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What's Out There in Outer Space? 5 ... 4 ... 3...2 ... 1!! The Space Shuttle blasts off on another exciting mission into outer space! Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an astronaut on board the Shuttle? Outer space is a strange and dangerous place to visit. In space, there's no air to breathe and temperatures can change quickly. When you face the Sun, the temperature is boiling hot. When you are away from the Sun, it is freezing cold. There is also dust and bits of rock called micrometeroids zooming around at very high speeds. There is almost no gravity in space. So, you would float around without being able to control where you go.

Getting Ready for a "Spacewalk"

Sometimes astronauts need to go outside the Space Shuttle to work on repairs, take photographs, or do experiments. This is called an EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity). To protect them from the many dangers in space, astronauts wear special spacesuits.

Spacesuits are made of many layers and parts. Each has a special job to do to protect the astronaut. One part looks just like long underwear with lots of tubes in it. Cold water running through the tubes keeps the astronaut cool. This is called the LCVG which is short for Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment. The outer sections of the spacesuit are divided into two parts called the Lower Torso and the HUT (Hard Upper Torso). The Lower Torso has soft, flexible pants with boots attached. In the hard fiberglass HUT, astronauts have a food bar and water handy. The spacesuit also contains insulation which keeps the astronaut warm. A spacesuit weighs about 113 kg (250 lbs.) on Earth, but it is almost weightless in space.

The "Flying Armchair" and Other Equipment

The spacesuit also has thick gloves and a helmet with lights. Attached to the spacesuit is a special backpack called the PLSS (Primary Life Support System). This provides oxygen and has instruments to monitor the astronaut's medical condition. Hooked over this is the MMU (Manned Maneuvering Unit). The MMU looks like a "flying armchair." It has special jet thrusters that help the astronauts move around out in space.

You may think of the spacesuit as just special clothing. It's much more than that! It is really a two million dollar, one-person spacecraft!
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Title Annotation:space shuttle travel, using spacesuits during extra-vehicular activity, and other facts about space flight
Publication:Science Weekly
Date:Jan 31, 1996
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