Fresh from showing us around the International Space Station’s (ISS) Columbus module, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet has just shared another video offering a close look at the spacesuits that crew members use for spacewalks.
Speaking from the ISS airlock used by NASA astronauts immediately before and after a spacewalk, Pesquet focuses on the myriad of components that make up the spacesuit.
They include a chest-mounted panel that allow the astronaut to maintain communications during walks that can last as long as eight hours. The panel also controls the ventilation and water systems (check out the undergarment that’s part of the kit) that enable the astronaut to maintain a comfortable temperature, with everything powered by computer systems located in the suit’s backpack.
Pesquet, who himself has participated in five spacewalks across two missions, points out that only the spacesuit’s gloves are customized for each astronaut. “The suit can be adapted but the gloves are really personalized … which allows us to keep a certain dexterity, a certain mobility,” the astronaut says in the video.
Pesquet also focuses on the suit’s helmet, which features cameras, a lighting system, and the so-called “golden visor” that comes down to shield an astronaut’s eyes from harsh sunlight. Orbiting our planet at around 17,000 mph at an altitude of 250 miles means that spacewalkers experience a constant cycle of 45 minutes of light followed by 45 minutes of dark, with astronauts activating the golden visor when necessary.
Look out for the all-important tethers, too, which astronauts use to secure their tools while working outside the space station. “The astronaut’s biggest concern, biggest fear, is to let something slip out in the void,” Pesquet comments.
The astronaut gives the tour in his native tongue, so if you’d like English subtitles then simply hit the “CC” button on YouTube’s video player.
Spacewalks are a big part of life on the ISS, each one involving crucial work to maintain or fix current components, or add new parts to the orbiting outpost.
The extravehicular activities — to give spacewalks their official name — can produce some breathtaking imagery, too. Check out this collection of spacewalk photos to see exactly what we mean.