When space mission Apollo 11 first landed on the moon in 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin donned a spacesuit that was capable of withstanding the moon’s temperatures and rough terrain. Since then, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has designed multiple spacesuits that enable astronauts to traverse terrains in the frontiers of space.
Beginning in 1934, the prototype suit called Winnie Mae was created by American aviator Wiley Post. Famous for being the first pilot to fly around the world alone, his high-altitude travels inspired him to create a cotton and rubber suit that carried him nearly 50,000 feet high in the air. 30 years later in 1965, spacesuit designs would drastically improve to become the Gemini. As the first suit to be worn outside a spacecraft, the Gemini provided astronauts with oxygen through a hose connected to the ships’ hull. If ever disconnected, the suit could provide up to 30 minutes of life support.
The monumental Apollo 11 mission required an outfit more advanced and durable than any model before. NASA’s Apollo Spacewalk Suit in 1969 allowed astronauts to safely detach from the aircraft for hours of exploration around the satellite. The suit was customized to handle temperature swings, had the flexibility to install gear and pick up moon rocks, and contained an advanced life support system for its user.
Similarly, the present Extravehicular Mobility Unit (Shuttle/ISS) since 1983 is used by NASA in the International Space Station. With more advanced technology being implemented into these planetary suits, NASA hopes to be fully prepared to open the horizon for galactic travel – to planets known and unknown.