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Destination Moon: Suiting Up for Space

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Earth and Space Sciences +2 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old)

How did the space suit come to look the way it does? From the United States Navy's Mark IV pressure suit to the Apollo AL7 model, this collection explores its evolution. Investigate the hotspots in each image, and watch the videos included. Try to put yourself in the place of an astronaut - what are their needs, and wants? 

Next, investigate the roadmap for the developing Mars One mission. How will a Mars mission differ from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs?

After exploring the collection, see if you can redefine the "space suit" problem for the next generation of space explorers - specifically those going to Mars.  Will astronauts need more mobility? More protection? What insights did you gain from looking at this collection? Write down the problem and any critical information gained. 

Additional Activities: 

1. Come up with as many solutions as you can to the defined problem. Don't worry about testing them all - let your imagination run wild - and challenge yourself to come up with lots of different solutions. 

2. Talk with a partner to see which solution has the most merit between you both. Refine your idea based on this conversation. 

Finally, prototype! Use simple, inexpensive materials to model your design. 

Pressure Suit, Mark IV, Model 3

National Air and Space Museum

Pressure Suit, Mercury, M-2, Glenn, Training

National Air and Space Museum

Underwear, Glenn, Friendship 7

National Air and Space Museum

Pressure suit, G5-C, Borman, Gemini 7, Flown

National Air and Space Museum

Clothing, Space Suits, Apollo, A7L. [photograph]

National Air and Space Museum Archives