In the picture it shows two different suits. Why did NASA color one orange just like they did with the space shuttle astronaut suits?

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    $\begingroup$ hedge against them needing rescue. Is there any reason why American spacesuits color changed over years? includes a link to the ACES suits the new suits are based on, which include provisions for flotation as well. $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Nov 16, 2022 at 8:26
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    $\begingroup$ Isn't the white one an EVA suit and the orange a pressure suit for launch and landing? $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2022 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a valid opposite question of "why do EVA suits have large areas that aren't white for heat rejection? " $\endgroup$
    – Criggie
    Nov 17, 2022 at 2:44
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    $\begingroup$ Too much Kerbal Space Program. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Nov 17, 2022 at 2:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Criggie You mean "large areas that aren't white to minimize solar absorption". Heat rejection occurs in the IR, you'd want them to be "black" (emissive) to maximize rejection, and most white paints and plastics are "black" in the IR anyway. $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    Nov 17, 2022 at 6:37

1 Answer 1


Same reason the shuttle ACES suit was orange. Both were to be worn during launch and reentry, when contingencies are possible that would put a crew member in the ocean. The color aids visibility for recovery.


The outer cover layer, which is orange to make crew members easily visible in the ocean should they ever need to exit Orion without the assistance of recovery personnel, includes shoulder enhancements for better reach and is fire resistant.

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    $\begingroup$ Evidently none of the people that picked that color have ever tried to find anything in the ocean. I live on a boat and orange is just not that "visible". You want to be found, you need fluorescent yellow. Visible from a long distance even toward sundown. Maybe they justified the different color based on visibility, but my guess is someone had a preference and pushed for it using this argument. Notice also the lack of reflective tape on this suit. Compare that with ocean voyage life jackets. My vote is for a designer that didn't know what he was doing making a compelling argument. $\endgroup$
    – boatcoder
    Nov 16, 2022 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ @boatcoder there's probably a difference between the optimal colour for something you try to find by boat and something you try to find by plane/helicopter. $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2022 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ @boatcoder So you're claiming that the US Coast Guard, among others, has painted all their helicopters and response boats the wrong color, and that SOLAS has internationally required all lifeboats to be the wrong color? Because all of those are the same orange. $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    Nov 16, 2022 at 17:14
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    $\begingroup$ @user71659 it's not unknown for studies to reach a non-optimal solution. Once a standard is established it's extremely rare for them to be questioned. Trying to buck a standard is a career-limiting move, and extra work besides. $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2022 at 21:07
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    $\begingroup$ @boatcoder It’s possible that they were accounting for more than just the possibility of water rescue. Orange (albeit usually brighter than the depicted suits) is the go-to color for most land environments (other than deserts, where a strong blue is generally better, and deciduous forests, where you have to pick something based on the season). Also, orange in the ocean is still pretty noticeable from the air when looking down at a reasonable angle towards the ocean. The lack of reflective surfaces though is baffling though. $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2022 at 2:47

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