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Spacesuits

A fully equipped spacesuit is essentially a one-person spacecraft that protects astronauts from the extreme environment of space while they are are performing a spacewalk.

NASA astronaut and Expedition 68 Flight Engineer Nicole Mann is pictured in her Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or spacesuit, during her second spacewalk

International Space Station

The largest, most complex international construction project in space, the International Space Station, was designed and built by engineers thousands of miles apart on Earth — and assembled in space thanks to the daring of spacewalking astronauts. In 1998, the STS-88 crew aboard Endeavour conducted three spacewalks kickstarting the station’s assembly sequence, attaching cables, connectors, and handrails to mate the two modules — Zarya and Unity — forming the embryonic orbiting laboratory. Spacewalking was the essential element that moved the incredible journey of orbital assembly, operations, and science from blueprint to reality. For more than 40 years, NASA astronauts have performed spacewalks outside the space station for maintenance and upgrades while wearing the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuit design that debuted during the Space Shuttle Program in the 1980s. Spacewalks are some of the most physically and mentally demanding tasks an astronaut can do, with each excursion typically six to eight hours in duration. Since station’s inception, there have been more than 250 spacewalks at the laboratory in low Earth orbit, and that number grows every year as maintenance and discovery power on. 

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NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins in a spacesuit outside of the International Space Station during a spacewalk.
On Dec. 24, 2013, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins participates in the second of two spacewalks, spread over a four-day period, which were designed to allow the crew to change out a faulty water pump on the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station.
NASA/Mike Hopkins

Commercial Spacesuit Providers

NASA is partnering with commercial providers Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace to provide next-generation spacesuits perfectly suited to NASA’s expanded mission portfolio. Expanding the commercial space services market is an important element of NASA's long-term goals of exploration in low Earth orbit and in deep space, including the Moon and Mars.

Latest Spacesuit News

Stay up-to-date with the latest spacesuit news from NASA's Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility Program.

NASA Tests Technology, Practices Artemis Moonwalks in Arizona Desert
4 min read

To prepare for exploring the Moon during NASA’s Artemis campaign, the agency is conducting a week-long field test in the…

Article
Next-Gen Suit for NASA’s Work for Space Station Missions Debuts
4 min read

A next-generation spacesuit – in effect an astronaut’s personal spaceship – will advance NASA’s spacewalking capabilities in low Earth orbit…

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Spacesuit for NASA’s Artemis III Moon Surface Mission Debuts
4 min read

When NASA sends the first astronauts to explore near the lunar South Pole, moonwalkers will wear spacesuits provided by Axiom…

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Learn about the most commonly used tools astronauts use when performing a spacewalk from NASA astronaut Woody Hoburg. Credits: NASA/Woody Hoburg.

History

Early Spacesuits

Early attempts at pressure suits stemmed from the recognition that piston engine aircraft using turbochargers were able to fly at altitudes that now posed new dangers for pilots.

As the agency began to plan for space exploration, NASA needed to transition from full-pressure suits to spacesuits, which were a significant step in protecting humans. 

Learn More about Early Spacesuits
Astronauts standing in front of shuttle
1961 — The first three Americans in space, Mercury astronauts, from the left, John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil I. (Gus) Grissom and Alan B. Shepard Jr. standing by Redstone rocket in their spacesuits.

Podcasts

Learn more about NASA's spacesuits from Houston We Have a Podcast episodes.

Houston We Have a Podcast thumbnail for Ep. 280: Suit Up for Mars featuring two astronauts working on Mars.

Suit Up for Mars

Hear from a spacesuit systems engineer who explains what will be needed in the design and operation of a spacesuit on the Red Planet.

Houston We Have a Podcast thumbnail for Ep. 247: Spacesuits and Rovers featuring a silhouette of an astronaut wearing an exploration spacesuit on the Moon.

Spacesuits and Rovers

Lara Kearney explains the goals of a new program at NASA that is working with industry and international partners on future spacesuits and rovers.

Artemis Spacesuits

Chris Hansen talks about the next generation of spacesuits that will be used during the Artemis Program. 

Houston We Have a Podcast thumbnail for Ep. 16: Spacesuits featuring an astronaut in a spacesuit during a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station.

Spacesuits

Les Padilla talks about spacesuits: how they work, what they're made of, how they've evolved over time, and what they'll look like in the future.