Spacesuits

Updated: Apr 8, 2020


Box art referring to Saturn V and Vostok astronauts by Diego Sanchez (Armillary Games)

Most of you have definitely recognized some spacesuits in the game. Especially those of Yuri Newton and Neil Aquila on the box cover, will immediately trigger the thought of the space race era. Not all spacesuits in the game might be that iconic. Some are even inspired by sci-fi films. While writing this blog, still two characters need to reveal their spacesuits: penguin Sphen Easydive (basic character) and tortoise Arman Piñata (special character and solo adversary).


I will take you to a fashion show of historical, cutting edge and fictional astronaut wear. I will try to present the catwalk in chronological fashion, although the setting of the game itself is very anachronic, since several areas since the dawn of spaceflight are represented here. The colonization of Mars is already in everyone's mind since the 2nd (or modern) space race has been initiated in the 21st century, although the colonization of our nearest neighbouring world, Luna, has been paused for almost half a century. Nevertheless, the Earth's moon will be the first steppingstone before concrete spaceflights to Mars. In essence, the new space race is a new attempt to continue where the Apollo program stopped. And this time, not only Americans and Russians are joining the show. The entire world seems to be engaged in this new endeavour of building a lunar base. Because of this continuation, we want to create a link between history and the new space age. In the same way we try to make an historical record of astronomical instruments and technical inventions that has led to our understanding of the universe and to astronavigation.



Yuri Newton: SSSR spacesuit '60

Yuri Gagarin wore this SK-1 pressure suit, manufactured by Zvezda, for his flight on Vostok 1 in 1961. It had a visored helmet which was fixed to the suit. It had an inflatable rubber collar in case of a water landing and an orange nylon external suit with a mirror in the sleeve to help the cosmonaut locate the switches. Connectors for life-support and communications hoses were tightly manufactured with the suit, together with the leather-palm gloves, leather boots, and the leather-covered radio headset. Yuri Newton is the personification of Isaac Newton whose gravitational principles and formula dictates free-fall in spaceflight, and of Yuri Gagarin who was the first man ever to demonstrate it in human spaceflight.


Yuri Gagarin (Roscosmos)
Yuri Newton by Diego Sanchez (Armillary Games)


Neil Aquila: NASA spacesuit '60

First human astronavigator in space, Jim Lovell, wore this A7-L spacesuit while he was Command Module pilot of the Apollo 8 mission (first manned lunar mission) that orbited the Moon in December 1968. This suit was designed to provide a life sustaining environment for the astronaut during periods of Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) or during an unpressurised spacecraft operation. It provided relative comfort with a liquid cooling garment. The same type of suit was worn by Neil Armstrong for his legendary lunar EVA. Because of these two milestones in NASA history, Neil Aquila is a character reference to both Jim Lovell and Neil Armstrong.

Jim Lovell (NASA)
Neil Aquila by Diego Sanchez (Armillary Games)


Wang Xiongmao: Russian Sokol spacesuit for China

Pressure suits were worn on the Vostok space missions, but the early Soyuz flights only had EVA space suits for space walks and did not use Intra Vehicular Activity (IVA) suites until on June 30 in 1971 the crew of Soyuz 11 died when their spacecraft depressurized during re-entry. Pressure suits were mandatory again for future crews during critical phases like launch, docking and landing. NPP Zvezda chose to base the new suit on the existing Sokol aviation (known for their MiG fighter jets) pressure suit and replaced the Sokol suit's hard helmet. Other features of the aviation suit that were considered unnecessary were removed to save weight. The Sokol-KV2, the current version of the suit, was first used on the Soyuz T-2 mission, launched on June 5, 1980.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has bought a number of space suits from the Russians for their own space programme. Wang Yaping, the second female taikonaut, on the Shenzhou 10 mission to Tiangong-1, was wearing a Sokol-KV2 suit.

