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In modern-day spaceflight, most astronauts with long hair simply bundle up their hair to keep things in order in zero-g, or to ensure easy helmet operation during spacewalks. However, fast forward a few centuries to when entire human societies might live their lives without setting foot on a planet, and many things will have changed. Among larger things like culture and technology, hairstyles will probably also evolve. If long hair is still in fashion or if metalheads still exist, they may very well develop countless unique hairstyles that both look good and have zero-g/spacesuits in mind. What existing hairstyles might be extrapolated for use by these kinds of people? Ponytails and buns seem like obvious options, but what are some other elaborate styles that are both microgravity-compatible and spacesuit-safe?

On the other hand, could spacesuits be designed around long hair, rather than the other way around? Would it be practical to have, say, a helmet seal specifically made to be loose-hair-proof?

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    $\begingroup$ On the other hand, could spacesuits be designed around long hair - why would they? they're a high-tech intrument meant to keep you alive in a very very very life-unfriendly environment. there's no place for vanity there. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2022 at 7:48
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    $\begingroup$ Long hair in microgravity presents more hazards than just fitting into a helmet. Lots of pump impellers to tangle, filters to clog. Interesting opportunities for static discharges. Potential fire hazards. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2022 at 9:40
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    $\begingroup$ Svetlana Savitskaya, first woman to perform an EVA. Judith Resnick. Shannon Lucid, the first American woman on the Mir space station. Kathryn Thornton, first woman to make multiple EVAs. Marsha Ivins. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Feb 2, 2022 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Mr.Boy: That in real life long hair is not a problem for astronauts. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Feb 2, 2022 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ @FranzGleichmann: You've very much glossed over "fast forward a few centuries to when entire human societies might live their lives without setting foot on a planet, and many things will have changed". At the point of living permanently in orbit; technology will be significantly more advanced than today, which can very reasonably include relaxed constraints that in turn allow for suits to be compatible with more varied hairstyles. The reasonable inference is that a spacebound habitat will be made up out of everyday citizens, not just astronauts on a mission - culture will be more important. $\endgroup$
    – Flater
    Feb 4, 2022 at 15:14

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could spacesuits be designed around long hair, rather than the other way around? Would it be practical to have, say, a helmet seal specifically made to be loose-hair-proof?

You can simply forget about it. If you change the size of the helmet because you want to accommodate a large bump of dreadlocks in it, you will need to change the design of any aperture through which that helmet is supposed to pass.

If you have ever boarded a plane, you will have heard the recommendation

do not inflate your life jacket before leaving the airplane, as doing so will impede your exit.

Now, look for example at the Redbull Stratos images and videos, notice how cumbersome is the movement in that cramped space, and try to figure out how could Felix Baumgartner have tried to get out of that narrow capsule hatch

enter image description here

while wearing an helmet designed to fit an hairdo like this

enter image description here

At best it would look like the famous scene where the Stormtrooper slams his head on the door.

Standardization can ensure reliability, and without reliability space is a graveyard waiting to be filled. I highly doubt there will be space for fancy hairstyle in space.

One will be allowed to have any hairstyle they like, as long as it fits in the standard helmet.

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    $\begingroup$ @Goodies Especially a problem if, like Mickey Mouse, the ears move around on his head as he turns. The official rule is that his ears must always be 2 perfect circles no matter what angle they're viewed from. In the new CGI cartoons, this necessitates them sliding around so as to always face the camera when his head turns. It's really disconcerting if you start paying attention to it. Now imagine that in a space helmet... $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2022 at 18:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Goodies These are ponytails. It is just the hair is different from what you are, probably, used to. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Feb 2, 2022 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ @DarrelHoffman ...which means Mickey Mouse's ears are actually perfect spheres... $\endgroup$
    – Josh Part
    Feb 2, 2022 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ @JoshPart I was thinking more radar dish-like, auto-aligning to always face the camera.. $\endgroup$
    – Nuclear241
    Feb 2, 2022 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ This is a silly discussion. There is no such thing as a double-ponytail. Those are obviously pigtails. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Feb 5, 2022 at 15:31
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Well in the limiting case technology is indistinguishable from magic, and anything goes. But you said "fast forward a few centuries", so lets assume good space suits are still a bit tricky. Also, when we talk about "entire human societies" we are not talking about the bleeding edge tech, we are talking about what is easy to mass produce. Both of these things should tame our expectations.

