You might have thought that spacesuit was just what astronauts prefer to wear, because their fashion idol is the Michelin man. Then you might be surprised to know that a spacesuit can easily be called “a small spacecraft”, especially by NASA. Did you think that it only provides for the astronaut to breath in the vacuum? Then you may also not know that astronauts have to wear diapers as well as many other things. Yes! That has made me change my mind to be a tin-foiled astronaut this Halloween. These spacesuits have a lot in common with our favorite Iron-Man suit. Let us see!
A spacesuit is a necessity for astronauts for more than one reason as it has a lot of features that helps the astronaut to survive the inhospitable environment in space. The most important feature is the provision of oxygen, along with others, such as a spacesuit holds drinkable water, protects against getting too cold, or too hot. Iron-Man, however, is free from these needs. The spacesuit is practically bulletproof, not meant to protect against alien cavalry, but against the space dust. If the astronauts are not allergic, space dust sounds harmless, no? What makes the space dust not so harmless is the fact that it travels faster than a bullet, hence spacesuit is practically bulletproof.
The fish bowl helmet or the visors of the suit are gold-plated to imitate the gold plated sunglasses. No, it is not because they want aliens to see how rich they are, but to protect their eyes from bright sunlight. Underneath the helmet, communication equipment helps the astronaut to talk with crew members during spacewalks. No Pepper Pots’ Facetime though.
The suit itself is made of different layers of materials, each serving a different purpose. Under the suit, a layer of clothing covers the entire astronaut body minus head, hands, and feet. This layer of clothing has tubes sewn into it; the tubes carry water to keep the body cool. Beat that, Iron-Man!
The backpack that astronauts carry holds the oxygen for breathing and helps to remove carbon dioxide. The drinkable water tank is also there in it. It has an electricity supply as well to run fans which move oxygen through the suit. Iron-man, being the superhero, doesn’t need any of these things at all.
If you are a fan of the Iron-Man suit, you are gonna love this. The back of the spacesuit has numerous small thrust jets called SAFER. The Safer is used if an astronaut drifts away from space station into space as it helps them to fly back.
Every mission has these ‘basic suits’ upgraded uniquely for the environment of the destination, such as some missions use the hose connected to the spacesuit allowing the astronaut very limited room to work, while others do not. The boots of the suit are custom made to cater for the gravity and surface of each destination distinctly. Much like “Iron-man Armour” vs the “War Machine.”
Here are some of the spacesuit parts and their functionality, as described by NASA.