See what it takes to get into a spacesuit in new NASA time-lapse

If you think getting dressed in the morning can be a challenge, wait until you see what astronaut Peggy Whitson has to go through to wiggle into her "single-person spaceship."

Michael Franco
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Michael Franco
2 min read

Enlarge Image
Putting on a "single-person spaceship" is no small matter. Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET

When you step from one environment to another -- say, from your house to outside -- the most you'd usually have to think about is putting on a coat, hat and gloves or maybe grabbing an umbrella. When astronauts change environments, going from the inside to the outside of the International Space Station, for example, getting suited up is a whole lot more involved.

In a video released by NASA on Monday, you can see just how complicated it is to get gear on if you're a space jockey. The minute-long, time-lapse video shows astronaut Peggy Whitson putting on a full spacesuit in advance of a dip in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory pool at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Although the action in the video is dramatically sped up, a NASA representative told CNET's Crave blog that the actually process takes about 30 minutes.

"It may seem a bit involved," says the NASA description of the video, "but you have to think of the spacesuit as a single-person spaceship, complete with oxygen, temperature control, power, communications, and even an emergency propulsion system."

The Neutral Buoyancy Lab offers a place where astronauts can more or less experience the sense of weightlessness they'll encounter in space by getting submerged in water here on Earth. The lab itself is 202 feet (about 62 meters) long, 102 feet (about 31 meters) wide, and 40 feet (about 12 meters) deep -- with 20 feet above ground level and 20 feet below. It holds 6.2 million gallons (about 23.5 million liters) of water.

The footage of Whitson gearing up for her dip was actually shot in July, but the time-lapse version of it came out on Monday. Whitson has been on the ISS twice and has racked up 377 days in space in total, according to NASA (PDF). She's also undertaken six spacewalks totaling 39 hours and 46 minutes.

Whitson will rocket off to space again in late 2016 as part of Expedition 50/51 to the ISS. She will celebrate her 57th birthday in space.