Felix Baumgartner, who jumped from the upper stratosphere in the Red Bull Stratos project, wore a pressurized suit in which he could obviously do better than Apollo's astronauts in their A7L and A7LB moonsuits. It is suited for 1g gravity (and should therefore be even more comfortable in 0.38g and 0.166g).

Could Baumgartner's suit respectively a modified version of it be used for lunar and Martian expeditions? Are there any disadvantages? A similar question may apply to Eustace's spacesuit but Eustace just let himself hang on his balloon so I can't tell how comfortable the suit was for him.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "It is actually a full spacesuit" Sources, please. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Jun 24, 2020 at 5:34
  • $\begingroup$ low g is actually quite more problematic than 1g $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2020 at 6:59
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ What is the basis for your statement 'it was obviously more comfortable' than Apollo's suits? $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Jun 24, 2020 at 7:47
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I’m voting to close this question because it is based on assumptions that haven't been supported, for example that the suit in question is an actual spacesuit and that it is 'obviously' better than other suits previously used in space exploration. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Jun 24, 2020 at 10:04
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @LoveForChrist, you do say it's better, your question says 'in which he could obviously do better than Apollo's astronauts in their A7L and A7LB moonsuits'. There's nothing obvious there. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Jun 24, 2020 at 10:08

2 Answers 2

  • Baumgartner's suit is now on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The museum's magazine describes that suit as a "pressurized flight suit", not a spacesuit. They are not the same.

  • The suit was not comfortable. A picture in the same article shows a press conference, with the caption "Felix Baumgartner describes the scariest part of the record-breaking skydive: getting used to the pressurized flight suit." Below it is the text

    Turns out the most nerve-wracking part of the jump attempt wasn’t, you know, falling from the edge of space; it was getting used to the pressurized flight suit that Baumgartner needed to wear. Early in his training, he began having “anxious feelings in the suit” which felt, he recalled, “like you have to breathe through a pillow.” On the day he was supposed to be in the suit for about five hours – the amount of time he’d be in it during the entire pre-launch, ascent, and, in case of an abort, a descent in the gondola – he balked.

  • His suit was not designed for walking, bending over to pick up items, or getting up after falling down.

  • As Uwe stated, thermal control in his suit is poor. There was no liquid cooling ventilation garment (nor was one needed for his brief flight).

  • Another Air and Space article states

    Baumgartner’s suit allowed him only about 15 minutes of oxygen once he left his capsule.

    That's nowhere near enough time for an EVA on the moon or Mars.

  • I can't find any sources with the technical details of Baumgartner's breathing system, but it is very likely that it was an "open-loop" system. That is, he inhales oxygen from a small tank, and his exhalations are simply vented to the surrounding air. That's very typical of aircraft flight suits. The downside is that the oxygen supply lasts for only minutes.

    In contrast, proper extravehicular suits are "closed-loop". Exhaled air is passed through a lithium hydroxide cartridge, which removes carbon dioxide and moisture, and then rebreathed by the astronaut. Such a system conserves oxygen and lasts hours, but they are heavier.

  • Both the moon and Mars have very rough terrain, which is hard on spacesuits. The outer layer of Baumgartner's suit is made of Nomex, which has great fire resistance, but has only mediocre abrasion resistance. There is no micrometeoroid protection.

  • The boots and gloves were lightweight -- as needed for parachuting -- and not durable enough for the moon or Mars.

  • The helmet lacks a visor to reduce glare from sunlight. Shuttle/ISS visors also provide headlights to illuminate items in the shade.

His suit would not be a good basis for a moon or Mars suit.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't see what the issue in the penultimate point is: "The boots and gloves were lightweight". Isn't this the goal of (entire) spacesuits? One could take multiple spacesuits per astronaut to the Moon or Mars if they wouldn't be that durable. And in the lower gravities it might not be much of an issue anyway, or would it? $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2020 at 12:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @loveforchrist - Both moon and mars appear to be rich in sharp edges due to the reduced erosive forces - see curiosities wheels. And your suit is probably too inflexible to repair tears yourself so general goal is not breaching a suit while inside it. Though Apollo used over boots separate to the pressure suit, so a lighter life support optimised suit worn with replaceable protective outer layers certainly can work if designed with that in mind. $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2020 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ @LoveForChrist Multiple spacesuits per astronaut are not lightweight. If a boot or glove fails during moonwalk and the suit looses pressure, the astronaut may die before he gets back to his replacement suit. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Jun 24, 2020 at 13:44
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ There are too few upvotes for this excellent and well written answer! $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Jun 24, 2020 at 13:46

A space suit worn on the Moon needs a system for removal of heat produced by the body of the wearer. A system that works in a vacuum without air around it. The suits also had a micro meteroite protection of multiple thin layers.

The suit of Felix Baumgartner was used in very thin and cold air, but not in vacuum. It was designed to protect against temperatures between +38°C to -68°C. It had no heat removal system designed for hours on the Moon. Just a free fall of less than 5 minutes and some minutes parachuting.

During the long balloon flight the suit was provided with cold or warm oxygen from the capsule's life support system. During the short jump oxygen from a small high pressure tank on the back was used.

Without heat removal only very short EVAs on the moon are possible with very long breaks inside the lander to cool down.

A working astronaut produces a lot of heat, about 500 W are possible. Without heat removal he would overheat and even die.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you sure he had no heat removal system? $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2020 at 10:10
  • $\begingroup$ There was only cold and warm oxygen from the capsule during ascend. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Jun 24, 2020 at 11:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.