Monday, 30 June 2008

More suit pieces

The communications switch or "Cobra Head" was a hand switch used extensively throughout the Apollo program and figures in a number of iconic in-flight Apollo photographs. This particular switch dates to the late Apollo/Skylab era but I have not been able to ascertain whether it was flown in space.

The communications carrier, affectionately known as a "Snoopy Cap" is from the early 80's shuttle program. While the electronics in the headset may have changed in the intervening years the soft carrier itself is almost identical to its illustrious Apollo counterpart.

Identical equipment can be seen in this photograph of Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan and Command Module Pilot Ron Evans, taken while on their return from the moon in December 1972.

Further acquisitions included an A7L IVA glove, minus it's thermal micrometeroid layer.

An identical glove undergoes quality control inspection at the ILC Dover facility in Delaware.

The "bubble helmet" from the Apollo pressure suit is instantly recognizable. Manufactured by Air-Lock Inc. of Milford, Connecticut the helmet is made from "Lexan"- a strong polycarbonate plastic that combines excellent visibility with incredible strength and durability.

The design and manufacturing process may be 50 years old but it proved so successful that the same bubble helmets are being used today in the manufacture of the EVA - pressure suits currently flown aboard the International Space Station.

This cut away painting by renowned artist Paul Calle illustrates beautifully some of the pressure suit artifacts shown here. The Apollo A7L suit was a marvel of engineering that continues to influence space suit technology to this day. It amounted to a manned spacecraft of the smallest possible dimensions.

 An A6L wrist disconnect in to which the Apollo pressure suit glove would be secured. It's a beautiful example of the precision engineering that typified the Apollo program.
Apollo space suit oxygen connector and diverter valve. This connector predates the Apollo 1 fire of January 1967. Following the fire, the white nylon release lugs were changed to brass. 

Gas and water connectors are amongst the most recognizable features on the Apollo EVA suit. Alan Shepard's Apollo 14 suit, worn on the lunar surface bears testimony to that.

This Thermal Micro-meteoroid Garment (TMG) layer of the  shuttle Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) glove dates 1980. With palms made from Kevlar and latex fingers tips developed for the Apollo moon suit it was designed with the maxim "stop a bullet but pick up a dime"... in mind.

 The second glove is some 15 years later in design. Flexibility and touch has been improved by replacing the Kevlar with latex across the palm and fingers. The pull switch on the cuff operates heating elements in the fingers to combat severe cold experienced by astronauts when in shadow for prolonged periods.

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