21 December 2010

Spacesuits ~ Engineering Astronaut Attire!

Wonderful piece in the NYTimes by Henry Fountain on The Right Stuff to Wear about astronaut spacesuits designs over the years!
"Most of the National Air and Space Museum’s collection of about 300 spacesuits is here, laid out five high on steel racks in a climate-controlled room. Each is protected by a sheet of muslin, giving the room the eerie feel of a morgue or the final resting place of members of an odd space cult. [...] The spacesuits will get their due next spring, in a traveling exhibition of full-size photographs and X-ray images organized by the Smithsonian. (Most of the suits -- especially their rubber components, which have become brittle over the decades -- are too fragile to be displayed.) Last month, a few of the people who know most about spacesuits gathered at the museum for a panel discussion about the design decisions and trade-offs that went into creating these most personal of space-race artifacts. “A lot of it is engineering,” Joseph J. Kosmo, a senior project engineer with NASA who has designed spacesuits for nearly 50 years, said in an interview. “But a lot of it is art, too.” At its most basic, a spacesuit is meant to perform two nearly incompatible functions: protect the astronaut from the harsh environment of space, and allow the wearer to maneuver and work comfortably."
Lovely stuff!

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