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Space Suit Hero - The EMU — Underwater!

Illustration of an astronaut

Watch Chris Hadfield explain more about the Extravehicular Mobility Unit, as he trains at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near Houston, Texas.

alright Chris Hadfield's here we're at
the neutral buoyancy lab this is the
underwater training facility where we've
learned how to do spacewalks and in a
few days I'm going to be underwater
practicing and teaching another
astronaut when the new astronauts one of
the David and Jeremy's classmates about
space walking practicing keeping my own
skills fresh here underwater in Houston
Texas at the neutral buoyancy lab we do
a lot of training of course before we
get in the water our tools are all laid
out for us to train with including
mock-ups of the Canada arm and all of
our various equipment that we need to
learn how to use to be able to
successfully walk in space all laid out
on tables when we go through them one by
one we have all the various joints that
the Canada and the crew may have to work
with replacing cameras in the foreground
are several of the big boxes that are on
the space station that so we might have
to change out as they break over time
onboard the space station
if the every feet in the portable foot
restraint and you want to turn you can
pick one foot out step on the OP head
and the whole articulating portable foot
restraint will turn and if you want to
roll in a different axis and then roll
it left and right but the tools we use
in space flow from extremely simple like
this wire tie that we just loop around
things and hold on the Russians had that
idea the wire tie very simple - pretty
straightforward like a ratchet where you
got to turn the ratchet it's got a
handle for you
nice socket ratchet set right through to
some pretty complicated tools that are
used for locking down the doors at a
space shuttle or similar equipment that
we use on the space station a lot of the
tools are made of metal trouble is when
you get in the water the metal is still
more dense than water so it pulls you to
the bottom of the pool so some of the
heavier tools like our big drill our big
pistol grip tool we make out of plastic
that way when you get in the pool it it
says the same density as the water it
doesn't float it doesn't sink and when
you really have to use a tool the divers
will just give you a high fidelity
working tool
and you could take off the plastic one
it's a compromise but it works for
hoses and clamps and connectors the
space station was cooled with ammonia it
has fluid connectors for water that has
fluid connectors for other gases
nitrogen and helium and so all of those
need to be trained for opening and
closing and connecting in orbit and this
is the simulator we have in order to
practice all of the techniques for
releasing and lifting and adjusting all
of the various parts of the space
station the big bales that will open and
close them to allow us to remove a
connector it's all different types and
this is where we learn to use them
EMU gloves these are the gloves that we
wear it to do a spacewalk hand goes up
inside all the various platters
Custom Fit sometimes we wear a liner
inside just to soak up the sweat
it's pressurized so we have this bar we
pull across the back really tight and
that squeezes on the glove so that it
doesn't balloon up when you're working
out in space water bag this goes inside
here's the drink spout up here that we
drink through and it gets carried inside
a little Kevlar bag inside so that we
have water to drink while Rogers live
for seven or eight hours it's important
to wear your helmet in space this is our
space walking helmet it's got visors
place for the head too even got a little
thing inside on this side to clear your
ears scratch your nose and I'll sell the
device it's a space walk and helmet


Good morning from the Neutral Buoyancy Lab.
All of the gear that we're going to be wearing is over on the far side under the Canada flag.
This pool is 15 metres deep, and it allows us to simulate weightlessness.
And today I'm going to be under water for about five or six hours, practicing space walking,
working with another astronaut, and reacquainting myself with the space walking suit.
So this is the EMU, the extravehicular mobility unit. It is different than the Russian Orlan.
This one you climb in through the bottom and then build the suit around you.
The Orlan, it's like getting into a little car or something.
You open the back and slide yourself in, and pull the door shut behind you.
This one has more mobility. The Orlan has a lot more simplicity for on-orbit ops.
[Off-microphone chatter]
They're not so good for this.
The gloves are alright.
But they're worse when they're pressurized. Right now I can manipulate this pretty well.
[Off-microphone chatter]



Space Suit Hero - Spacesuits Past, Present and Future

Illustration of an astronaut

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?

Photo Credit: NASA

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.

Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin
Photo Credit: NASA

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.

Skylab spacewalk
Photo Credit: NASA

This photograph was taken in 1973 during a Skylab spacewalk.

Bruce McCandless floating free of Space Shuttle Columbia
Photo Credit: NASA

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.

Testing SAFER
Photo Credit: NASA

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!

Chris Hadfield
Photo Credit: NASA

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield goes for a walk outside the International Space Station in April 2001.

Mars Suit
Photo Credit: NASA

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.

Space Suit Hero

Illustration of an astronaut

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

Canada Aviation and Space Museum
Grade Level:
Grade 6 (Ontario)
Elementary Cycle 3 (Quebec)
Program Location

Space Suit Hero - Language Activity

Illustration of an astronaut

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?

  1. Read the Spacesuit Hero poster closely.
  2. Read the additional information about the EMU suit, and watch the video links.
  3. Take notes, and organize them using a graphic organizer such as a mind map.
  4. 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:
    1. Stuffy
    2. Sweaty
    3. Awkward
    4. Claustrophobic
    5. Bulky
    6. Stiff
    7. Smelly
    8. Scary
    9. Safe
    10. Comforting
    11. Cool
    12. Uncomfortable
  5. Review your graphic organizer and choose the final information you want to use.
  6. 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?
  7. 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?
  8. Draft your poster and text, then edit carefully, checking spelling, vocabulary, punctuation, grammar, and so forth.
  9. Publish your finished piece, including its visuals (draw, paint, make a collage from magazine images, or pictures from the web, etc.)
  10. 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

Grade 6

Language — Reading

Overall Expectations

  • 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

Overall Expectations

  • 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

Space Suit Hero - Lower Torso Assembly

Lower Torso Assembly

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

Lower Torso Assembly
Photo Credit: NASA

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.


Photo Credit: NASA

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)

Maximum Absorption Garment (MAG)
Photo Credit: NASA

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)

Photo Credit: NASA
Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment 1 Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment 2

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!

EMU has an amazing 14 layers
Photo Credit: NASA

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.