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SpaceX Intros Extravehicular Activity Suit

SpaceX keeps achieving new heights, in this case with astronauts braving the vacuum of space!

Polaris Dawn, the first of the program’s three human spaceflight missions, is targeted to launch to orbit no earlier than summer 2024. During the five-day mission, the crew will perform SpaceX’s first-ever Extravehicular Activity (more commonly known as an EVA or spacewalk) from Dragon, which will also be the first-ever commercial astronaut spacewalk. This historic milestone will also be the first time four astronauts will be exposed to the vacuum of space at the same time.

Supporting the crew throughout the spacewalk will be SpaceX’s newly-developed EVA suit, an evolution of the Intravehicular Activity (IVA) suit crews currently wear aboard Dragon human spaceflight missions. Developed with mobility in mind, SpaceX teams incorporated new materials, fabrication processes, and novel joint designs to provide greater flexibility to astronauts in pressurized scenarios while retaining comfort for unpressurized scenarios. The 3D-printed helmet incorporates a new visor to reduce glare during the EVA in addition to the new Heads-Up Display (HUD) and camera that provide information on the suit’s pressure, temperature, and relative humidity. The suit also incorporates enhancements for reliability and redundancy during a spacewalk, adding seals and pressure valves to help ensure the suit remains pressurized and the crew remains safe.

(Via SpaceX.)

Science fiction authors have a long history of introducing readers to the idea of space suits, the phrase having first been used in The Emperor of the Stars, by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat), published by Wonder Stories in 1931.

Perhaps the earliest reference, with an accompanying illustration, comes from Edison's Conquest of Mars, by Garrett P. Serviss, published by New York Evening Journal in 1898. He referred to it as "air tight dress", using the generic term for a garment from the 19th century:

Provision had been made to meet the terrific cold which we knew would be encountered the moment we had passed beyond the atmosphere—that awful absolute zero which men had measured by anticipation, but never yet experienced—by a simple system of producing within the air-tight suits a temperature sufficiently elevated to counteract the effects of the frigidity without. By means of long, flexible tubes, air could be continually supplied to the wearers of the suits, and by an ingenious contrivance a store of compressed air sufficient to last for several hours was provided for each suit, so that in case of necessity the wearer could throw off the tubes connecting him with the air tanks in the car...

(Read more about the air-tight suit)

Compare to these other early space suit references; the breathing dress from Honeymoon in Space (1901) by George Griffiths, the pneumatic suit from The Shot into Infinity (1929) by Otto Willi Gail, the space suit from The Emperor of the Stars (1931) by Schachner and Zagat, the altitude suit from The Black Star Passes by John W. Campbell, the Osprey Space Armor from Salvage in Space (1933) by Jack Williamson and the space overalls from Lost Rocket (1941) by Manly Wade Wellman.

Here are some additional stories about modern space suits:

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/4/2024)

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