Space Suit, Stripped
An advanced experimental space suit made by the Air Research Corporation in 1968 is seen via x-ray (right), which reveals a series of aluminum coils and tubes inside.
This x-ray, one of several on display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., helps paint a fuller portrait of the outfits astronauts wear while outside their shuttles to keep themselves alive and protect against the vacuum of space.
The x-rays are part of a larger exhibit called "Suited for Space," which traces the evolution of space suits over the past 60 years through photos, x-rays, and artifacts. (Related: "Photos: Space Suit Evolution Since First NASA Flight.")
Cathleen Lewis, a historian and curator of International Space Programs at the museum, explained that the coils located where elbows and knees would be were designed to help astronauts move their joints in their pressurized suits in outer space.
"The shoulder area allows astronauts to localize air displacement and restrain the pressurization," she said. "The joints were designed to automatically localize the displacement of air."
In other words, if an astronaut lifted his or her arm in space without these specialized joints, the arm would balloon up—making it impossible to do work.
The traveling exhibit will remain in Washington, D.C., through December 1, when it will continue to stops in Tampa, Philadelphia, and Seattle.