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The only hard shell space suit I know of, NASA''s AX-5, was big, bulbous, and seems to be not very comfortable, although offering zero pre breathing, when entering the suit. What I am thinking, is if the hard shell design can be made into tight fitting suit, that will really feel like a suit, not like a personal spaceship that happens to have limbs.

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    $\begingroup$ If the suit pressure is 1 bar (zero prebreathing), what about the hands? Gloves would need too much force, pliers are possible. All joints should volume constant during movement. If the torso part of the hard shell is too tight, breathing may be impaired. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Sep 24 '18 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ This question seems perfectly clear to me. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 25 '18 at 3:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe Gloves would require too much force if they were actually from soft material, not bult with joints and rigid materials, right? The AX line of suits actually had gloves iirc. Also, it is not impossible to use man amplifiers here. The torso part of course must be big enough to allow breathing, that's not even a question. $\endgroup$ – Mranderson Sep 25 '18 at 7:53
  • $\begingroup$ See wikipedia for an atmospheric diving suit. Note the many rotatory joints at arms and legs necessary for a great range of mobility. All joints should have constant volume during movement. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Sep 25 '18 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ If gloves would be with joints and rigid materials, all joints should move with constant volume. If the volume of the glove changes with movement of the hands, the pressure inside will force the joints into the maximum volume position. But constant volume joints with full flexibilty of each finger will be very difficult if not impossible to realize. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Sep 25 '18 at 19:32
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I don't see how this could be done. Your body does not have a constant volume: every time you move, muscles have to flex, changing their volume. So the rigid plates have to be linked by flexible insets. When you move, your skin will move relative to these plates, creating friction. That's not going to be comfortable.

Breathing is another problem. If you specify a rigid torso big enough to breathe in, the torso has to be pressurized, and you need seals between the torso and your arms and legs. I can't find a place for those seals where you body won't move around, and rubbing against seals pressurized on one side isn't going to be comfortable.

When you make a glove from rigid sections and joints, the joints have to be sealed, again you have a section with pressure on one side and no pressure on the other, making the joint harder to move than an unpressurized joint would be.

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  • $\begingroup$ If a pressurized torso is used together with seals at arms and legs, pressure differencies between torso and extremities should be small. Hands may swell badly if not pressurized as Joseph Kittinger experienced during Excelsior III. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Sep 25 '18 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ I was assuming the arms and legs would be at low pressures to make the joints less stiff. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Sep 25 '18 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ Low pressure at the arms and legs would squeeze liquids into it and impair blood circulation. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Sep 25 '18 at 16:18

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