What Are Space Suits Made Of?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Apr 5, 2020 8:36:35 AM ET
Cristiano Betta/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

Also called Extravehicular Mobility Units, spacesuits are pressurized garments made of various soft and hard tailor-made components, such as synthetic polymers, nylon, spandex, dacron, urethane-coated nylon, neoprene-coated nylon and polyester. The layers of a spacesuit are sewn and cemented together. It has 13 layers of material that include an inner cooling garment, pressure garment, thermal micrometeoroid garment and outer cover.

Nylon tricot material makes up the innermost layer of a spacesuit. Another layer is made of spandex, which is an elastic wearable polymer. Urethane-coated nylon and dacron, which is a type of polyester, are used for a pressure-restraining layer. Spacesuits are also made of synthetic fabrics, such as Nomex, Kevlar, Gor-Tex, aluminized Mylar and neoprene.

Aside from synthetic fibers, raw materials are also used. Fiberglass is used in constructing the hard upper torso segment while lithium hydroxide is utilized in creating the filter that gets rid of water vapor and carbon dioxide during a space walk. Spacesuits are powered by a battery that is made of a blend of silver zinc. A fabric that transports cooling water in the suit is woven with plastic tubing. The shell of the helmet is made of polycarbonate.

Spacesuits are assembled at the headquarters of the National Aeronautics Space Agency in Houston. During space flights, they protect astronauts from potentially damaging conditions, and they serve as mobility aides when astronauts take a space walk outside spacecraft.