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robertogreco : spacesuits   11

A Brief History of Astronaut Fashion — The Atlantic
"FFD’s founders, Nikolai Moiseev and Ted Southern, met in 2007 as rivals in a public NASA competition to design a better glove. At the time, Southern was earning a master of fine arts degree in sculpture at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute of Design. His work also included theatrical costumes; Cirque du Soleil remains a client of the company. Moiseev, meanwhile, had spent two decades working on space suits at Zvezda, Russia’s leading space-suit company. He saw the contest as a chance to leave his home country, where bureaucracy and funding problems stifled his creativity, and find new opportunities in the commercial space sector of the U.S.

Perhaps as a child, you inflated a rubber glove into the rough approximation of a balloon bird. Imagine now that you have to blow up—pressurize—that glove, but the fingers must remain independent and mobile, capable of grasping, and the palm must remain curved slightly inward, so it can hold things. Traditionally, space-suit gloves have solved this problem by having two layers, a pressurized bladder inside and a restraint layer outside. But the friction between them makes it harder for astronauts to move their hands.

Moiseev and Southern’s winning design was a glove with a single layer—they were able to use an air-tight material to create the combined effect of an air bladder wrapped in fabric, significantly reducing friction. With the modest prize money and new contacts, they were able to incorporate FFD and get Moiseev U.S. residency. They began winning small research and development contracts for gloves, sleeves and other components. By 2010, the company had completed its prototype of a fully-functioning IVA suit.

Its current suits, which include built-in helmets, are also single-layer, relying on high-tech fabrics heat-welded at the seams. The pressure they generate while inflated is about one-third that of the earth’s atmosphere at sea level, allowing you to survive for several hours in the event of decompression. They also protect you when rocket acceleration generates forces equal to three times earth’s gravity, thanks to special bladders that inflate around your legs during take-off and re-entry. The suit includes an oxygen system, temperature controls, utility pockets, a built-in sunshade, integrated communications systems and, yes, a “biomedical port” for medical diagnostics and human waste.

Experience has led space programs to conclude that a pressure suit is worth the weight, cost and discomfort. Soviet astronauts flew without pressure suits—“they wanted to project an image of this being a ride on a bus,” De Monchaux says—but when an oxygen valve failed on a Soyuz craft returning to Earth in 1971, it depressurized 100 miles above the ground. The recovery crew found the three cosmonauts onboard dead from asphyxiation. Now, all Soyuz crew members wear suits when they fly."



"Like many space-focused entrepreneurs, FFD thinks it can disrupt incumbent government contractors—or at least compete successfully—thanks to cheap new technology, methods, and materials. Last December, the company signed a research agreement to develop a new IVA suit for NASA.

Currently, NASA is planning on using the latest iteration of the ACES pumpkin suit when it flies manned missions in its Orion spacecraft, beginning in 2018. It is modifying the suit to function outside the space capsule as well, for a mission to an asteroid the agency hopes to launch sometime after 2020. Here, astronauts get some practice in the suit during an underwater training session: [video]

Southern thinks his suit might be a better candidate for that mission, because it’s more flexible and operates at higher pressurization than the ACES suit, reducing the risk of altitude sickness. It is also 14 lbs (6 kg) lighter, saving 100 lbs of weight for a full crew of seven astronauts—which may not sound like much, but remember that the cost of a rocket launch is measured in thousands of dollars per pound. FFD’s suits also cost $80,000 each, far less than the $250,000 spent on ACES suits.

And the market is expanding. Both Boeing and SpaceX intend to fly humans into space in 2017, and it is not yet clear what they will wear. SpaceX is reportedly developing its own suit, though FFD has had several meetings with the company. Boeing remains mum, but Southern says he expects it to use one of the established contractors. Virgin Galactic is not planning to use pressure suits aboard its space plane, which will make only short flights above the atmosphere, but more serious missions—whether that’s bringing tourists to floating habitats in orbit or on the moon, as Bigelow Aerospace is mulling; mining asteroids, per Planetary Resources; or sending an expedition to Mars, à la NASA and SpaceX—will all involve long periods in space and tricky maneuvers in addition to launch and re-entry.

