History of U.S. Space Suits

This page contains a graphical history of the space suits used by NASA. The manned space programs, in chronological order, covered are:

Dot Project Mercury
Dot Project Gemini
Dot Project Apollo
Dot Space Shuttle

Project Mercury

Initiated in 1958, completed in 1963, Project Mercury was the United States' first man-in-space program. The objectives of the program, which made six manned flights from 1961 to 1963, were specific:

Enos, a chimpanzee,
in his custom-designed space suit.

Mercury space suit components

Survival kit used by Mercury astronauts

Food package used by Mercury astronauts

Group portrait of Mercury Program astronauts

Astronaut Alan P. Shepard, Jr. in his Mercury pressure suit

Project Gemini

The second U.S. manned space program was announced in January 1962. Its two-man crew gave it its name, Gemini, for the third constellation of the Zodiac and its twin stars, Castor and Pollux. Gemini involved 12 flights, including two unmanned flight tests of the equipment.

Like Mercury's, its major objectives were clear-cut:

Gemini astronauts in full pressure suits.

Astronaut Walter Schirra in the Gemini VI spacecraft.

Food packets for use on Gemini spacecraft.

Project Apollo

The Apollo Program spanned five years, from 1967 to 1972 and included 12 manned flights. Although it is well known for its lunar landings, Project Apollo's goals went beyond landing Americans on the Moon and returning them safely to Earth:

Artist's concept of prototype Apollo space suit

Space suit A-3H-024 with Lunar Excursion
Module astronaut restraint harness

Test subject wears overgarment designed for use on lunar surface

Test subject models uprated Apollo A6L pressure suit

Cutaway of life support pack for Apollo space suit

Astronaut John Bull wears the A6-L type pressure Garmet Assembly

Two astronauts check the mobility of two different types of Apollo space suits

Astronaut John Bull wears newly designed Apollo pressure suit

The Apollo space suit.

Space Shuttle

The United State's current Space Transporation System, a.k.a. the Space Shuttle, was first launched in 1981. To date, it has logged more than 70 missions with a variety of focuses including life sciences and interplanetary exploration.

A Shuttle astronaut practices donning an EVA suit in a weightless environment aboard NASA's KC-135 aircraft.

A Shuttle astronaut receives assistance while donning an EVA suit.

A Shuttle astronaut donning a dark green "G suit."

Man-Vehicle Laboratory
MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
17 March 1997