Ever noticed why astronauts have a white and an orange-coloured space suit? Whenever reports regarding a new space mission are covered on television or the Internet, we come across an astronaut’s photo wearing an orange space suit. Like this:
But when NASA shares the actual photos or videos of astronauts visiting space or other planets, they are seen wearing a white and a slightly bulky space suit, like this:
But why do astronauts wear different suits? What's the difference? First things first, there is a proper name name for each of these suits. The orange one is the Advanced Crew Escape Suit (ACES) and the white suit is called the Extravehicular Activity (EVA) suit. And here's what makes them different:
Firstly, the colours are different and there's a reason behind that.
The orange-coloured Advanced Crew Escape Suit (ACES) is the space shuttle ascent and entry suit. It is not just any shade of orange but only the International Orange that is used. This particular colour is highly visible against any kind of landscape, especially in the sea.
The Extravehicular Activity (EVA) suits are bulkier and white in colour. That's because white reflects the strong heat of the sun. Also, it is easily visible against the black expanse of space.
They were both designed for totally different but specific purposes.
ACESs are designed to help astronauts survive in case any accident occurs during the take-off or landing of a space shuttle. The EVAs, on the other hand, are designed specifically for spacewalking.
The orange suit comes with a parachute ripcord and even has a knife in case of emergencies.
ACESs (orange) come with a parachute ripcord to rip open the parachute that sits on the astronaut’s back. It even has a knife to cut the parachute cords should an astronaut get stuck. There is even a life raft that sits on the rear that opens on its own once it comes in contact with water.
The white suit has a water cooling system, necessary for survival in outer space.
The water cooling system in EVA suits works on recycled body sweat to keep an astronaut cool in harsh conditions. It even has an in-suit drink bag filled with water that lasts even a six-hour spacewalk.
The survival kit in the orange suit is somewhat similar to the ones used by hikers.
ACESs are equipped with radio, motion sickness pills, strobe lights, flare kits and mittens because these work perfectly well in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The survival kit in the white suits is more of a primary life support system.
Given the difficult conditions in the space, EVA suits comes with ample supply of oxygen, battery power, and a radio.
So, now you know. It’s not as simple like changing a T-Shirt or getting our jeans on before heading out of the house.