We have the question Time to prepare for EVA out of ISS that has a good and complete answer about the hours to days long process to prepare for an EVA from the ISS. My question is just about getting into a suit the fastest.

There are a lot of variables, full gravity, micro gravity, suit style, pre-fitted vs first use, available assistance, and probably other I have not considered. While all that the prep for an ISS EVA is important, some people like to compete, I imagine that there has been study and competition for space suit donning time. This question seeks to identify speed for a Le Mans start

When the French flag dropped to signify the start, the drivers ran across the track, entered and started their cars without assistance, and drove away.

When it comes to donning safety gear competition is a frequent tool used for building muscle memory. Anyone who has been in the military has donned their gas protective gear multiple times in a race against the clock and their peers.

So in my hypothetical scenario we have two or three astronauts, who are competing for fastest suit donning. They talk among themselves, each picking the their preferred suit, it is theirs and fits perfect, they agree on a venue (the ISS or Earth, or whatever) and agree to have some number (maybe zero) of assistants for each of them.

The winner must be safely and fully suited, vacuum ready, and move under their own power some short distance to a finish point (airlock?)

Where do they decide to have the contest? What type of suit do they pick? Do they have help? Who wins?


2 Answers 2


The “entry-exit” time in the Orlan-M spacesuit is 2 ... 3 minutes (without outside help). But this does not make practical sense if the spacesuit and the crew of the station are not prepared for work.

Each spacewalk is the result of long and painstaking work. Preparation for spacewalk begins at the station in two to three weeks and goes in several directions. First of all, we are preparing Orlan spacesuits. It is necessary to install replaceable elements, adjust the suit for yourself, dry it, prepare ordinary and special linen, water-cooling suits. Everything that you will go out in must be carefully checked. The suit should sit as comfortably as possible, not rub, fit in size. It is extremely easy to make a mistake with the size, and the payback for it will be very difficult.

The day is coming when it is necessary to go into space. Everything has already been repeated a hundred times, everything has already been prepared in my head. Morning comes, and everyone begins to work intensively and painstakingly. All operations, and this is about 15 critical operations before locking and opening the exit hatch, are clearly defined for each crew member. What kind of work is this? These are the final checks of the suits, equipment, communications, medical parameters. Lunch is a must, without it anywhere! Dressing. Checking equipment. Closing hatches. And - access to outer space! http://www.gctc.ru/main.php?id=2246


Astronauts universally don their spacesuits during prebreathing procedures, so they cannot accelerate the process by donning the suit faster. There is also no reason to don particularly quickly, unlike the situation when donning BCN protection equiment. In fact, going quickly is discouraged as it is more likely to lead to mistakes.

Also, on the ISS they don their suits while already inside the airlock.

  • $\begingroup$ If the pressure inside the ISS is higher as inside the suit and if the atmosphere contains more than a small amount of nitrogen, prebreathing pure oxygen is a necessary procedure to avoid decompression sickness caused by pressure drop and the nitrogen soluted in the blood. The next available decompression chamber for hyperbaric oxygen treatment is several hundreds of kilometers and a lot of hours away. Therefore carefull prebreathing is essential to avoid decompression sickness. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Mar 4, 2017 at 21:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is not the answer this question is looking for. It is brief restating of the accepted answer in the related question linked to in the opening sentence of this question. $\endgroup$ Mar 5, 2017 at 11:40
  • $\begingroup$ But what if such a contest for the fastest donning of a space suit does not make sense? It is not like a contest for donning a suit on earth with no life support system at all. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Mar 6, 2017 at 17:16

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