pressure suits

The NASA Village

Today in the NASA Village… A Hand in Everything.

Our 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 “walking.”

With the 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.  

How do you make custom gloves?

Bobby 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.”

This scary 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.

Then with 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.  

The space 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!

There are other layers of protective material over the inner bladder, which is why you see the white fabric on the outer surface.

Fun 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!


     No cockpit demands as much intense focus as an SR-71 Blackbird’s, and in frustrating irony, no cockpit offers a better view. There was no time to look out the window. The plane knew when your eyes started to wander to the spectacle of earth from 85,000 feet; that’s when something would go wrong. There was much to monitor. The many “steam gauge” instruments reflect a bygone era, giving the pilot information ranging from heading to compressor inlet temperature, each dial representing a critically important system.

      Even though this cockpit was operated through 2,854 flight hours, it looks brand new. That’s because it was only ever flown using the gloved hands of a crew member wearing the essential high altitude pressure suit. Every control is large enough to be adjusted with those bulky pressure suit gloves. 

     You sit atop your throne, the SR-1 ejection seat, which carries a rare 100% success rate. To operate the circuit breakers, you must reach beside and behind your seat, outside your field of view through the pressure suit helmet. To make sure you actuate the correct breaker, you count down the rows and columns by feel.

     March Field Air Museum in Riverside, California, is kind enough to display SR-71A 17975 with her cockpit open. This gives us a rare peek inside the world of the Blackbird, allowing us to look inside something that was formerly top secret and reserved only for a privileged few crew members. These photos were captured using a camera extended into the cockpit via monopod. At no point did I or my equipment come in contact with the artifact.

Pressure Suit

At his protest of what she wanted she merely shook her head. “Nope. I need to do this press conference now before I lose what I have to say.” she rolled his eyes at Robin’s distaste at Burger King but he was right. She did have standards after all. “Fine. In n’Out it is. While Happy is doing that I need you to set up the press conference.”

She gave Happy a nod as he opened the door for them and she quickly got inside. God how she had missed this car. She got herself comfortable and she let her damaged arm rest against her chest as she looked towards Robin. “Well then are you going to get the press conference together or shall I?”

While he didn’t agree with the plan he knew that she had to get things off her chest before the moment passed. Genius minds are constantly busy shifting from one thing to the next and thus why he’s needed. He keeps track of everything that’s going on, needs to be done, and can remind Regina of important tasks that need to be completed. Often times reminding her to stop for a bite to eat or to get at least a few hours sleep. “Though I protest I’ll get it done, Regina. Just relax and let me work my magic.”

He shook his head, “Shush. Sit there and relax till you can order a staggering amount of takeaway and leave the work to me.” Robin was already sending out messages to get people to Mills Industries conference room asap and once the texts had gone out he started calling around while Happy drove to the  burger place and made sure that Regina could just lower the window and shout out what she wanted. The driver felt like his friends hadn’t skipped a beat and were already back to a familiar routine.


The volus are an associate race on the Citadel with their own embassy, but are also a client race of the turians. They hail from Irune, which possesses a high-pressure greenhouse atmosphere able to support an ammonia-based biochemistry. As a result, the volus must wear pressure suits and breathers when dealing with other species. The Mass Effect Trilogy marks volus that had a direct or close to direct impact on gameplay, story, or interaction as “Notable Volus.” The CDN (2185-2186), however provides a number of in canon volus that did not have a direct impact if any on the game, deemed “Un-Notable (but still interesting and important) Volus.”

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Space Station Research: Cardiovascular Health

Each month, we highlight a different research topic on the International Space Station. In February, our focus is cardiovascular health, which coincides with the American Hearth Month.

Like bones and muscle, the cardiovascular system deconditions (gets weaker) in microgravity. Long-duration spaceflight may increase the risk of damage and inflammation in the cardiovascular system primarily from radiation, but also from psychological stress, reduced physical activity, diminished nutritional standards and, in the case of extravehicular activity, increased oxygen exposure.

Even brief periods of exposure to reduced-gravity environments can result in cardiovascular changes such as fluid shifts, changes in total blood volume, heartbeat and heart rhythm irregularities and diminished aerobic capacity.

The weightless environment of space also causes fluid shifts to occur in the body. This normal shift of fluids to the upper body in space causes increased inter-cranial pressure which could be reducing visual capacity in astronauts. We are currently testing how this can be counteracted by returning fluids to the lower body using a “lower body negative pressure” suit, also known as Chibis.

Spaceflight also accelerates the aging process, and it is important to understand this process to develop specific countermeasures. Developing countermeasures to keep astronauts’ hearts healthy in space is applicable to heart health on Earth, too!

On the space station, one of the tools we have to study heart health is the ultrasound device, which uses harmless sound waves to take detailed images of the inside of the body. These images are then viewed by researchers and doctors inside Mission Control. So with minimal training on ultrasound, remote guidance techniques allow astronauts to take images of their own heart while in space. These remote medicine techniques can also be beneficial on Earth.

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Wearable tech that alerts you to injuries, inspired by a paralympian, this week on the Design & Violence blog. 

[Lucy Jung, Daniel Garrett, Ming Kong, Elena Dieckmann. Innovation Design Engineering Program. Royal College of Art. Imperial College London. Bruise, the Injury Detection Suit. Pressure-sensitive film embedded in sportswear. Project sponsor: Rio Tinto Sports Challenge. Images courtesy the designers]

Admiral Trench, a Harch male, was a feared and legendary commander for the Corporate Alliance and the Confederacy of Independent Systems, whose extensive naval career spanned several decades. A veteran of countless conflicts, Trench gained fame during the Andoan Wars, first defending his homeworld of Secundus Ando and then spearheading a counteroffensive against the Andoan Free Colonies. A master strategist, he became known as Ando’s greatest military leader and accumulated an undefeated record, eventually coming to serve the Corporate Alliance. His tactics were ruthlessly efficient, and he became feared by his enemies, whether they were pirates or veteran officers from the Galactic Republic. In 34 BBY, Trench masterminded the Alliance’s blockade of the Malastare Narrows and, in the ensuing Battle of Malastare Narrows, nearly eradicated an entire Republic Navy task force under the command of Captain Wullf Yularen. When Jedi-led reinforcements arrived, Trench’s flagship was destroyed and the admiral himself presumed dead, but he survived thanks to a pressure suit and his natural toughness as a Harch.


Barba looks t  i  n  y  in the first photo 😂 😂 😂

Also, I think I’ve found my new favourite outfit. That gorgeous black suit with the blue checkered t-shirt is just 😍