What do NASCAR and space travel have in common? Beyond reaching speeds that would give the rest of us whiplash, the two also share a very special fiber. Nomex® fiber is used in both spacesuits and racing suits. The fiber, made by DuPont™, is extremely flame-resistant and has many applications.
Pablo de León has been in the space business for nearly 20 years, working as a space project manager and spacesuit designer. De León will be speaking with visitors at the Museum in Washington, DC this Saturday at the Hispanic Heritage Month: Innovators in Aviation and Space Heritage Family Day as part of the Smithsonian Latino Center’s ¡Descubra! Meet the Science Expert series.
The last time Neil Armstrong's gloves and helmet were displayed, in 2012, visitors asked us about “grey spots” on the right glove. We're conducting research and examining historical documentation to find out why.
One of our goals for this conservation project is to create a concrete timeline of the spacesuit’s condition and to document any historical repairs. To do that, we need your help. We’re looking for photos of the spacesuit from its national tour beginning in 1970, the gloves and helmet on later tours, and the spacesuit on display at the Smithsonian between 1971 and 1976.
Every once in a while a curator will receive a new collection of objects that has in it one very special item that begs to have its story told. This recently happened to me when I unpacked Alan Eustace’s stratospheric spacesuit. The former Google executive and engineer, along with his StratEx team, set several records on October 24, 2014 including the world’s highest altitude parachute jump at 41.425 kilometers (135,899 feet).
Our conservation team had the pleasure of hosting Alan Eustace, former Google executive, engineer, and stratospheric explorer, this month in the Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory. Eustace and his StratEx team are well known for their three world records including one for the highest altitude jump at 41,422 meters (135,899 feet) in 2014. The adventurer was in town giving a lecture about his historic jump and to donate to the Museum the suit, life support, and balloon equipment module he used during the jump.
I never would have guessed I’d spend the summer building a spacesuit. It isn’t exactly your typical internship. But with a lot of “spare” parts generously donated to the Museum by the manufacturer, ILC Dover, there’s a spacesuit just begging to be assembled. I spent weeks figuring out how to put this suit together, and with more than 400 parts in the collection, it’s not as simple as you might think.
We’ve received a few comments and questions about why our stretch goal for the Neil Armstrong #RebootTheSuit Kickstarter project is Alan Shepard’s Mercury Freedom 7 spacesuit. The short answer is that the two suits bracket the ideas and accomplishments of the Apollo space program.
One of my earliest memories is of watching the Moon landing on TV with my dad. I was barely four years old, so the whole thing really kind of went over my head. I do remember being upset that "Mr. Dressup" had been pre-empted. Also, I was fascinated by the fact that my dad was practically climbing into the TV, he was so excited! (He was a science teacher—genes that skipped me, sadly!) I learned that day, if people could walk on the Moon, anything was possible.