How NASA Spacesuits Work: EMUs Explained (Infographic)
Many layers and systems combine to keep astronauts alive in the vacuum of space.
Credit: by Karl Tate, Infographics Artist

The Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) allows an astronaut to work outside a spacecraft for up to 7 hours. Russian and Chinese space agencies use different types of spacesuits. The EMU was manufactured by International Latex Corporation (ILC), with a life support system made by Hamilton Standard.

The EMU is a system of variously sized parts that can be combined to size the suit for any astronaut.

A "snoopy cap" holds microphones and headphones. 

A full-body liquid-cooling garment has tubes carrying cool water to remove heat from the astronaut's skin.

Under the cooling garment, the astronaut wears a maximum absorbency garment, or adult diaper, to contain wastes.

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The spacesuit has 14 layers between the astronaut's skin and the vacuum of space. The layers are in three assemblies: the liquid cooling garment to keep the astronaut from overheating, the pressure garment to retain air pressure within the suit and the thermal micrometeoroid garment to reflect the sun’s heat and stop small bits of flying space debris (micrometeoroids).

A hard torso is the core of the suit to which the other parts attach. A 32-ounce (0.95 liter) drink bag within the hard torso provides drinking water during the space walk.

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The primary life support system contains oxygen for a seven-hour spacewalk, also known as an Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA), along with batteries, radio and cooling water. A secondary oxygen pack contains an emergency half-hour supply.

The spacesuit pants have a ring at the waist with bearings to help the astronaut turn his or her body. Red or "candy cane" stripes on the suit help to tell astronauts apart in space.

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The chest-mounted display and control module has switches to allow the astronaut to control oxygen, cooling, radio and other systems. Labels on the front of the pack are written in reverse, so that the astronaut can read them using a wrist-mounted mirror.

The helmet is a clear plastic bubble that contains pressurized oxygen for the astronaut to breathe. The air is circulated through the life support backpack to remove harmful carbon dioxide. 

The visor assembly fits over the helmet and provides cameras, spotlights and a gold-tinted sun visor to protect the astronaut's  vision, as well as cameras and spotlights.

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