Even so, Southern and Moiseev concede that the market for space suits may not pick up fast enough for them to build a truly humming business beyond small contracts from NASA and a few other high-altitude entrepreneurs. But they hope to spin a sideline in terrestrial clothes out of their latest generation of space-suit designs.

For example, they see an opening in wearable tech, where they could use the experience garnered while creating the most extreme wearable technology in existence. They already market their “comm caps”—skull caps with built in radio gear used by astronauts—as headsets for gamers. Southern also showed me the prototype of a belt he is developing. Fitted with tiny, vibrating motors connected with electronic threads, it could relay directions to a pedestrian by feel, so she wouldn’t have to hold a mobile phone. I wished I’d had one when I was trying to find his offices."
spacesuits  glvo  design  finalfrontierdesign  2015  tedsouthern  nikolaimoiseev  uniformproject  space  gloves  timdernholz 
march 2015 by robertogreco
A DIY Pressure Suit for Near-Space Adventures | Popular Science
"In 2008, Cameron Smith, an anthropology professor at Portland State University in Oregon, decided to build a space suit. He designed the Mark I to protect himself on a high-altitude balloon ride, and so far it’s passed tests in a hypobaric chamber and underwater. Last year, independent space program Copenhagen Suborbitals offered him a potential path to the stratosphere (between about 30,000 and 165,000 feet above Earth). Smith will make a suit for the Danish group this summer, and they’ll help him build a helium balloon craft. Traditional pressure garments can cost upwards of $30,000. Smith’s materials set him back about $2,000, thanks to creative use of junk parts and spare kitchenware. “We’re trying to make it easier for people to get into space,” he says."
spacesuits  diy  2014  cameronsmith  space  spacetravel  wearables  materials  2008 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Deutsche Bank - ArtMag - 58 - feature - Walter Pichler’s Futurist Visions
"Since the 1960s, Walter Pichler has been working in the borderline area between sculpture and architecture, designing models of utopian cities and objects such as his legendary "TV Helmet." Many of Pichler's works are owned by the Deutsche Bank Collection. The 1996 exhibition "Joseph Beuys / Walter Pichler. Drawings," conceived by Deutsche Bank, juxtaposed a significant group of Beuys drawings with paper works by the 1936-born Austrian. Silke Hohmann introduces the inventor of the "Portable Living Room.""



"In the sixties, after studying at the Hochschule für Architektur in Vienna, he worked with his friend, the internationally renowned architect Hans Hollein, on a new concept of architecture. In 1963, the two exhibited together at the Galerie nächst St. Stephan under the title Architecture. Hollein and he explored utopian architectonic designs; they countered the growing subdivision of the city with a larger modernist vision made from cement, declaring architecture "freed from the constraints of building." This statement can easily be extended to the TV helmet if one were to view it not merely as a blinding device, but conversely as a free-thinking extension of space: who needs four walls when you can have the whole world?

In his media-theoretical standard work Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, which was published in Germany one year after Pichler exhibited his TV helmet, Marshall McLuhan famously declared that "the medium is the message." At first, McLuhan was interpreted in just as one-dimensional a way: the culturally pessimistic interpretation of his thesis was that the technical device is so powerful that it even functions without content. Stupidity, social and physical disorders, conformism seemed inevitable. Yet McLuhan was far more the sober observer and affirmative analyzer than a warning Cassandra.

To understand the cultural significance of Pichler's TV Helmet, it is irrelevant whether or not the work was conceived as a cynical commentary on the social isolation resulting from excessive TV viewing—even while it seems improbable that the studied architect, a perfectionist, would have been satisfied with a work motivated solely by sociological concerns. Whatever his intentions, the work—together with only a very few other works, such as Ivan Sutherland's Head mounted display of the same year—marks the quantum leap of the physical into the virtual world. It addresses less the individual psyche than it seeks to redefine space. "
art  architecture  spacesuits  walterpichler  sculpture  helmets 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Neil Armstrong’s Spacesuit Was Made by a Bra Manufacturer | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine
"In reality, once helmet, gloves and an oxygen-supplying backpack were added, it was a wearable spacecraft."
spacesuits  space  neilarmstrong  nasa  2013  apollo 
november 2013 by robertogreco
WSC [The Welsh Space Campaign]
"The Welsh Space Campaign launches ordinary Welsh people into outer space, by finding cosmic context for Welsh culture, skills and traditions.

