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.