ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet is travelling the world preparing for his six-month adventure on the International Space Station
(ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet)
At NASA’s Johnson Space Center, in Houston, USA, Thomas is putting his spacesuit to the ultimate test on Earth: all the air is pumped out from the Space Station Airlock Test Article to create a vacuum like he would encounter in outer space.
All astronauts who live on the International Space Station are trained for spacewalks in case they need to head outside.
Thomas will be launched into space together with NASA’s Peggy Whitson and cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy. The trio will soon be training in Russia and will support their colleagues on the next launch to the Space Station in June.
(Space Station Airlock Test at Johnson Space Center)
It turns out that Otto Willi Gail provided extensive details for spacesuit testing in his exciting 1929 novel The Shot Into Infinity:
Korf opened the doors of the chamber built into the wall, entirely finished in rubber and provided with an airtight door.
"Two things (aside from cold which can be overcome) seem to make a stay in space impossible for human beings; the absence of pressure and the lack of air. I'm going to pump the air from this room, which really amounts to nothing more than a laboratory flask on a large scale, so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space."
With great excitement the visitors watched Korff take from the drawer a bundle, which he opened up.
"This is a suit made from rubberized leather, like a diving suit, and absolutely airtight. By means of a special air magazine so much air is constantly produced in the suit that there is a constant pressure of one atmosphere, regardless of the external pressure.
Suchinow silently slipped into the costume and allowed Korf to screw on the helmet with the oxygen chambers. Then he placed himself in the center of the chamber. In one of his leather-covered hands Korf placed a burning candle. Then he closed the door, through the glass window of which all the proceedings could be witnessed. They could clearly hear an electric bell in the chamber, which Korf switched on.
The pump began to work. The candle flickered and went out. The bell seemed to sound fainter and fainter, though the clapper kept on striking. korf shut off the pump.
"Now, except for weight and heat, the same conditions prevail in this chamber as in space. Yet Mr. Suchinow, with whom we cannot communicate at present, certainly feels alright."
Sam looked through the window, and laughed out loud. In fact Suchinow presented a very comical appearance. The suit had swelled to its fullest extent and had taken on the shape much like that of the favorite rubber dolls of festival times.
(Read more about Otto Willi Gail's spacesuit testing)