A plumber has built a pressure system for the spacesuit, a traditional clog maker had made space clogs, and the last remaining wool mills in Wales have provided material for the space suit.

I aim to reveal that Wales has the capacity to explore space, and to show that off-world culturalisation can be achieved through a collective communitarian effort; aa a way to allow people involved to reconsider their role and skill in relation to these cosmic contexts."

[See also: http://we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/2013/06/the-welsh-space-campaign.php ]
space  spacesuits  wales  welsh  helfinjones  craft  wool  collective  community  wmmna 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Your Body Is a Spaceship: A Cyborg History | Motherboard
"But what if these guys–not just Final Frontier but space suit designers all over the globe–are approaching the problem from the wrong direction? What if it's not the suits that need designing, but the people wearing them? Strangely, this question beats at the heart of the history of space suit design."
claireevans  spacesuits  cyborgs  bodies  human  humans  humanbody  history  body 
february 2013 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Spacesuit: An Interview with Nicholas de Monchaux
"I was looking for a way to discuss the essential lessons of complexity and emergence—which, even in 2003, were pretty unfamiliar words in the context of design—and I hit upon this research on the spacesuit as the one thing I’d done that could encapsulate the potential lessons of those ideas, both for scientists and for designers. The book really was a melding of these two things."

"But then the actual spacesuit—this 21-layered messy assemblage made by a bra company, using hand-stitched couture techniques—is kind of an anti-hero. It’s much more embarrassing, of course—it’s made by people who make women’s underwear—but, then, it’s also much more urbane. It’s a complex, multilayered assemblage that actually recapitulates the messy logic of our own bodies, rather than present us with the singular ideal of a cyborg or the hard, one-piece, military-industrial suits against which the Playtex suit was always competing.

The spacesuit, in the end, is an object that crystallizes a lot of ideas about who we are and what the nature of the human body may be—but, then, crucially, it’s also an object in which many centuries of ideas about the relationship of our bodies to technology are reflected."

"The same individuals and organizations who were presuming to engineer the internal climate of the body and create the figure of the cyborg were the same institutions who, in the same context of the 1960s, were proposing major efforts in climate-modification.

Embedded in both of those ideas is the notion that we can reduce a complex, emergent system—whether it’s the body or the planet or something closer to the scale of the city—to a series of cybernetically inflected inputs, outputs, and controls. As Edward Teller remarked in the context of his own climate-engineering proposals, “to give the earth a thermostat.”"

"most attempts to cybernetically optimize urban systems were spectacular failures, from which very few lessons seem to have been learned"

"architecture can be informed by technology and, at the same time, avoid what I view as the dead-end of an algorithmically inflected formalism from which many of the, to my mind, less convincing examples of contemporary practice have emerged"

"connections…between the early writing of Jane Jacobs…and the early research done in the 1950s and 60s on complexity and emergence under the aegis of the Rockefeller Foundation"

"Geoffrey West and Luis Bettencourt—who have gone a long way in showing that, not only should cities be viewed through the analogical lens of complex natural systems, but, in fact, some of the mathematics—in particular, to do with scaling laws, the consumption of resources, and the production of innovation by cities—proves itself far more susceptible to analyses that have come out of biology than, say, conventional economics."
militaryindustrialcomplex  tools  cad  gis  luisbettencourt  janejacobs  meatropolis  manhattan  meat  property  fakestates  alancolquhoun  lizdiller  cyberneticurbanism  glenswanson  parametricarchitecture  parametricurbanism  interstitialspaces  urbanism  urban  bernardshriever  simonramo  neilsheehan  jayforrester  housing  hud  huberthumphrey  vitruvius  naca  smartcities  nyc  joeflood  husseinchalayan  cushicle  michaelwebb  spacerace  buildings  scuba  diving  1960s  fantasticvoyage  adromedastrain  quarantine  systemsthinking  matta-clark  edwardteller  climatecontrol  earth  exploration  spacetravel  terraforming  humanbody  bodies  cyborgs  travel  mongolfier  wileypost  management  planning  robertmoses  cybernetics  materials  fabric  2003  stewartbrand  jamescrick  apollo  complexitytheory  complexity  studioone  geoffreywest  cities  research  clothing  glvo  wearables  christiandior  playtex  interviews  technology  history  design  science  fashion  nasa  books  spacesuits  architecture  space  bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  2012  nicholasdemonchaux  wearable  elizabethdiller  interstitial  bod 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Spacesuit and Cities | SPUR - San Francisco Planning + Urban Research Association
"The twenty-one-layer spacesuit, Nicholas de Monchaux argues, offers an object lesson. It tells us about redundancy and interdependence and about the distinctions between natural and man-made complexity; it teaches us to know the virtues of adaptation and to see the future as a set of possibilities rather than a scripted scenario. The relevance of this story to architecture and planning should be relevant through a system of metaphor alone -- clothing the body has provided inspiration for architecture from prehistory -- but history tells an even stranger story. By tracing the direct history of ideas of 'engineering man for space' into 1960s and 1970s urban proposals from RAND, HUD, and even the University of California and Oakland, de Monchaux presents an explicit argument on the continuing failure of technologically mediated design to adequately grasp the scope and complexity of urban situations."

