Author Topic: Apollo and Playtex  (Read 609 times)

Offline gillianren

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Apollo and Playtex
« on: December 10, 2020, 11:24:41 PM »
A friend of mine gave me a book for my birthday called The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History, by Kassia St. Clair.  It has about a dozen chapters, each about a different aspect of fabric history, and Chapter 11 is called "Under Pressure: Suits Suitable For Space."

Now, I don't post much in this section on the grounds of not being much into engineering, but really, I cannot recommend this book enough, particularly this chapter.  I've long said that those women making the suits likely didn't know enough about engineering to know exactly what the requirements were for a space suit, and I stand by that.  Especially because it turns out they essentially had a translator--someone who turned what they actually produced into the official documentation NASA required.  Each suit came with a foot-high stack of paperwork about its construction, and the women who made the suits didn't use a sheet of it.

On the other hand, they definitely did know how to do the things they were told they needed to do, and many suit innovations were based on what is called, in the industry, "foundation garments."  It turns out that a lot of techniques used to move bits of the human body into places deemed more aesthetically appealing were useful in keeping the pressure garments together.

It also turns out that drives to move away from soft, sewn spacesuits injure astronauts, which I didn't know.  Does anyone know anything more about that?
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Offline Zakalwe

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Re: Apollo and Playtex
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2020, 06:31:20 AM »
"The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' " - Isaac Asimov

Offline raven

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Re: Apollo and Playtex
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2020, 02:55:02 AM »
The Moon Machines episode on the spacesuit also made for interesting viewing, even if the narrator was a trifle on the dry side.

Offline JayUtah

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Re: Apollo and Playtex
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2020, 11:15:55 AM »
I believe it's in Carrying the Fire where Mike Collins writes so lovingly about the "ladies and their glue pots."  Thanks for the book recommendation, though.  My brother was just asking me last night about Christmas gift ideas.
"Facts are stubborn things." --John Adams

Offline gillianren

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Re: Apollo and Playtex
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2020, 12:16:35 PM »
Oh, it's amazing.  There's a whole chapter at the end on the theoretical feasibility of spider silk for human use.
"This sounds like a job for Bipolar Bear . . . but I just can't seem to get out of bed!"

"Conspiracy theories are an irresistible labour-saving device in the face of complexity."  --Henry Louis Gates