Space wear: Astronaut fashion through the years (pictures)

The evolution of space suits has gone from tin foil-like aircraft jumpsuits, to experimental hard shells, and now the next generation of versatile space wear.

James Martin
1 of 15 NASA

A converted high-altitude aircraft pressure suit

Gordon Cooper, one of the original seven Mercury astronauts in 1959, is seen here in an early generation space suit -- a crude, tin foil-like converted US Navy high-altitude jet aircraft pressure suit, with an outer layer of aluminized nylon.

Space suits have gone through regular upgrades and innovations through the years, adding features built with new materials to give astronauts the protection and comfort they need during launch and re-entry, performing spacewalks at the International Space Station, or walking on the moon.
2 of 15 NASA

John Glenn's Mercury space suit

John Glenn, who later wore a space shuttle suit, appears in his Mercury space suit.
3 of 15 NASA

Neil Armstrong's Gemini G-2C

Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, seen here in a Gemini G-2C training suit.
4 of 15 NASA

G3C space suits

In 1965, Gus Grissom and John Young flew the first Gemini mission. The G3C space suits required them to carry portable air conditioners.
5 of 15 NASA

Manned Maneuvering Unit

In February 1984, Bruce McCandless became the first astronaut to float in space untethered, thanks to a jetpack-like device called the Manned Maneuvering Unit, or MMU.

Updated December 14, 2013 to correctly identify the astronaut.
6 of 15 NASA

Apollo A7L

The Apollo A7L space suit worn by astronaut Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11 in 1969.
7 of 15 NASA

Ejection escape suit

When the first shuttle flight, STS-1, lifted off on April 12, 1981, astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen wore the ejection escape suit modeled here. It's a modified version of a US Air Force high-altitude pressure suit.
8 of 15 NASA

An Apollo space suit

Alan Shepard, who was the first American in space and later flew to the moon, tries on an Apollo space suit.
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Orange launch and entry gear

The orange launch and entry gear worn on the space shuttle is nicknamed the "pumpkin suit."
10 of 15 NASA

Russian Orlan space suit

Astronaut Edward Fincke, Expedition 9 NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer, wearing a Russian Orlan space suit, participates in the third of four sessions of extravehicular activities (EVA) performed by the Expedition 9 crew during their six-month mission.
11 of 15 NASA

AX-5 hard-shell space suit

An experimental AX-5 hard-shell space suit from NASA is seen here in a photo from 1998.
12 of 15 NASA

NASA lunar robot demonstration

This is what one "astronaut of the future" looked like during a NASA lunar robot demonstration at Moses Lake, Wash., in 1998.
13 of 15 NASA

Z-1 space suit

This Z-1 is a new space suit prototype, seen here in an image released late last year, which might be put into use as early as 2015. Z-1 is the first prototype in the next-generation design, a versatile suit which reinvents the ways astronauts experience space that is being developed under NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems' suit project.
14 of 15 University of Maryland's Space Systems Laboratory


The MX-2 is a forward-looking ongoing research project, constantly evolving and improving. Many research papers have been published about the MX-2, including at the International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES), the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) and at AIAA conferences. These papers highlight the use of the MX-2 as a tool to investigate advanced space suit technologies and to research human-robotic interaction. Many of these papers can be found here.
15 of 15 Photo Credit: Professor Dava Newman: Inventor, Science Engineering; Guillermo Trotti, A.I.A., Trotti and Associates, Inc. (Cambridge, MA): Design; Dainese (Vincenca, Italy): Fabrication; Douglas Sonders: Photography

And next, the Bio-Suit?

Bio-Suit is a "second skin" futuristic space activity suit designed to facilitate movement that's under development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Bio-Suit is custom fit to each wearer, using laser body scanning, and incorporates wearable technologies, with hardware and software suited to each mission.

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