The American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA proudly presents Suited for Space, a stunning new exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, exploring the “wearable spacecraft” that keep astronauts alive as they travel beyond the bonds of Earth.
The exhibition takes visitors on a remarkable journey through nearly a century of spacesuit design and development, from the earliest high-altitude pressure suits to the iconic white suits of Apollo and Skylab. It runs December 15, 2012 through March 3, 2013.
Suited for Space is developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The national exhibition tour is generously supported by DuPont.
The exhibit features large-scale photographs of spacesuits by Smithsonian photographer Mark Avino, as well as new X-ray images by Avino and Ronald Cunningham that provide a unique view of the interiors of the spacesuits. It also features a replica Apollo spacesuit on loan from NASA and objects from the National Air and Space Museum’s collection.
Visitors can examine unusual details of every suit, get up close and personal with objects and artifacts, take a photograph “wearing” an Apollo suit – and even walk in Buzz Aldrin’s footsteps on the gallery floor.
“Suited for Space is a truly remarkable exhibition exploring how textiles are transformed into a ‘wearable spacecraft’ capable of keeping astronauts alive and safe as they hurtle through space,” says ATHM President Jonathan Stevens. “These spacesuits are a brilliant example of how textiles have transformed the way we live our lives, thanks to the creativity, willingness and determination of innovators who refused to accept failure as an option.”
A Wearable Spacecraft
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy declared: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” To reach that lofty goal, astronauts needed not only a vehicle capable of launching them into space, but also clothing that would keep them alive during the journey. Like a form-fitting personal spacecraft, an astronaut’s spacesuit ensures survival in the vacuum of space.
The result of years of research, design, and engineering, the spacesuit made Kennedy’s vision a reality. “These spacesuits are, in many ways, the smallest of spacecraft—designed to keep an astronaut alive and well in the most hostile environment imaginable . . .” according to Dr. Allan Needell, curator of Human Space Flight for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.