Published May 29, 2019
Astronauts wore the Advanced Crew Escape Suit (ACES)
only inside the Space Shuttle during launch and return to Earth.(U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)
Air Force astronaut Col. (later Lt. Gen.) Susan J. Helms prepares for Space Shuttle training in an ACES suit before mission STS-101, March 7, 2000.(Contributed photo)
Astronauts wore the Advanced Crew Escape Suit (ACES) only inside the Space Shuttle during launch and return to Earth. The suit protected astronauts in case the Shuttle lost pressure and aided in rescue if they had to leave a stricken vehicle.
The high visibility orange color made astronauts easy to spot in the water in case rescue was required. The ACES suit was adapted from a US Air Force high-altitude flying suit and had a parachute and flotation device. NASA used it from 1994 through the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.
ACES allowed crewmembers to escape a damaged shuttle between 10,000-25,000 ft altitude, and it carried ten minutes of emergency oxygen. The suit was lighter and more comfortable than earlier ones. It was also a full-pressure model, meaning it covered the whole body in an enclosed atmosphere.
The fitting on the left thigh connected the suit to the Space Shuttle’s life support system, and the white cord on the helmet connected to the communications system. The suit weighed about 30 lbs, and the parachute and flotation device weighed about 64 lbs together.
This suit is a reproduction made by the David Clark Co., maker of the real ACES suits and is on display in the museum's fourth building.
(Video) Space Suits Lecture from museum historian Dr. Doug Lantry
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The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is located at:
1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson AFB OH 45433
(near Dayton, Ohio)