Space suits are crucial for keeping crew members alive, and shielding them from the harsh vacuum of space during trips outside the International Space Station. And when we travel beyond lower Earth orbit — perhaps to the Moon or to Mars someday — suits will be a necessary tool. In the season premiere of Space Craft, we dove into the world of space suit design to find out what it takes to make an interplanetary ensemble.
As it turns out, it’s no easy feat. Making a space suit is an incredibly complex design process, involving the interplay of hundreds of different materials — from aluminum alloys to flexible textiles. And a life-support system that circulates oxygen through the suit basically has to sit on the astronaut’s back. “It’s very difficult to contain a human inside basically what is a bag full of oxygen,” says Pablo de León, director of the space suit laboratory at the University of North Dakota.
SPACE SUITS ARE AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE ASTRONAUT EXPERIENCE