There is something that is quite possible even with current tech; a space equivalent to the motorcycle braid;

enter image description here That could just as easily be stuck on a space suit as it is on a motorcycle helmet. They come in lots of varieties too; enter image description here

Given it's not real hair, it could be slightly stiffer so that it behaves well in 0G. Also, it would likely not want to be too firmly attached, so that it could pop off if it got caught on something.

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    $\begingroup$ @Goodies there are no holes, these are fake hair stuck on the outside. $\endgroup$
    – Mr. Boy
    Feb 2, 2022 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Mr.Boy Oh god, could you imagine if those were real hair sticking through holes? It'd be a major pain to thread your hair through the holes every time you put your helmet on. Taking it off would be less bad, but still potentially a pain. And that's even if they weren't airtight. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2022 at 19:17
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    $\begingroup$ Note that these are stuck on with suction cups, which won't work in the vacuum of space (since they require a pressure differential). You'd probably want to use some sort of adhesive instead (magnets would work, but you don't want things to come loose - space debris can be deadly). $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2022 at 22:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Clockwork-Muse Would good old-fashioned velcro do the trick? $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2022 at 9:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Clockwork-Muse my understanding of the dangers of space debris is that they are dangerous when they move at a very different velocity to you. Is there another issue you are thinking of? I think the greater danger here is having something that could catch on things, so I would actually want it to be not too firmly attached, so that it would come loose, rather than pulling on the astronauts helmet. $\endgroup$
    – Clumsy cat
    Feb 3, 2022 at 9:55
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Practical? NO, but people will find a way to do it? Definetly YES

I´m sorry, but human stupidity and vanity can be infinite. As you said:

"...fast forward a few centuries to when entire human societies might live their lives without setting foot on a planet..."

Considering this long timeframe I'll bet that the super rich will gladly pay for any special equipment as a means to distinguish themselves from the common folk. Look how far people go today to do it alrealy. Heck, people DIE taking selfies just to make a cool instagram post.

Suits of many colors, with glitter, with pocket aquarium™ filled with live fish and even neo-led flashing designs will appear. The common man will surely try to show his individuality, heritage and culture through some cosmetic changes. Probably in cheaper ways but no less creative ones.

If you extrapolate you could have zero-g balls in the whole Marie Antoinette style with extravagant and exorbitant hairstyles. Fake wigs, syntethic fibers, holographic, augmented reality hairstyles, the sky is no longer the limit, nor the helmets will be.

Sorry for the lack of faith in our successors...

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    $\begingroup$ It is worth noting that we are already doing augmented reality/VR overlays for fashion on selfies. As such this is already a viable out of the box way of solving the posed question. $\endgroup$
    – Anketam
    Feb 3, 2022 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe the REASON for those hairstyles is the impracticality. "Look at me, I can afford the luxury spaceships with XL Hatches and custom made spacesuits that this awesome hairdo requires" then it becomes a fad (bc rich celebs do it) and the accomodations become cheaper /semi-standard $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Feb 4, 2022 at 11:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Hobbamok Exactly. $\endgroup$
    – mcbecker
    Feb 4, 2022 at 12:43
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For a far-future society that views space travel as normal and safe, hairstyles can get quite outlandish. However, there will still be some constraints intrinsic to a zero-G environment that you will want to consider even if danger is not a concern.

You're definitely going to want to avoid anything loose. Long straight hair and ponytails, styles that are common planetside, are going to be impossible to control in zero gravity, so they aren't going to be practical or look good. Tightly bound buns of various configurations will be the standard way of wearing long hair.

One fun possibility that is stylish and silly without being completely impractical in zero-gravity is an angled version of the old beehive, with the hair bunched up and sticking out the back of the head instead of the top. Xenomorph-styled, swept-back space helmets could be designed with these structures in mind. While less practical than a regular round helmet, you could still fit it through a door with some practice.

Of course, if the tech is advanced enough and you want to be really out-there, why not try out completely ridiculous, gravity-defying "peacock tail" hairstyles that are held in place by automatic hovering drones and can fan out on command? I imagine this kind of thing would be a common sight among the stupid rich.

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Braiding close to the head, as it now often done with hair with fine curls. You will have to re-do it every few days to months, depending on the style and the hair itself, as well as outside influences as temperature (hot weather makes hair grows faster, it seems.) Think of what is now often used as the start of real or fake hair braids.

