posted on Sep, 6 2003 @ 09:49 AM
The american and british governments began work on space suit desighn back in the 1930's.
Here are a few of the more unusual ones.
B. F. Goodrich made a full pressure suit for pioneering aviator Wiley Post. It was of double ply rubberized parachute fabric, with pigskin gloves,
rubber boots, and aluminium helmet, pressurized to 0.5 bar. The pressure suit used a liquid oxygen source and had arm and leg joints that permitted
easy operation of the flight controls and also enabled walking to and from the aircraft. In his Lockheed Vega, the "Winnie May", Post set unofficial
altitude records (as high as 15 km), discovering the jet stream in the process. In March 1935, Post flew from Burbank California to Cleveland Ohio in
the stratosphere using the jet stream. At times, his ground speed exceeded 550 kph in a 290 kph aircraft. Post's pioneering accomplishments were the
first major practical advance in pressurised flight. Ten flights were made in the suit before Post's death in 1935.
A favourite of Life magazine in the 1960's, this Grumman / Space General design for extended lunar surface operations allowed the astronaut to
withdraw his arms from the flexible manipulators and work within the pressurised 'cabin' of the can enclosing his upper torso and head.
As England continued its work with derivatives of the Ridge-Haldane-Davis suit, in the United States the US Army finally recognized, albeit somewhat
belatedly, the potential importance of a fully pressurized protective garment for military aviators and started a classified research program in 1939,
designated Project MX-117. Soon several US companies had been drawn into pressure suit developmental investigations; these included the B.F.Goodrich
Company (Russell Colley's engineering group), Bell Aircraft Company, the Goodyear Rubber Company, the US Rubber Company, and the National Carbon
Company. From 1940 through 1943 a number of original designs were produced. Generally speaking, they uniformly featured transparent dome-like plastic
helmets and airtight rubberized fabric garments which markedly restricted mobility and range of motion when fully pressurized. A major breakthrough
came in the development of segmented, bellows-like joints at the knees, hips and elbows, which improved use of the limbs. This striking visual aspect
of the early 40s suits resulted in their being termed "Tomato worm suits," after the distinctive convolutions of the Tomato Hornworm's body which
had inspired the idea
[Edited on 6-9-2003 by quaneeri]
[Edited on 7-9-2003 by quaneeri]