We're putting the finishing touches on the design and text for our upcoming exhibition "Suited for Space," launching in March 2011. It's been quite a wild (and fascinating) trip as we've examined spacesuits with National Air and Space Museum curators and photographers who have spent decades sorting and cataloguing this and that piece of space gear.
Here are a couple of tidbits we learned from them that might surprise you:
1. Spacesuits are fragile, not necessarily because of space exposure but because of what they're made of--natural and man-made materials that are unstable when integrated or juxtaposed. They just don't play nice together.
2. A rubber bladder is the innermost portion of a spacesuit. It holds air in and keeps the wearer at constant air pressure, about 3 pounds of pressure per square inch over the body, similar to the Earth's own atmosphere.
3. Nylon, developed by the DuPont company, is a petroleum-based compound and can withstand intense pressure. It's a key component in spacesuits, roping, parachutes, and bullet-proof vests.
4. It took about 45 minutes for an Apollo astronaut to put on a spacesuit; putting on a spacesuit is called "donning;" and taking it off is called "doffing."
5. A spacesuit had to protect a lunar-landing astronaut against many things, including small micro-meteoroids that travel up to 16,777 miles per hour.
Stay tuned for more fun facts, videos, and announcements about this stellar exhibition. The show will have its own Facebook and Twitter accounts as well, ready for launch sometime this fall.