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The Spacesuit's Gloves: A Critical Component Essay

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The necessary use of one’s hands during extravehicular activity makes the spacesuit’s gloves a critical component.
Over the years, the United States of America’s astronauts have seen many variations of their gloves (Jordan 9). One of the first glove iterations was for the Mercury program (Figure 2) and resembled a sophisticated rubber glove from 1959 to 1963. Simple in style, they were made out of a ribbed material for ease of grasping controls and had small lights on the first finger of each glove to allow the astronauts to better see the control panel (Southern 1). The Gemini gloves (Figure 2), used from 1962 to 1966, further improved on the design used during Mercury missions featuring laced-up restraints, in addition to the later addition of adjustable straps and a palm restraint bar to increase comfort (NASA). The gloves for Mercury and Gemini programs overall had less requirements and lower complexity than future gloves as they would not be needed for extravehicular activity (Southern 1).
The dawn of the Apollo program sparked a new type of spacesuit gloves, as, in contrast to the ones used mainly inside the spacecraft, the new gloves would have to withstand use during extravehicular activities including the trip to the moon in 1969. The new set of gloves, known as the Extra-Vehicular gloves (Figure 2), was more bulky and included the feature that each glove was molded from molds of the astronauts’ hands. Two of the main foci during the design process were protection and usability. Chromel-R (Figure 1), an expensive, woven-steel fabric, was used to increase the gloves’ protection from abrasion. The fabrication of the fingertips was from silicone, allowing astronauts some fingertip sensations for better control and usabilit...


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...2000. HowStuffWorks.com. 1 May 2014.

Main, John A., Steven W. Peterson, and Alvin M. Strauss. "Design and structural analysis of highly mobile space suits and gloves." Journal of spacecraft and rockets 31.6 (1994): 1115-1122.

Mousavi, M. Mehdi S., et al. "Spacesuits and EVA gloves evolution and future trends of extravehicular activity gloves." 41th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Portland, Oregon, USA, AIAA. Vol. 5147. 2011.

Jaggard, Victoria. "Astronauts' Fingernails Falling Off Due to Glove Design." National Geographic. 13 Sept. 2010. National Geographic. 27 Apr. 2014 .

NASA. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 02 May 2014 .


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