The environment that we have here on Earth is perfectly suited to supporting all sorts of life. However, in order to explore beyond the planet, we need to ensure that we can protect people in the hostile environment of space.
As well as the fact that the Earth is able to provide us with an atmosphere, and therefore also air pressure and oxygen, the Earth also protects us from many other dangers of space. For example, we are protected from much of the radiation that is found in space by the Earth’s magnetic field, which forms doughnut-like discs around the Earth known as the Van Allen belt. This traps much of the radiation, helping us to avoid exposure to it on Earth.
Another thing that the Earth’s atmosphere does is to protect us from many of the small items of debris flying through space, known as micrometeorites. Even larger meteors will often burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
All of this is something that spacewalk planners are well aware of and in order to be able to allow an astronaut to embark on a spacewalk, there are lots of hurdles to overcome, as in space the protection of the Earth is not available.
Spacewalks (also known as EVA’s standing for extra vehicular activity) are a necessary part of space exploration – sometimes parts will need to be replaced or repaired on the ISS for example, and the only way to do this is to send someone out to do it! This means that all sorts of cutting edge technology needs to be in place in order to provide the astronaut with a suit that enables them to not only survive, but to work in this very challenging and deadly environment.
Manufacturers like this rubber moulding UK based company www.meadex.co.uk/rubber-moulding also need to provide materials that are perfectly adapted to do their jobs. Spacesuits need to be made to fit the individual, and they also must be able to endure the work that is required of them.
Nowadays, this is something that most of us take for granted as so many people have done it, however, for Aleksei Leonov, the first human ever to walk in space, this was not only a huge challenge but also nearly killed him, as his suit had inflated to keep pressure and then he could not get back into the spacecraft. However, he was able to release some of the pressure enough to allow him back in and return to Earth.