In 1961, President John F. Kennedy stated the United States would land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth before the end of the decade. To achieve this ambitious goal, astronauts would need not only a spacecraft to launch them safely into space, but a spacesuit that would protect them as well. Without the proper clothing to keep them alive while traveling, living and working beyond the bonds of Earth, space exploration would not have been possible.
“Suited for Space,” a new exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition (SITES) and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is now open at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff through June 16. The exhibit explores the evolution of spacesuit development from the first quarter of the 20th century until the dawn of the shuttle era.
The exhibition features large-scale photographs of suits worn by astronauts from Project Mercury through the Skylab program as well as suits used in testing and training. X-ray images provide a unique view of the interiors of the spacesuits. While the fragility of these spacesuits prevents them from traveling, the exhibition will feature a replica Apollo spacesuit on loan from NASA and 10 objects from the National Air and Space Museum’s collection, including a glove, a boot and helmets.
“Suited for Space” includes suits that made history—like the one Buzz Aldrin wore on the moon—and those that never left the ground such as the Mark V spacesuit designed for Project Mercury. Visitors can see an exciting visual timeline of the spacesuits’ evolution over the years.
“Suited for Space” is accompanied by a richly illustrated book, titled Spacesuits: The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Collection available through powerHouse Books.
For more information, visit www.lowell.edu.