The spacesuit

spacesuit_198x198When examining it thoroughly, we humans will never be able to touch the Moon directly, because even when an astronaut is standing on its surface, there is always the glove of the spacesuit in between, without which, life could not exist on foreign celestial bodies (consider also Mars).

There are a variety of dangers that the spacesuit protects the wearer from: vacuum, cold and heat, weightlessness, micrometeorites and radiation. Hereby, a distinction is made between suits that are only worn inside the space capsule during specific maneuvers, and suits that are used for space walks and actually leave the spacecraft. The most important functions of the spacesuit are the provision and processing of  the air to breathe and the build up of pressure, which balances the missing atmospheric pressure from Earth. The vacuum in space would otherwise lead to the fact that the lungs could not pump enough oxygen into the blood circulation. Besides, the boiling point of liquids decreases drastically, to the point that the blood and all bodily fluids would begin to boil and eventually evaporate …

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So the pressure inside the suit is the be-all and end-all. The problem now lies in the suit becoming very stiff and inflexible with all this pressure. The astronaut is hardly able to move. Developers of spacesuits have been working on this problem since decades and have meanwhile created a mixture of spacesuits, which are as tight and secure as possible and at the same time as soft and flexible as possible. Because the security aspect will always prevail, astronauts will always move awkwardly to some extent. So, no surprise that the Apollo 14 Commander Alan B. Shepard didn’t cut a particularly grand figure when hitting a golf ball one-handedly on the Moon on 6th February 1971.

Further, the spacesuit also protects from the cold (to put it simply, space has a temperature of minus 454 °F) and from overheating of the body. It also shields off radiation and tiny meteorites (up to a few millimeters large, mostly underneath)  – an allround protection package!

On the basis of spacesuits it is nicely portrayed how fragile human life is. And it isn’t just necessary to protect it in space, we have also got our hands full with this here on Earth …

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