Introduce the history of space exploration to kids by reading about influential space suits and making astronaut paper dolls!
Space is full of wonders that we feel compelled to explore! Yet, space is also full of dangers that our bodies cannot survive unaided. Scientists and engineers have had to develop special suits to overcome all of the conditions that explorers face out there.
The History of Space Suits pack was created to share those achievements with children who are interested in space and to encourage their enthusiasm for the accomplishments of science, technology, and teamwork!
Pictured above are the SK-1 space suit of the first man in space, the Apollo 11 space suit of the first men on the moon, the Mercury space suit and the Orlan space suit. We made the space background for them, using our favourite technique for painting space with acrylics.
About the History of Space Suits Pack
The History of Space Suits pack was created:
- to explain what challenges scientists face when developing space suits and the creative solutions they have come up with this far
- to give detailed descriptions of seven space suits through history, starting with the very first space suit ever made – by the way, it wasn’t actually for a human!
- to outline the important firsts in space exploration that featured those seven space suits – the first man in space, the first woman in space, the first humans on the moon, and the current period of international cooperation in space
Included in the set, you will find:
- 4 full-colour dolls & 4 colour-your-own
- 7 full-colour space suits & 7 colour-your-own
- a booklet with general information about the purpose and history of the space suits, followed by a detailed description of each suit and the missions it was used for
- schematic drawings of every suit, labelling and explaining various features of each (why were the first cosmonauts’ suits orange? what does the button “mom” on the Apollo 11 suit mean?)
- vocabulary of useful space suit terms and acronyms
Here are all the space suits in the pack.
Below are a few of the information pages – there is one for every suit. Look at all the arrows labelling the different parts! Whenever possible, we referred to the original space suit manuals to find the explanations of how they work and what the various parts are for.
Tip: You can bind the printable information pages into a nine-page book!
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the space suits!
First Space Suit in History
As mentioned before, the first space suit was not made for a human. In 1954, two dogs – Lisa and Ryzhik – became the first living creatures to wear space suits.
During the first stages of the program, the dogs were flown to an altitude of 100 km in a pressurized module. The first space suits were made for the purpose of their safe return by parachute (as was later used for the first human spaceflight).
I think that many children will find the story of space dogs fascinating and touching! It certainly had its triumphs and its losses, the most tragic of which was Laika, the dog who became the first living creature to orbit the Earth, but never came back.
You can read about her story, as well as many brighter moments of the dog space program – how the scientists chose the dogs, how they worked with them and what happened with the puppies of the first dog who came back from an orbital flight around the Earth!
First Man and Woman in Space
The first man in space was Yurii Gagarin in 1961, and the first woman – Valentina Tereshkova in 1963. Their suits – SK-1 for Gagarin and SK-2 for Tereshkova – were very similar! They were not intended for use in outer space, but more as a back-up life support in case of an emergency and for parachuting back to Earth after re-entry.
In this part of the pack, children will find out about the details of this first flight into space and why the first space suits were orange. By the way, if you want to learn more about the first woman in space, our amazing women guess who game features Valentina Tereshkova.
Apollo 11 Mission: First Humans on the Moon
The space suit for the missions to the lunar surface was far more complicated! It needed to be universal – to support the astronauts inside the spacecraft, outside the spacecraft, on the moon’s surface and in case of emergency situations.
The A7L space suit did just that! Both before and after, it was used in other Apollo missions – during space walks, flights around the moon, and later still, for the Skylab station missions.
For the lunar walk though, special additions were developed – they have become known as Apollo 11 EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit). Apollo 11 EMU included a life support backpack, a radio communication system, and a highly-reflective gold-plated visor to protect astronauts from the sun. The Apollo 11 EMU also had lots of neat pockets and valves – for pencils, for lightpens, for sunglasses, etc.! There was also this mysterious button “mom” on their communication system. No, it wasn’t for astronauts to give a call to their mothers from the moon. :-)
All of those features are marked and described on the information sheets for these two space suits.
More Space Suits
The pack also features a Mercury space suit that is famous for bringing the first NASA astronauts into space. It is very handsome and shiny!
The other one included is the Orlan space suit, the only one of these space suits that is still actively used by cosmonauts and astronauts alike on the International Space Station. Like the Apollo 11 space suit, it also consists of layers – we’ve included both the liquid cooling undergarment and the suit.
About Astronaut Paper Dolls
After reading about all the fascinating details about those space suits, why not dress-up the paper dolls with them? Paper dolls make a fun portable craft – children can work on them anywhere and bring them along on trips.
To make the dolls, simply print all the templates on sheets of card stock and cut them out with scissors and/or hobby knife. All the space suits fit both the boy and girl dolls
Tip: Paper dolls are charming old-fashioned toys, and they are great for developing fine motor skills in children. But if your children are not interested in fiddling with tabs, there is an easy solution for making them into magnetic dolls. You can even laminate them for longevity!
Another thing worth mentioning about this particular set is that you can either keep visors on or cut them out with a hobby knife – both variants are possible! And if you are cutting it out, you can even try to include a couple of little microphones inside, like on the picture below.
Interested in exploring the educational possibilities of paper dolls further? All of our paper dolls are compatible!