Spacesuit Photos

Last update: 5/20/00

Following photos are of high altitude flying suits like those wore by SR-71 and U2 pilots. If you want to skydive from 60,000 feet or above, you WILL need one of these.

spacesuit photo In this photo (by Gordon Tenney from the 1964 Time-Life book "Man and Space"), the water at body temperature boils out of a beaker held by a spacesuited man as the chamber pressure is suddenly lowered to equivalent of 63,000 feet. This is what will happen to a unprotected human body at or above this altitude. 63,000 feet is known as the Armstrong Line, the altitude where blood begins to boil. However, this is a pressure reference and being only 3,000 feet lower is really not much safer.

spacesuit photo

There are four parts to the suit. The first part, dark green, is a comfort suit. The second part, white knitting, is the pressure suit. The third part is the orange overall that provides fire protection and pockets. The fourth part, in front, is the harness for the parachute and floatation device. On the upper chest are the capewell attachments for the parachute risers.

spacesuit photo

This is the pressure garment (with white knitting) that protects you from the vacuum of space. Your body would not know the difference between 60,000 feet or 100 miles. You'd be just as dead without this suit at those altitudes.

spacesuit photo

Here is the space helmet. On the same are the gloves, in orange on front left. Those beige things (two seen here) are the "relief tubes." Not many can hold their bladder after flying an SR-71 or a U2 for hours (and there no bathrooms on these planes).

There are some other accessories for the suit on this table (sorry I didn't identify everything here). The long thin beige thing is a pointer that instructor's use in presentations and the white thing on the lower right is an empty coffee cup (I did not leave it in this room. I did throw it out, honest.)

spacesuit photo

Here is a fully assembled suit which is also inflated giving the impression of someone inside. This particular suit is used by NASA ER-2 pilots and was on display at an airshow. The bands around the chest are the inflatable life raft. The checklist on the left arm reads:
6-Line Release
Deploy Kit [?????]
Inflate Vest
Visor Down
Vent Hose
Comm Cord
Close UCO
Feet In Water
Release Canopy

The picture on the right of the suit says, "At 60,000 feet, this pilot stands alone." This means two things. One is that noboby else flies that high, and two, there is no safe place at that altitude. The suit is essential for a pilot's survival.

Jim Strong is at the Beale AFB air show to photograph SR-71 pilots after a high speed, high altitude flight.
spacesuit photo spacesuit photo

spacesuit photo

photo of a U-2 pilot undergoing preparation from Beale AFB webpage

In God We Trust, all others we monitor is the Beale AFB motto. Visit their webpage at

Internet Sampler on Space Suit created by Karnell, Stephanie, Sallie, and Lilian of Whittier Elementary School

Still don't think a space suit is necessary? Read the following:

Human Exposure to Vacuum

Surviving Rapid Explosive Decompression at 1,000,000 feet

Explosive decompression portrayed in the movie, 2001 A Space Odyssey, suggests a human could survive a brief exposure to space. However, many aviation physicians say such a situation would kill someone and is not survivable. Click here for that particular scene.

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