spacesuits are built up from various piece parts, torso, arms with sizing
rings, legs with sizing rings, boots, helmet, and gloves. The variation of the
different pieces allows the engineers to construct a suit from generic hardware
that fits, or at least come as close as they can make it. One of the most
important elements of a spacesuit are our gloves. They are the only piece
tailored specifically for us. Spacewalking is a bit of a misnomer on the
International Space Station, since we don’t do any walking. We are floating and
have to use our hands as the means for moving ourselves from place to place. This
sped up example of one of my pool runs demonstrates this form of space
increased pressure of the suit (to protect our bodies from the vacuum of space)
and all the operations with our hands, it can be very fatiguing. Hence, the
custom gloves allow us to work for longer periods of time, with much more
dexterity for repairs.
do you make custom gloves?
Jones literally had a hand in everything, because his work included making my
space suit gloves. He noted that “as part of the process, we traveled to
Houston to make casts of the astronaut’s hands for use in the design process. The
hand casts are very life like. When I
had these hands all over my office it looked like a zombie movie, where the
dead are coming back to life and digging their way out of the ground.”
looking hand looks familiar! Using the hand molds, the engineers make the
design requirements for each aspect of the glove. They determine the EXACT
dimensions that are required in order to have the knuckles bend in just the
right places, with just enough spacing to allow the hands to flex more easily,
but snug enough to provide the needed dexterity.
those very precise patterns, the fingers and palm are hand-sewn within tenths
of millimeters of margin!
Olga Bustos is shown sewing the fingers of a glove. She has been
sewing gloves since the Apollo days and even participated in the construction
of Apollo era space suits.
suit has to be pressure-tight. In other words, while working in the vacuum of
space, we don’t want any leaks! The inner lining of the suit is cut according
to a very specific pattern and then the pieces are heat sealed together to form
the barrier that protects us from the vacuum. You can see the yellow inner
bladder being heat sealed by Whitney Lowery. You might be surprised that her
degree is in fashion design!
other layers of protective material over the inner bladder, which is why you
see the white fabric on the outer surface.
facts you may not have known about spacesuits: The space suit
weights 250 lbs with the backpack.
The suit components come in sizes like medium, large
and extra-large. (Females have to work that much harder in a spacesuit because
of all the extra room).
The suits are all hand sewn on old sewing machines.
The gloves take 14 months to design and build.
Engineering is a good start, but they don’t teach
space suit design in college. Get exposed to as many things as possible if you
want to work on spacesuits someday.
Do you want more
stories? Find our NASA Villagers here!
The first American to orbit the Earth has died. John Glenn was the last surviving member of the original Mercury astronauts. He would later have a long political career as a U.S. senator, but that didn’t stop his pioneering ways.
Glenn made history a second time in 1998, when he flew aboard the shuttle Discovery to become the oldest person to fly in space. Glenn was 95; he had been hospitalized in Columbus, Ohio, since last week.
Glenn had been battling health issues since a stroke a few years ago. His death was confirmed Thursday by This was confirmed to NPR by Hank Wilson, communications director of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University.