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What Is a Spacesuit? (Grades K-4)

This article is for students grades K-4.

A spacesuit is more than clothes astronauts wear in space. The suit is really a small spacecraft. It protects the astronaut from the dangers of being outside in space.

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan is pictured tethered to the International Space Station while finalizing thermal repairs on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a dark matter and antimatter detector, during a spacewalk that lasted 6 hours and 16 minutes.

Why Do Astronauts Need Spacesuits?

Spacesuits help astronauts in many ways. The suits protect astronauts from getting too hot or cold. Spacesuits also give astronauts oxygen to breathe while they are working in space. The suits hold water to drink. They also keep astronauts from getting hurt by space dust. Space dust may not sound very dangerous. But when it moves faster than a bullet, the dust can hurt someone. The suits even have special gold-lined visors to protect eyes from bright sunlight.

Expedition 59 Flight Engineers Christina Koch of NASA and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos ready a pair of Russian Orlan spacesuits inside the Pirs docking compartment's airlock. Ovchinin and Commander Oleg Kononenko are due to conduct the fourth spacewalk of 2019 for space station maintenance on May 29.

What Are the Parts of a Spacesuit?

A spacesuit is made up of many parts. One part covers the astronaut’s chest. Another part covers the arms and connects to the gloves. The helmet protects the head. And the last part covers the astronaut’s legs and feet. Some parts of the suit are made of many layers of material. Each layer does something different. Some keep oxygen in the suit while others protect astronauts from space dust.

Under the suit, astronauts wear another piece of clothing. It covers their body except for the head, hands and feet. Tubes are woven into it. Water flows through the tubes to keep the astronaut cool.

On the back of the spacesuit is a backpack. The backpack holds oxygen so astronauts can breathe. It also removes carbon dioxide that astronauts have breathed out. The backpack also supplies electricity for the suit. A fan moves the oxygen through the spacesuit. A water tank holds the cooling water.

Connected to the back of the suit is a tool called SAFER. SAFER has several small thruster jets. If an astronaut floated away from the space station, he or she could use SAFER to fly back.

More About Spacesuits

Celebrating 50 Years of Spacesuits, Featuring the Early Pressure Suits
What Is a Spacewalk?

Read What Is a Spacesuit? (Grades 5-8)