The long strange trip
The rigors of alien environments contrast with shipboard conditions. When people face extremes of temperature, pressure, and atmospheric composition, a vacc suit is the principal survival tool. At lower Tech Levels, these are unwieldy and uncomfortable, but they become lighter and more flexible with each technological advance. At the higher Tech Levels, the suits provide improved armor protection. At an additional cost, suits may be made self-sealing at Tech Level 13. At Tech Level 15, all suits are self-sealing. Vacc suits consist of suit, gloves, boot, and standard helmet; they protect against temperatures from +100 C to -110 C and pressures of up to 5 atm.
At Tech Level 14, tailored vacc suits become available. These include a soft helmet which is more comfortable but is wasteful of air supply: PLSS air supply duration is divided by two. Other advantages of a tailored suit are style and status.
At Tech Level 13, Vacc suits have no felt weight for the wearer.
At Tech Level 10, holographic heads-up displays become common in hard-helmet suits. The display shows the condition of the suit and the current battery level and air supply.
Early-Tech Vacc Suits
Although the great majority of EVA suits in use within the Imperium are of lnterstellar-level manufacture, more primitive versions are still in use.
The TL4 vacc suit looks like – and performs like – something out of a Jules Verne novel. Bulky, ponderous and alarmingly prone to pressure leaks, this suit has no integral valves for use with individual air tanks (although such valves could be retrofitted with some effort). Instead, the suit’s heat and oxygen supply is piped in through a dedicated umbilical tube. The umbilical tube has a variety of predictable drawbacks it limits the user’s range, is an impediment to movement and is extremely vulnerable. However, as individual air tanks are not available until TL5, it is the best the manufacturers can do. The TL4 suit is also noted for its inability to keep heat in and radiation out (in spite of the very heavy lead mesh).
TL5 vacc suits are more flexible than their TL4 predecessors, less prone to leaks, and equipped to accept either individual air tanks or Improved umbilical connections. Heat comes from small electric warmers (powered by one hour batteries). Radiation protection, though better than the TL4 model, is still rather poor.
At TL6, vacc suits become lighter, more rugged and much more flexible. Descended from high-altitude flight suits, these garments offer better radiation protection and greatly improved heating and personal comfort. Unfortunately, they are no more puncture-resistant than their predecessors. They can accept both umbilical connections and air tanks.
TL7 Basic PLSS: The basic personal life support system (PLSS) is introduced at TL7, making extended vacuum operations feasible. Although designed for use with TL7 and TL8 vacc suits, it can be integrated with more advanced gear. Although heavy, the basic PLSS is solid and reliable. It is powered by internal batteries.
The TL8 vacc suit is a refined, less-bulky version of theTL7 model. Increased manual dexterity and radiation shielding are two important features. It is commonly used with a basic PLSS. Personal maneuver capabilities can be provided by the maneuver pack (also introduced at TL8 and fully integratable with the TL8 suit and basic PLSS combination).
Maneuver Pack: This is a man-sized framework of 24 small, highly advanced, water Resistojets. The entire thrust potential of the unit is 60 seconds of 0.04 tons of thrust. It is powered by internal batteries and is refueled by adding 2.5 liters of water.
Portable life support systems (PLSS) are a necessity; they can be purchased with different supplies of air. Batteries power the air supply recycler achieve capacity; a recharge lasts as long as the PLSS oxygen supply. Lighter tanks with greater pressure are available at higher Tech Levels.
Magnetic grips, handheld or fastened on boots, can make movement easier in low-gravity situations.
Suit patches come in handy in the event of a vacc suit breach. They are unnecessary for small holes on self-sealing suits.
The thermal-meteoroid garment is a hooded, coverall-like garment added over the top of a regular vacc suit. It lessens the risk from micrometeoroids, and can be used to temporarily “harden” a soft suit It protects from + 1300 to -160%
The long range thruster pack (LRTP) is heavy, but it provides 2G acceleration for up to 48 hours, using standard starship fuel.