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Space Station Extravehicular Activity

Workclothes for Orbit

IMAGE: STS-88 Astronaut James Newman performs EVA
Astronaut Jerry L. Ross, mission specialist, uses artificial light during the second STS-88 spacewalk. Ross is near a Pressurized Module Adapter (PMA) on Endeavour's port side.
In addition to new space walking tools and philosophies for assembly of the International Space Station, space walkers have an enhanced spacesuit. The shuttle spacesuit, or Extravehicular Mobility Unit as it is technically called, was originally designed for sizing and maintenance between flights by skilled specialists on Earth, a difficult if not impossible requirement for astronauts aboard the station.

That same suit has been improved for the International Space Station. The spacesuit can be stored in orbit and is certified for up to 25 space walks before it must be returned to Earth for refurbishment. It can be adjusted in flight to fit different astronauts and be easily cleaned and refurbished between space walks onboard the station. In addition, assembly work on the station is done in much colder temperatures than most space shuttle space walks. Unlike the shuttle, the station cannot be turned to provide the most optimum sunlight to moderate temperatures during a space walk.

IMAGE: Space suit sizing rings
On the right of this image is the old system for spacesuit sizing, which used a fabric segment above the boot that was changed out by ground crews based on the astronaut's leg length. On the left is the new system, which uses interlocking rings that are changed out on orbit.

Enhancements to the suit to better prepare it for assembly and use aboard the station include: easily replaceable internal parts; reusable carbon dioxide removal cartridges; metal sizing rings that allow in-flight suit adjustments to fit different crew members; new gloves with enhanced dexterity; a new radio with more channels to allow up to five people to talk at one time; warmth enhancements such as fingertip heaters and a cooling system shutoff; new helmet-mounted flood and spot lights; and a jet-pack "life jacket" called SAFER to allow an accidentally untethered astronaut to fly back to the station in an emergency.

Why are EVA suits white?

EVA Details
Spacewalk History
IMAGE: First shuttle spacewalk mission
Astronaut Story Musgrave works in the payload bay of the shuttle Challenger during STS-6 on April 7, 1983. This was the first shuttle mission to include a spacewalk.
Related Links
ISS: The NASA Research Plan, an Overview
(Also available as a pdf file - 979k)
Suited for Spacewalking (5.9 Mb PDF)

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 03/04/2004
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