Spacesuit : Fashioning Apollo, Hardback Book

Description

How the twenty-one-layer Apollo spacesuit, made by Playtex, was a triumph of intimacy over engineering.

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.

Information

  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 380 pages, 26 color illus., 114 b&w illus.; 140 Illustrations, unspecified
  • Publisher: MIT Press Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Astronautics
  • ISBN: 9780262015202

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