[Includes a link to an image-rich .pdf]
ud  rand  architecture  clothing  off-script  adaptation  interdependence  redundancy  design  complexity  urbanism  urban  cities  spacesuits  2011  nicolasdemonchaux 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Suited for Space | Facebook
"This Smithsonian-sponsored Facebook page works in tandem with the content from the traveling exhibit "SUITED FOR SPACE," giving visitors some extra goodies as they walk through the gallery. Haven't seen it yet? TOUR SCHEDULE: http://bit.ly/spaceshow

The mission is to teach (and amaze) the public about the wonder of modern and historic spacesuits.

The goal of this Facebook page is provide additional content for folks in the exhibition gallery (or at home). The tabs on this page are geared specifically to panels in the traveling exhibition.

"Suited for Space" is a national traveling exhibition created by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The exhibition is generously supported by DuPont.

Welcome to SITES' "Suited for Space" Facebook page! Please feel free to share thoughts about our posts, ask us questions, or tell us about your visit…"
facebook  suitedforspace  exhibits  space  spacesuits  smithsonian 
november 2012 by robertogreco
The Spirit of the Spacesuit - NYTimes.com ["The success of this “soft” approach — ad hoc, individualistic, pragmatic — should be a lesson to us."]
"Props and costumes mattered in this theater of war. That NASA’s equipment should be painted white, and feature no military shields or corporate brands but only “USA,” “NASA” and the flag, was a deliberate decision by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Yet American rockets were nevertheless cobbled together from instruments of war, their craftsmen drawn from the same network of systems engineers that was devised to manage the arms race and its doomsday scenarios. Our first astronauts went to space hunched into an improvised capsule atop ICBM’s, squatting in place of warheads. The brilliance with which the resulting achievements shone was — like a diamond’s — the result of terrible pressure. We should be glad that this era is past.

But if the dazzling image of midcentury spaceflight obscures its dark origins, close scrutiny of the Apollo spacesuit reveals a different and more robust approach to innovation — one that should inspire us at this uncertain moment in space exploration."
space  spacerace  history  war  2011  ingenuity  nicholasdemonchaux  via:javierarbona  spaceexploration  spacesuits  spaceflight  coldwar  adhoc  innovation  nasa  us  bureaucracy  militaryindustrialcomplex  possibility  optimism  dwightdeisenhower 
july 2011 by robertogreco
The City Is A Battlesuit For Surviving The Future - Future metro - io9
"If you'll excuse the spoiler, the zenith of Hawksmoor's adventures with cities come when he finds the purpose behind the modifications - he was not altered by aliens but by future humans in order to defend the early 21st century against a time-travelling 73rd century Cleveland gone berserk. Hawksmoor defeats the giant, monstrous sentient city by wrapping himself in Tokyo to form a massive concrete battlesuit.

Cities are the best battlesuits we have.

It seem to me that as we better learn how to design, use and live in cities - we all have a future."
design  mattjones  technology  urbanplanning  architecture  urbanism  scifi  postarchitectural  psychology  cities  archigram  comics  urban  future  danhill  adamgreenfield  janejacobs  warrenellis  christopherwren  psychogeography  kevinslavin  detroit  nyc  dubai  mumbai  masdrcity  fiction  film  spacesuits  battlesuits 
september 2009 by robertogreco

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