I expect that in those times many of the space ships will have some kind of artificial gravity and not many people will regularly go out of the space ship to do work in a space suit, but hairstyles braided close to the skull will fit under helmets. Helmets may evolve to have 'look through all around' materials and the braiding on the back of the head would be visible, very visible if the helmets are made for it.

I do not see long braids on the end of the close to the skull braids as practical, but it may well be possible for those who do not use space suits in space.

If someone does braid your hair for you, you can have a lot of variation in the patterns of the braiding, including a logo of your favorite band or brand (and get paid for being a walking bill board.)

In weightless environments having long hair braided has an advantage over short hair, even almost skinhead short, as there will be no hairs floating around and you do not run the risk of spreading short bits every time your hair grows beyond the limit and you have to cut or shave it off again. Just do not undo your braids and all your hair will stay with you.

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I think a point is being missed in that as space-travel and habitation becomes normal, people won't be wearing spacesuits typically any more than you wear a life-jacket or special clothes for sea/air travel now.

In that situation, zero/migro-gravity provides an excellent space for freedom of expression with hair. Think of what you can do with your hair without gravity pulling it down....

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes - expect EVA to be done by drones or possibly fully autonomous robots. Although there will be some people who want to go out in space suits, just like there are people who go SCUBA diving today by choice even though they don't need to. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2022 at 2:24
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In an effort to accommodate loose hairstyles, we have some options. The real trouble is when you loose the "keep it outta my face" effect from gravity. Some (most?) designs of spacesuit will not allow you to sweep hair out of the way.

Cap

Yes, wear a cap to keep the long hair out of the way. Assuming the suit has a relatively close-fitting collar, the hair will be mostly held in place by these two articles of clothing. Some pulling may also occur, so care must be taken to give enough slack between the cap and collar.

Stiffen It

That's right, use a hair product (gel) to make the hair stiff. It then stays (more or less) where you put it, even when you choose to look like a hedgehog. The size of the hair will be limited by the size of the helmet. There may be some "bend points" in the hair to allow neck movement while wearing a helmet. So long as it bends out of the field-of-view, it's fine.

It is not inconceivable to have a fairly spacious helmet, too. Some real-life proposed suit designs actually allow for hands to go into/out of sleeves so an astronaut could scratch their nose or readjust their headgear. (IMHO, they make astronauts look a bit like old sci-fi robots, but there are advantages to this style.)

Face Seal

Maybe a newfangled and close-fitting suit, explicitly for long hair, has a "face seal" that splits the helmet into the "hair space" and "face space". The face seal explicitly prevents long hair from floating into faces, but allows whatever hair style fits back there. The neck could still bend, so looking around would not be an issue.

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  1. Astronauts do not use suits. Their skin is amply reinforced with carbon fibers. They could breathe by using electricity to create oxygen in their bloodstream, but nowadays conductive protein wires link their battery contacts directly to mitochondrial electron acceptors.

  2. Astronauts do not have hairstyles. When they are young, motor and sensory neurons that normally would have undergone apoptosis, for lacking appropriate wiring, are kept alive by being individually targeted for stimulation in response to hair-mounted sensors, or trained to move a tiny subset of individual hairs via actuators spaced along its length. Simply put, their hair is prehensile, concealing a powerful network of machinery. From one moment to the next it could adopt any hairstyle; but more often it is used to do complex, detailed, dextrous work in tight quarters.

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This is a non-issue.

Loose hair works just fine in the ISS. See Cady Coleman. This is what she looks like when inside the Station.

enter image description here

It would work better in a more advanced space habitat.

This is what she looks like outside the station.

enter image description here

Outside the ISS the helmet and light conditions means the hairstyle can rarely be seen. There is no reason to have a hairstyle that cannot be seen.

If you want a future with fancy astronaut hairstyles then you first need to redesign the helmets they wear so the hair is visible.

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Force-Field Space Suits
They can form up in such a way as to capture any loose hair and encapsulate it in a way that doesn't restrict motion of the wearer. That requires some significant smarts but isn't impossible.

Nanotech Based Space Suits
These could have similar behavior except that one alternative might be that extraneous hair is digested and made part of the suit while it's being worn. The hair can simply be restored to original form when the suit removes itself.

Frame Challenge
Genetic engineering that removes the need for a space suit. The person simply exits through a force-field or nano-vacuum curtain in all their glory, transitioning to space-mode operation as they leave. The hair remains where it is. This would be the ultimate in self-expression as their current form could be their own choice.

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There are plenty of ways to keep very long hair very tight around the head without it obstructing anything:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

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