As much as we want to think so, NASA did not choose orange and white colors for space suits because it wanted to make a fashion statement. In reality, these colors were chosen after comprehensive tests and experiments.
The orange-colored suits
The orange-colored space suits are called Advanced Crew Escape Suit (ACES) and are worn by astronauts while the space shuttle is entering or ascending into space. This peculiar shade of orange is called “International Orange” and was chosen for safety as it stands out in all sorts of landscape and especially in the ocean.
The ACES were designed to help astronauts survive in case of accidents while taking-off or landing of a space shuttle.
The ACES also comes with a parachute ripcord. It also has a knife to cut the parachute chords, if the astronaut gets stuck.
It also has a life raft at the rear which gets inflated on its own as soon as it comes in contact with water.
The ACES have survival kits similar to the ones used by hikers. They are equipped with radio sets, motion sickness pills, strobe lights, flare kits and mittens.
The white-colored suits
These are called The Extravehicular Activity (EVA) suits and are bulkier. These are worn by astronauts while space-walking. They are white because white reflects the strong heat of the sun and stands out against the black expanse of space.
The EVAs have a water cooling system which recycles body sweat to keep the astronaut cool in harsh conditions. It also has a built-in drinking system which can quench the thirst of the astronaut for up to six-hours while space walking.
The survival kit on EVAs is more a primary life support kit and has an ample supply of oxygen, battery power and radio.
They also have a tough shell to prevent small pieces of space junk, called micrometeoroids, from harming the astronauts.