Spacesuits vs. Mini-Ships?

In the old Walt Disney flick (the “Conquest of Space”), the astronauts did not wear spacesuits. Instead, they were in cone-shoped rigid structures, with a clear galss dome for the head, and mechanical arms.
Was this approach ever considered? Spacesuits are difficult to design and to wear-you are always fighting the internal pressure 9which is trying to force your arms and legs outwards.
From what I read, most people find wearing them to be very fatigueing.
There are such rigid suits used for deep-sea diving-would that be a bettr approach than a flexible spacesuit?

A lot of the ideas in those old Disney productions were the work of von Braun and company, amnd were abandoned by the time we actually did get out into space. I recall seeing such mini-spaceship-type space suiyts in other presentations (and Heinlein used them in, for example, Space Cadet, which dates from 1948, and some of his “Future History” stories of the same vintage.

You can see the sense of it – why make a form-fitting suit, when there’s no real need for your feet out there? But the problem is that you have to build the ship to match (Note the weird shape of that space ship). I suspect that they decided it was easier and cheaper to build a ship people could go in and out through the hatch of, and then the man-shaped space suit naturally followed – you’d wear it during liftoff andf throughout the mission, including any Extra-Vehicular Activity.
A lot of their nifty ideas got changed or never materialized – the streamlined space ships (which were depucted as smaller than they would actually need to be), the ships with the shuttle-like topmost stage, which would be used for the return to earth, the balloon-based ring-shaped space station. All of these were depicted in magazines, in series like the Disney one a, George Pal’s Conquest of Space, the TV series Man Into Space, trading cards, and plastic tys. This is the image of space exploration I grew up with.

reality turned out to be different, with the ships covered with non-aerodynamic sheathing (often ribbed), no plane-topped rockets, and a space statioo radically different from the one they promised me (and with no centrifugal artificial gravity).

It seems to me that if you’re going to use mechanical arms on a mini-spaceship, you might as well use remote-controlled robotic arms, like those on the Shuttle and ISS. Or even better, the Robonaut.

A body capsule ship would need a compact powerful power source and fuel. They would have never been able to supply the energy needs for the moon missions.


Once the robotics get really good, you can probably have a remote controlled robo hand that certainly as good or better than that a gloved human hand with a few psi behind it. IMO that seems near term achievable. Now, getting a robo hand as good as a bare human hand is a fair bit further out.

And of course, remote controlled can mean anything from right next to you to as far away as the speed of light time delay you can stand.

The Glencoe model of the Retriever Rocket (used to be an old Strombecker kit) has a rigid space suit; the molds date from back when that was still being considered:

It’s the black thing sticking out of the bottom of the fuselage.

Why, here’s Werner himself with one, complete with spacesuit sticking out of the bottom:

Actually, rigid-jointed “armor” EVA suits have been among the competing designs almost since the start and continue to be worked on; some of the currently used or in-the-pipeline models already incorporate elements of the rigid suit (specially torso and hip/shoulder joints). As it stands, most EVA suits for quite some time have used some semirigid structures, where the pressurized garment has non-balooning arm/leg/torso segments with bellows joints at the elbow and knee. We just don’t see the structure because of the outer layer of reflective fabric. Considerations of the need to pack the suit into a limited space may have contributed to the decision to not yet adopt full-rigid versions.

With the original EVA suits (Gemini/Voskhod vontage) that were more derivative from the simple pressure suit, there were indeed greater problems with balooning, that led to the development of the semirigid variants.