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Default Gallery: The Space Suit Makes the NASA Astronaut

</img>: Photo: NASA"Form follows function." Nowhere is that dictum more inflexible than in the hostile reaches of outer space. So nothing hews to that dictum more closely than the space suit. Even as it has evolved over NASA's 50 years to adapt to increasingly sophisticated missions and changing spacecraft technology, the space suit's central purpose -- to maintain a human environment where none exists -- remains constant.
From the Mercury suit worn by John Glenn during his historic three-orbit flight in 1962 to today's shuttle and space station rigs, the basic requirements for the space suit have not changed, but the designs have. Here's a look back at the last piece of technology standing between NASA's astronauts and oblivion.
One Size Fits All

</p> An astronaut is fitted into his space suit. Because suits are recycled among astronauts, they need to be constantly resized to maintain adequate pressure. This is accomplished using a sizing device developed for NASA by Hubert C. Vykukal.
</img>: Photo: NASA Enos the chimp, restrained by wrist tethers and still wearing his space suit, after returning from orbit aboard Mercury Atlas 5 in November 1961. He beat John Glenn into space by two months.
</img>: Photo: NASAJohn Glenn in his Project Mercury pressure suit, which he wore when he became the first American to orbit the Earth. Glenn is also the only astronaut to go into space wearing both Mercury and space shuttle suits.
</img>: Photo: NASANeil Armstrong, pictured here, would be the first human being to set foot on the moon. But not in this suit. Here, he models a Project Gemini G-2C training suit, designed to be flexible when pressurized.
</img>: Photo: NASAOn June 3, 1965, astronaut Ed White became the first American to walk in space. He's wearing a modified Gemini space suit and is tethered by a lifeline to his Gemini IV capsule.
</img>: Photo: NASAEngineer Bill Peterson fits test pilot Bob Smyth into an Apollo space suit with a lunar excursion module restraint harness during testing in 1968. Project Apollo put astronauts on the moon, so the suit had to be designed for both lunar conditions and maximum flexibility.
</img>: Photo: NASAAmerica's first man into space, Alan Shepard, walked on the moon a decade later as commander of Apollo 14. This was the suit he wore, minus helmet and gloves, when he played his famous round of lunar golf.
</img>: Photo: NASAThe iconic shot: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin is photographed by Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong in the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong is just visible in Aldrin's face shield.
</img>: Photo: NASAWhen the first shuttle flight, STS-1, lifted off on April 12, 1981, astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen wore the ejection escape suit shown here. It's a modified version of the Air Force's high-altitude pressure suit.
</img>: Photo: NASAThis is the familiar orange launch and entry suit worn by current shuttle crews, nicknamed, appropriately enough, the "pumpkin suit." This is an all-purpose suit designed to cover most contingencies: It includes a helmet with built-in communications gear, a parachute pack and harness, a life raft and life-preserver unit, an oxygen manifold and valves, and survival gear.
</img>: Photo: NASAIn February 1984, shuttle astronaut Bruce McCandless became the first astronaut to float in space completely untethered to his spacecraft. A jetpack known as the manned maneuvering unit kept McCandless within hailing distance. NASA has since ditched the MMU and are once again secured to the spacecraft, although they do wear a similar device in case of an emergency.
</img>: Photo: NASAAn artist's conception of the future launch and entry suit, left, and a spacewalk suit. Although NASA plans to retire the shuttle in 2010, there are plans to replace it with another vehicle, Orion, by mid-decade, and to return to the moon by 2020.
</img>: Photo: Ingrid Barrentine/Wired.comAdrian Emry, 7, of Moses Lake, Washington, gives a thumbs-up to NASA engineer Bill Welch, who wears a lunar spacesuit concept for use in Project Constellation, the planned U.S. return to the moon.


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