Science Art: Dressing for Altitude, NASA.

From NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/ebooks/dress_for_altitude_detail.html
Click to embiggen

This is an image from this NASA eBook on high-flying fashions:

Although space suits, which differ from pressure suits in subtle, but important ways, have been well covered in literature, pressure suits have gone unheralded except as introductions to the space suit histories. This e-book is an attempt to correct that….

I found this accidentally while browsing through the Popular Mechanics archive in Wikimedia Commons (since this wasn’t in that magazine, I’m not sure how it wound up among those pictures). And coincidentally last night was listening to an interesting 99% Invisible episode on averages, and how the idea of “the average person” came to dominate everything from standardized testing in schools to fighter-plane cockpits. In the military, it reached a head in the 40s, when the first fighter jets were made without adjustable seats, because they were designed for the average pilot. Then they studied a few thousand pilots and found that none of them were perfectly average. One way or another, they all needed something – a higher pedal, a lower seat, a steering column an inch further in….

Fun stuff. Interesting to see how design philosophies change from some pretty basic changes in understanding.

And this impressive-looking old-school pressure suit… it might have let the wearer breathe normally, but there’s a chance it probably, one way or another, didn’t fit so good. (I don’t really know when that particular suit was made, but it has that average pilot look to me, you know?)

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply