» » Spacesuits: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Collection

Download Spacesuits: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Collection epub

by Mark Avino,Allan Needell,Thomas P. Stafford,Amanda Young

The goal of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth required the development of three things: spacecraft, launch vehicles, and protective clothing. Spacesuits: Within the Collections of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum takes the reader through the development of the last category, the spacesuits used during this venture. Highlighting the pressure suits created during the years leading up to the lunar missions and beyond, this book features dramatic photographs of the Smithsonian’s collection, as well as never-before-published historical images of spacesuit development and testing—range-of-motion studies, for example, in which researchers wore spacesuits while playing baseball and football. The book also includes a group of advanced spacesuits, which, though never used on a mission, are in many respects the most exciting suits ever created. One suit glove has steel fingernails and sharkskin pads, in an attempt to harness the abilities of the human hand. Spacesuits are surprisingly fragile; they are made for a short lifespan in the most extreme of conditions, and long-term survival is not part of their design process. The final chapter touches briefly on the current conditions of historic suits, how they have held up over time, the reasons for their deterioration, and the rewards and difficulties associated with caring for and preserving these very complex and iconic artifacts. From the first spacesuit designs of the 1930s through those worn on the landmark Apollo-Soyuz program of 1975, Spacesuits provides a behind-the-scenes look at the history of these remarkable creations, including some that have never before been publicly displayed.
Download Spacesuits: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Collection epub
ISBN: 1576874982
ISBN13: 978-1576874981
Category: Engineering
Subcategory: Engineering
Author: Mark Avino,Allan Needell,Thomas P. Stafford,Amanda Young
Language: English
Publisher: powerHouse Books (May 5, 2009)
Pages: 128 pages
ePUB size: 1407 kb
FB2 size: 1761 kb
Rating: 4.8
Votes: 241
Other Formats: azw rtf txt lrf

Building a Better Spacesuit

Rocketing to the Moon was a mission that involved tens of thousands of very intelligent and highly resourceful people. It also required the involvement of brave men who were required to show proof of bravery and nerves of steel. While all this was being measured and written down, somebody along the way was designing the ultimate space clothes. A spacesuit was required that would be airtight and custom- fitted to our astronauts. There was no style to adhere to; only functionality in the vacuum of space and the ability to withstand the extreme variations in temperature that occurs in space. What kind of people design space suits? Requirements for space suits are extremely rigorous --- since human life can exist only in the thinnest of atmospheric variance.

While a person wears a space suit, their body temperature has to remain constant in the vacuum of space. It has to receive oxygen, stay pressurized and keep the cold and heat out. The suit has to be an absolutely closed system so that nothing leaks out of it. It also has to be capable of allowing human waste to be excreted while the person is wearing it.
During the APOLLO era, it was essential that the space wardrobe consist of a fully contained suit, where the astronauts had to wear their oxygen supply on their backs, and the system was created to resemble a back pack. When Armstrong and Aldrin were out there on the surface of the moon, it was imperative that their space suits were strong enough to withstand sharp rocks while they walked about, and the extreme heat of direct sunlight, which was 275 degrees farenheight!

No one person can fully take credit for all this evolution of spacesuits; it all began with one man wanting to make a flight which required him to reach 40,000 feet and remain there alive, warm and comfortable until he reached his destination. It was in the 1930's when Wiley Post first donned his crude and primitive air suit. It resembled more a welder's outfit than a pilot's pressure suit, but it did the job. BF Goodrich jumped into the fray in designing air suits, which eventually evolved into the US Navy and US Air force taking the lead for these amazing spacesuits that NASA utilized for their space program.

Looking at this book, I was very impressed with the odd size of it. I wonder if it was designed to fit smartly into the pockets of Space Shuttle astronauts. Or perhaps the book would slide expertly into the pocket book of the glue-pot ladies who worked so precisely and with such dedication for the APOLLO program? Measuring 6 ¾ inches across and 12 inches down, this quality bound text is a must-have for all space flight aficionados. Opening the hard cover, I was surprised at the thickness of the paper used for publication. Like the spacesuits utilized by our US Space Program, nothing was skimped upon. No expense was spared. Only the best quality materials were used to construct this book, and I was also amazed by the stunning colors that I saw throughout the book!

I never considered just how many prototypes were involved in building the best space suit in the world. Looking at the early models felt like a wind blowing my hair back out of my face. The silver suits of the Mercury Program are a study in sixties technology! I was just a young girl in those early years of space exploration; I would see pictures of the Magnificent Seven Astronauts and I asked my mom to make me a spacesuit out of aluminum foil. I thought that's the material they were created out of, but when we tried to fashion a space suit for me, the aluminum foil crinkled, it itched really badly and tore quite easily. I learned then that those astronauts must have had a stronger grade of foil, but they had to learn to get used to the crinkliness of the fabric! I think every kid in America experimented with making their own space suits in that era.

Helmet technology is another aspect of space travel entirely. After reading the entire book, which doesn't take a whole lot of time, because it contains loads of wonderful colorful pictures, I learned a great deal of what considerations are paramount in developing helmets for the human head, (but I still crave much more detail.) I suppose having much more detail would be a threat to national security however, but this little book shines the light on a lot of what goes into making a spacesuit for our modern space astronauts and space tourists.

The first pressure suit was estimated to cost $75.00 and it wasn't safe in space.
Today, our most evolved spacesuit and helmet with boots is in the cost range of $2 million dollars a piece, but nowadays we reuse various components of the space suits, to save money. So, one suit doesn't run two million a piece, it can be refurbished and reused by another high-achiever.

Most all of the spacesuits ever sewn and worn are now being kept in a clean room at The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. On pages 128,9,30 & 31, one can take a gander at how these fragile suits are spending their days in captivity. They served a noble and grand purpose and now they have become national treasures; a testimony of man's greatest technological challenge. A special grant called, "Save America's Treasure's" provides the funding necessary to collect these endangered artifacts of our space history and to provide a protective environment for these fragile suits. Of the 200 + suits in the collection, only about 70 of the spacesuits are on display at any one time. This is because display conditions for theses suits must be controlled in respect to atmospheric humidity, natural light, warmth and risk for mold being embedded in the suits. Preservation of these rare suits is the all-consuming goal of the Space Museum today.

The big question is, where are all the missing spacesuits? I hear rumors that they are in the hands of the astronauts themselves, saving them for prosperity and all such good thoughts, but in reality, those suits should be handed over to the Smithsonian for safe-keeping. Each space suit is a history lesson; a tangible piece of our space travel and this belongs to everybody, not a wealthy private collector or black market guru.

I read this book several times and I have to award to it my highest recommendation. No one person will in their lifetime ever be able to see all these magnificent space suits in one location. They will live on inside of this elegant publication for all mankind to gaze upon and give wonder. I strongly recommend you buy this book and keep it on your prized bookshelf. It is a rare gem of a book and one feels very privileged to gaze on these marvelous space suits of our past and present.
I'm not sure of another book that exists that is solely dedicated to the spacesuit. I'm a space history fan, and the book is full of pictures and information that helps me realize just how vitally important every tiny component of a spacesuit is. Everyone is aware, of course, that it has to be airtight, heat and cold resistant, etc. But what amazes me even more is the evolution of the suit. The brave souls who tried the first ones, and the improved ones. After all, a spacesuit is really a mini space capsule. And I think that's amazing. This book illustrates that very well.
"Spacesuits" easily ranks in the top five most interesting and illuminating "space" books that I have read in several decades. And the pictures are equally fascinating too!

A while back I had read that John Glenn's Mercury spacesuit had shrunk and is now very fragile. This didn't sound right. After all, common sense suggests that if these things are designed and built to withstand the rigors of outer space, they should last forever. Right?


Museum Specialist Amanda Young starts off this saga by providing nicely detailed, but not burdensome, descriptions of the various spacesuit types and different models thereof in the Smithsonian's Collection. If you believe that you know all there is to know about U.S. spacesuits (like I did), you're in for one very big surprise. There are so many variations, not just of the suits themselves, but of the helmets and gloves as well, that it's a wonder anyone could keep track of them. A detailed listing of the suits in the collection appears at the end of the book. It is about 10 pages long and the font size is not large.

But where this book and Ms. Young really shine is when she discusses the problems of preserving and displaying these priceless national treasures. Her prose is clear, concise, and devoid of the baggage one usually sees when the writer is attempting to impress the reader. It doesn't take long to realize that the author is someone for whom these suits are not abstract objects. One can easily tell that Young has touched, examined, probed, and hefted spacesuits all the way from Alan Shepard's Mercury suit to Tom Stafford's Apollo-Soyuz suit.

The deterioration of some of these suits is both devastating and disturbing. A picture on page 132 illustrates damage caused by an unnamed museum after they punched a metal rod through the boot of a spacesuit in order to put it on display! A comment about the pictures in this book, most are stunning. The crisp details and colors captured by Mark Avino are nothing short of breathtaking and his radiograph images that show the "insides" of the suits and gloves are surreal. Kudos to the publisher too, this book offers the most vivid, most colorful reproductions that I have seen since Joseph P. Allen's "Entering Space."

The one fault that this book exhibits, besides its oddball 6-3/4 by 12 inch size, is that the section on conservation, storage and display of these priceless artifacts is maddeningly short, only six pages. My curiosity screamed for more, more, more.

After reading this book, one can only be grateful that it was Amanda Young who picked up this "ball" and made preserving our country's spacesuits her passion.
This book shows spacesuits from as early as Wiley Post to the present
Space Shuttle program. Even includes suits from the MOL Program and
experimental ones. Suits, helmets, gloves, and boots are shown. There
is also a list of suits in the NASM collection. However, there are no
photos of the early Space Shuttle Program USAF type suits and the blue
flightsuits/gear. Other related books include: U.S. Space Gear
Outfitting the Astronaut by Lillian D. Kozloski and US Spacesuits by
Kenneth S. Thomas and Harold J. McMann. I would like for someone to
write books on the following: Flown spacesuits from Mercury to ASTP and
the Shuttle program; NASA spaceflight survival gear and tools; NASA
flightsuits, jackets, and gear; U.S. military high altitude suits.
Excellent source for space suits, full of photos and detaiuls.