How do they make space­suits air­tight?

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Q&A - LV

Space­suits are made of lots of dif­fer­ent lay­ers that each pro­tect the as­tro­naut from a dif­fer­ent as­pect of the out­side en­vi­ron­ment. Only the in­ner­most layer – known as the blad­der – is air­tight. It’s made of ure­thane-coated ny­lon that has ma­chine-welded seams. The gloves are at­tached us­ing air­tight bear­ings that lock into place but still al­low the hand to be ro­tated. These use pre­cisely ma­chined alu­minium and ti­ta­nium cou­plings with Te­flon coat­ings for lu­bri­ca­tion to pre­vent the met­als cold-weld­ing to­gether in the vac­uum of space. Astro­nauts also breathe pure oxy­gen so the suit can be in­flated at less than a third of nor­mal at­mo­spheric pres­sure. Even so, space­suits aren’t per­fectly air­tight. NASA al­lows the suits used on the ISS to leak up to 100ml of air per minute.

Astro­nauts breathe oxy­gen be­fore and dur­ing a space­walk to rid their bod­ies of ni­tro­gen, which could

form dan­ger­ous bub­bles

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