Wang Yaping (China Physics)
Wang Xiongmao by Diego Sanchez (Armillary Games)

Leo Maseko: NASA EMU spacesuit

Mandla Maseko, a candidate officer with the South African Air Force, nicknamed 'the first Afronaut', unfortunately died in a motorcycle accident on July 6, 2019. Only 30, he had beaten entrants from 75 countries to be selected as one of 23 people who would travel on an hour-long sub-orbital trip on the Lynx Mark II spaceship. We choose this family name for Leo in April 2019, prior to the accident. Nevertheless, the name will be kept in memory of this event.

In the picture, astronaut Christina Koch wears the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) that we used as an inspiration for Leo. It is a spacesuit that provides environmental protection, mobility, life support, and communications for astronauts performing orbital EVA. It is currently one of two EVA spacesuits used by crew members on the International Space Station (ISS).

The EMU, like the A7-L spacesuit, consists of a Hard Upper Torso (HUT) assembly, a Primary Life Support System (PLSS), arm sections, gloves, an Apollo-style "bubble" helmet, the Extravehicular Visor Assembly (EVVA), and a soft Lower Torso Assembly (LTA) with Body Seal Closure (BSC), legs and boots. Underneath it all, a sort of diaper or nappy (MAG), thermal undergarment, and a cooling/ventilation system is worn. The entire suit is used as an anthropomorphic spaceship and never as a pressurized IVA suit.


Christina Koch (NASA)
Leo Maseko by Diego Sanchez (Armillary Games)



João Luna: Interstellar spacesuit

For our first fiction spacesuit, we looked at interstellar. As we are dealing with a continent featuring a jaguar, we thought to equip him with something more futuristic. Although SpaceX has a real cool spacesuit, we needed to find something more of the imagination, since we gave Jarrah Walker the star man suit already (see next spacesuit). Somehow I was looking for a helmet that could be transformed into one with ear shapes, creating a Batman-look. No wonder we ended up in one of Christopher Nolan's films. Interstellar has this really cool spacesuits. The picture shows actor Matthew McConaughey as fictional character Joseph Cooper. Nevertheless, the top of the helmet looked a bit dull, and by adding those pointy ears to them, Diego's drawing end result just looks awesome! The menacing look while holding the blood moon took some time and extra care, because I really wanted the image to fit Luna's mad driven thirst for the Moon.


Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar)
João Luna by Diego Sanchez (Armillary Games)

Jarrah Walker: SpaceX suit

Jarrah's spacesuit is a SpaceX suit for astronauts to wear inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft as they fly to and from the International Space Station. This suit is even more fashionable than most fictional spacesuits can portray. This real futuristic astronaut wear was co-designed by Jose Fernandez, a Hollywood costume designer. One of his creations was a Batman suit. I think Batman really needs to be shot out into space one day ;-). Elon Musk wanted the suit to be functional and fashionable. The civilian passengers of tomorrow need to be able to see themselves wearing it, especially for future intercontinental rocket trips. The suit is custom-made for each passenger and is designed to be functional and to offer protection from potential depressurization. The helmet is custom manufactured using 3D printing technology and includes integrated valves, mechanisms for the visor, and microphones within the helmet’s structure. A single connection point on the suit’s thigh attaches life support systems, including air and power connections. Astronauts have been testing the suit to prepare for missions. The suit was even tested in space as 'starman' with an unmanned mission to Mars' orbit in a Tesla Roadster car!

Starman in Tesla Roadster ready for Hohman orbit around the Sun (SpaceX)
SpaceX suit (SpaceX)
Jarrah Walker by Diego Sanchez (Armillary Games)






Sphen Easydive: mystery?

Sir Sphen Easydive by Diego Sanchez (Armillary Games)

In the meantime, Diego is working on a super jetpack spacesuit for Sphen Easydive. I can already spoil you by saying that references are made to Star Wars and Lost in Space. But looking at the astronomer version, a stiff penguin looking like Batman's The Penguin and astronomy popularizer Sir Patrick Moore, what kind of creation can come out of this mess? I think for one, Batman really wants some attention here... and before you're all lost in space, I will set this blog on pause. To be continued...


Bye for now,

Vincent


Relevant links for more information:

Sphen Easydive story

Sphen Easydive drawing

Background Wang Xiongmao

Background João Luna

Background Jarrah Walker

Abilities, Hidden Agendas, Quests

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