David Leake spacesuit

Violet LaPine wears a spacesuit while David Leake, former Parkland College Planetarium director, gives a talk on spacesuits last week at Rantoul Public Library.

RANTOUL — The spacesuits worn by astronauts weigh 300 pounds. Some of that weight was eliminated from the suit Violet LaPine wore for a talk last week at Rantoul Public Library. Still, the library board member and volunteer said it was plenty heavy.

Making like Buzz Lightyear, LaPine donned the suit for a talk presented by former Parkland College Planetarium Director David Leake.

“It was rather warm. It was heavy,” LaPine said. “From what he said, normally it would weigh about 300 pounds, maybe more. They took a lot of hardware out because it was not useful. We have air pressure.”

Of course, when the astronauts did spacewalks or walked on the moon, it didn’t matter how much the suits weighed. They were weightless.

Leake’s talk is one of a number of activities the library is holding this month in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

LaPine said the suit took a little getting used to.

“You put on a backpack and it kind of conforms to your back,” she said. “With this, your shoulders had to conform to it. It had like a metal bar or something in there to give the top half of the spacesuit structure.”

Leake talked about the suit, how it was prepared and how there have been many different variations of the suit. He also talked about the different people who have flown in space such as those from the U.S. and other countries.  

Leake also talked about the advances such as SpaceX, which designs, manufactures and launches advanced spacecraft.

Air pressure was another topic. He blew into a balloon and showed “kind of what air pressure looks like and how we need air pressure for all different kinds of things,” LaPine said.

dhinton@rantoulpress.com