Michael Walch

NYTimes Interactive Graphic: The evolution of the NASA Space Suit

Posted in General Architecture by michaelwalch on 16 January, 2011

First of all, it’s been a while since I posted.  New year, new job, new posts I will try to keep up with.

The New York Times has an excellent slide-show type graphic produced in conjunction with an interview with the Smithsonian curator responsible for the museum’s collection of NASA space suits.  The suits will be on display in a traveling exhibition called “Suited for Space” starting in March 2011.

The design of an extra-vehicular activity (EVA) or ‘space suit’ is truly a balance of human needs versus the harshest environment we know.  In the end each design also incorporates advanced engineering – polymers like kevlar and woven steel fabrics – with incredible individual talent applied to physical testing and fabrication – as evidenced in the development of the accordion-like joints and the fact that each suit was custom made by seamstresses according to hundreds of individual astronaut measurements.  The X-ray photography is a great way to reveal the many complex layers and connections needed to contain pressure, regulate temperature, and even protect against micro-meteorite collisions all while accommodating human body movements.  Many architects and designers have discussed balance between the human body and machines, but these EVA suit designs are one of the most extreme (and often elegant!) examples out there.

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