December 8, 2014

What Will Astronauts Wear to Mars? Orange, and White with a Twist.

Join me on a tour of NASA as I get an insiders scoop on what has been, is, and may be worn into the depths of outer space.


Inside the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) which has also been used to shoot movies like Transformers III

This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

- Neil Armstrong



Welcome to a new kind of space race.
December 4, 2014 was the day set for the largest rocket in existence to take it's first test flight into space. More details on the Delta IV operations on a previous post here.


We all eagerly awaited the launch scheduled for 7:05 - however, like most space travel...nothing really goes exactly as planned. The beautiful and quiet sunset was interrupted by loudspeakers announcing a delay due to a ship in the water, causing a re-set of launch operations.


So we hung out in the press area and watched the sun come up... with it's beautiful sky changing color and the heat of Florida emerging with it.

Matthew Parker - @MattAttackPro
While anticipating the launch, I admired some of my comrades launch fashion.  Fellow micro-blogger Matthew Parker was particularly dapper in a NASA-inspired handcrafted bow tie.


Here comes the sun...Florida is hot, then cool again - but I wondered, what must it be like to be in the temperatures ranging from +250ºF in sunlight to -200ºF in shadow in space, and what technology is used to make sure the astronauts are comfortable?



Here is a quick peek into the past:

Metallics are back for this Winter, but no one can pull it off as well as these guys
This is one of the first Gemini Spacesuits (pictured above and below) worn for for launch, in-flight activities and landing. These were also the suits that allowed American astronauts to walk in space for the first time in 1965.

  The suit consisted of six layers of nylon and Nomex. Suit also contained multiple layers of Mylar insulation for temperature control. An outer layer of Chromel R fabric was later added for additional protection Detachable gloves with improved locking rings that allow easy rotation of the wrists
Removable combat-style boots made of Nomex fabric, along with a full-pressure helmet with a gold plate cover and containing a set of noise-cancelling earphones in the back and microphones in the front
An outer layer of Chromel R fabric was later added for additional protection. This is a Close-up of the woven metal
 If you're totally into metallics right now and thinking about some extravagant Christmas shopping, Alan Shepard's Gemini spacesuit is being auctioned off for close to 200K.

Alan Shepard - looking great in Gemini metallic.
The color of Aerospace International Orange is used for safety and visibility. Believe it or not, the color orange is really making its comeback. After 1998, this suit in International Orange  became the only suit used during launch and re-entry on the Space Shuttle, and is still used today.

The Advanced Crew Escape pressure suits worn by NASA astronauts. Also referred to as the "pumpkin suit"
The orange color allows rescue units to easily spot the astronauts in the case of an Orbiter bailout over the ocean. Underneath the suits, astronauts wear blue-colored thermal underwear, which has plastic tubing woven into the garments which allows liquid cooling and ventilation.

 Cargo Pants with an actual purpose - here is what's in the "Left Leg Surviaval Gear Pocket":
  • Strobe light visible up to 50 miles,
  • 2 Glow sticks
  • Flare kit with seven cartridges
  • 1 survival mitten (yes only one)
Boots: Cute AND functional with built-in protection

Then of course there is Apollo Spacesuit to be worn outside of the aircraft. Reffered to as a Human-Shaped Spacecraft and a Space Tuxedo, because each part of the spacesuit sizes could be mixed and matched to create a better fit for each astronaut.

Apollo - Past




 Apollo Spacesuit Challenge: 
Design a spacesuit that would endure temperatures ranging from +250F to -200F. It had to protect against ultraviolet radiation and micrometeorites and seal out the vacuum of space while still allowing the astronauts to carry out their mission.

Lunar Wardrobe Specifications:
A liquid-cooled undergarment made of knitted nylon-spandex with 265 feet of plastic thing was used to circulate cooking water from the portable life support system An outer pressure gament (spaccesuit) of 18 layers included a helmet and gloves and provided meteorite and thermal protection.
The elbows, shoulders, wrist, knee, waist and ankle joints were rubber-coated allowing the astronauts limited movement for working on the moon. Caps worn under the helmet had microphones and earphones. On later flights, a quart bag of drinking water was attached inside the helmet. The gloves had fingertips made of silicon rubber to provide increased sensitivity.
Since the Apollo they've made a few upgrades for the Orion missions. Full details are not disclosed at this time, and Dava Newman from MIT is creating leaps and bounds within the arena of discovery (see older post here) but there is still much work ahead.

Orion's Future.
Ready for take off. 


Who's on board the Mars One Mission with me? Let me know if you're brave enough to take your chances up there.

-XO Julia

Thanks for reading! These opinions are all my own. Follow live updates on my Instagram and Twitter.

References: NASA Keneddy // Alan Shepard - Photo credit: http://bit.ly/12YcGh6