even be hurt by small rocks or debris hurtling through Space.
How will you protect yourself?
Your Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) is like a mini-spacecraft. It has 14 layers, and contains all the equipment and protection you need. But it is not very easy to move around in.
What do you think it would feel like to wear and work in an EMU for six to eight hours?
- Read the Spacesuit Hero poster closely.
- Read the additional information about the EMU suit, and watch the video links.
- Take notes, and organize them using a graphic organizer such as a mind map.
- Imagine how wearing a spacesuit might feel. Have you ever worn anything large and bulky and hard to move in (e.g., hockey equipment; a Hallowe’en costume)? Do you think you would find it uncomfortable? Do you think it would bother you? Add any new thoughts to your graphic organizer.
Think of adjectives you could use to describe being inside the suit, and add these to your graphic organizer. Here are some suggestions:
- Review your graphic organizer and choose the final information you want to use.
- Think of an audience for your poster: who are you communicating with, and why? What information do you think the Museum wanted you to get from its own poster? What do you want your poster to do?
- Decide on a “voice” for your poster. Re-read the Space Suit Hero poster text — what tone does the astronaut use? Funny? Factual? What will your character be like? How will they speak?
- Draft your poster and text, then edit carefully, checking spelling, vocabulary, punctuation, grammar, and so forth.
- Publish your finished piece, including its visuals (draw, paint, make a collage from magazine images, or pictures from the web, etc.)
- Feel like sharing? The Museum would love to see your work! Ask a parent/guardian for permission to post it on the Museum’s Facebook page (Canada Aviation and Space Museum) or to its Twitter account (@avspacemuseum)
Ontario Curriculum Links
Language — Reading
- read and demonstrate an understanding of a variety of literary, graphic, and informational texts, using a range of strategies to construct meaning;
- recognize a variety of text forms, text features, and stylistic elements and demonstrate understanding of how they help communicate meaning;
- use knowledge of words and cueing systems to read fluently;
- reflect on and identify their strengths as readers, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful before, during, and after reading.
Language — Writing
- generate, gather, and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience;
- draft and revise their writing, using a variety of informational, literary, and graphic forms and stylistic elements appropriate for the purpose and audience;
- use editing, proofreading, and publishing skills and strategies, and knowledge of language conventions, to correct errors, refine expression, and present their work effectively;
- reflect on and identify their strengths as writers, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful at different stages in the writing process.
Quebec Curriculum Links
Elementary Cycle Three
English Language Arts
- To read and listen to literary, popular and information-based texts
- To write self-expressive, narrative and information-based texts
- To represent his/her literacy in different media
- To use language to communicate and learn
The Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) has many parts, all made in different sizes to fit a wide range of astronauts. “Extravehicular” means “outside of the vehicle” — or, in the case of today's astronauts, outside the International Space Station. This suit is basically a personal spacecraft designed to protect an astronaut from the dangers of Space.
Read on for information on the Lower Torso Assembly, and its important safety features.
Lower Torso Assembly
The Lower Torso Assembly includes the pants, boots and lower half of the waist closure. The “waist bearing” makes it easier for an astronaut to move and turn. A metal body-seal closure connects the upper and lower sections of the suit.
Some suits are all white, some have red stripes, and others have candy-cane stripes. These colour variations help astronauts tell one another apart when two or more astronauts are on a spacewalk.
D-rings on tethers attach to the astronaut and to the Space Station or spacecraft, to help ensure that they don’t float away.
Maximum Absorption Garment (MAG)
When you gotta go, you gotta go!
Preparing for a spacewalk is a long and complicated process. To make the most of it, spacewalks are often eight hours long. It is not practical — or even possible — for astronauts to return to the Space Station or spacecraft to use the washroom when nature calls.
So yes, astronauts wear adult diapers.
Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment (LCVG)
Worn underneath the exterior suit, the LCVG looks a bit like long underwear, and is made of stretchy spandex material. There are 91.5 metres of narrow tubing in the suit, circulating water to help regulate temperature. Vents draw off the astronaut’s sweat, which is recycled into this cooling system.
The EMU has an amazing 14 layers!
Layers 1 to 3 make up the Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment (LCVG) shown above.
Layer 4 is the bladder layer. This maintains the right pressure for the body and contains the astronaut’s oxygen for breathing.
Layer 5 helps the bladder layer conform to the astronaut’s body shape. It is made of the same material as camping tents.
Layer 6 is the ripstop lining, which makes it tear-resistant.
Layers 7 to 13 are made of Mylar insulation — the same material you see in shiny party balloons. Mylar allows the suit to act like a thermos, keeping temperatures from changing inside the suit. It also helps protect the astronaut from small objects flying through Space.
Layer 14 is a blend of three fabrics, one of which is waterproof, one of which is the same material as bullet-proof vests, and one of which is fire-resistant.