Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo

Front Cover
MIT Press, 2011 - Design - 364 pages
16 Reviews

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the lunar surface in July of 1969, they wore spacesuits made by Playtex: twenty-one layers of fabric, each with a distinct yet interrelated function, custom-sewn for them by seamstresses whose usual work was fashioning bras and girdles. This book is the story of that spacesuit. It is a story of the triumph over the military-industrial complex by the International Latex Corporation, best known by its consumer brand of "Playtex" -- a victory of elegant softness over engineered hardness, of adaptation over cybernetics.

Playtex's spacesuit went up against hard armor-like spacesuits designed by military contractors and favored by NASA's engineers. It was only when those attempts failed--when traditional engineering firms could not integrate the body into mission requirements--that Playtex, with its intimate expertise, got the job.

In Spacesuit, Nicholas de Monchaux tells the story of the twenty-one-layer spacesuit in twenty-one chapters addressing twenty-one topics relevant to the suit, the body, and the technology of the twentieth century. He touches, among other things, on eighteenth-century androids, Christian Dior's New Look, Atlas missiles, cybernetics and cyborgs, latex, JFK's carefully cultivated image, the CBS lunar broadcast soundstage, NASA's Mission Control, and the applications of Apollo-style engineering to city planning. The twenty-one-layer spacesuit, 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.

  

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Review: Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo

User Review  - Ron - Goodreads

Incredible tour of the politics, culture, science and industry behind the Apollo spacesuit. Read full review

Review: Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo

User Review  - Chuck - Goodreads

Strange book. The author makes many tangential detours, some are interesting and some are not. The parts about the suit, it's history, development and construction are very good and the sections on ... Read full review

Contents

2 SpaceSuit
13
3 The New Look
27
4 The New Look in Defense Planning
35
5 Flight and Suits
55
6 Cyborg
67
7 Flight Suit to Space Suit
79
8 Man in Space
107
9 Bras and the Battlefield
115
14 Handmade
207
15 Hard Suit 1
227
16 Weve Got a Signal
249
17 Hard Suit 2
261
18 Control Space
271
19 Cities and Cyborgs
297
20 21 Layers
315
21 Conclusion
327

10 JFK
131
11 Contractual Physiology
149
12 Simulation
163
13 The Moon Suit Plays Football
181
Illustration Credits
345
Index
351
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Nicholas de Monchaux is Assistant Professor of Architecture at the College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley. His work has appeared in the architectural journalLog, the New York Times, theNew York Times Magazine, Architectural Digest,and other publications.

Bibliographic information