Wouldn’t it be easier to make a space suit that only maintains air around the head, and just has a “tight” insulated and shielded suit around the body?
It seems to me the reasons we need a space suit are:
- To breathe
- To be protected from the low pressure of vacuum
- To be protected from radiation
- To be protected from extreme temperatures (hot and cold)
Only the first requires air. The biggest challenge that was faced in designing the original space suits was that air wants to distribute pressure evenly, causing the suits arms and legs to spread out and not bend easily. This is still a major design challenge that leads to clunky joints all over the suit. Metal joints on the new suit announced by NASA don’t look much better.
Would it work to just have air within the helmet on the head of the astronaut, with a suit that is like a wet suite with enough tension to have the equivalent pressure of one atmosphere on the body? Wouldn’t this give much more flexible design constraints to suits and what an astronaut could do?
I feel like I’m missing something fundamental, but can’t think what it would be.