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Spacesuits: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Collection Hardcover – May 5, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: powerHouse Books (May 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576874982
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576874981
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.8 x 12.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Amanda Young is a museum specialist in Spacesuits and Astronaut Equipment for the Division of Space History of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. She was responsible for the Air and Space portion of “American Festival Japan ‘94”, a major exhibit in Tokyo, and in 2001 co-wrote the collections care booklet The Preservation, Storage and Display of Spacesuits. She was also a contributor to Extreme Textiles: Designing for High Performance (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005) and After Sputnik: 50 Years of the Space Age (Collins, 2007). She continues to conduct research into the causes of spacesuit deterioration.

Mark Avino In the Cockpit: Inside 50 History-Making Aircraft (Collins Design, 2007) and At the Controls: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Book of Cockpits (Boston Mills Press, 2001). A graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, he joined the Smithsonian Institution in 1983. He lives with his wife and three children in Burke, Virginia.

Allan A. Needell is the Curator of Human Space Flight in the Division of Space History at the National Air and Space Museum. He has published on the history of physics, the origins of American national laboratories, and government/science relations. He is the author of a study of the career of a major American science administrator, Science, Cold War and the American State: Lloyd V. Berkner and the Balance of Professional Ideals (Routledge, 2000). Needell joined the National Air and Space Museum in 1981 and is currently responsible for the museum’s Apollo space flight collection.

Thomas P. Stafford is a retired Lieutenant General of the U.S. Air Force and a former NASA astronaut. Stafford piloted Gemini VI, the first rendezvous in space (1965), and commanded the Apollo 10 lunar mission (1969) and the historic Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (1975). He is the recipient of many awards in aviation and honorary degrees from American universities.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I found the construction details fascinating.
Lee Bishop
It has so much information and belongs in our National Air & Space Museum of the Smithsonian.
Sara Howard
I strongly recommend you buy this book and keep it on your prized bookshelf.
M. Franta

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Young on May 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is a one of a kind with insight into the history, construction and space program using the history of the spacesuit as a timeline. The photographs taken by a professional at the National Air and Space Museum are pure artwork. Suits from all of the early manned space flights, as well as prototypes never seen before are displayed in this book. The author is an National expert on spacesuit history, construction and preservation. The book is more than a pictorial history- it is a museum gallery of exquisite photographs of the spacesuits in our National collections. This book is easy to read and gives details so experts in the field are also educated by the material in this book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Schwarz Guido on May 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a must for every serious space collector and space enthusiast. The content is written with scientific perfection - but without an academic language. The photos and radiographic images are fantastic and never seen before. Also the part about how to preserve, store and display spacesuits is interesting. And there is a list with all suits of the NASA collection. I'd give six stars if it were possible.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By B. Pohnan on September 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Spacesuits" easily ranks in the top five most interesting and illuminating "space" books that I have read in several decades. And the pictures are equally fascinating too!

A while back I had read that John Glenn's Mercury spacesuit had shrunk and is now very fragile. This didn't sound right. After all, common sense suggests that if these things are designed and built to withstand the rigors of outer space, they should last forever. Right?

Wrong!

Museum Specialist Amanda Young starts off this saga by providing nicely detailed, but not burdensome, descriptions of the various spacesuit types and different models thereof in the Smithsonian's Collection. If you believe that you know all there is to know about U.S. spacesuits (like I did), you're in for one very big surprise. There are so many variations, not just of the suits themselves, but of the helmets and gloves as well, that it's a wonder anyone could keep track of them. A detailed listing of the suits in the collection appears at the end of the book. It is about 10 pages long and the font size is not large.

But where this book and Ms. Young really shine is when she discusses the problems of preserving and displaying these priceless national treasures. Her prose is clear, concise, and devoid of the baggage one usually sees when the writer is attempting to impress the reader. It doesn't take long to realize that the author is someone for whom these suits are not abstract objects. One can easily tell that Young has touched, examined, probed, and hefted spacesuits all the way from Alan Shepard's Mercury suit to Tom Stafford's Apollo-Soyuz suit.

The deterioration of some of these suits is both devastating and disturbing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By aviationitemsandmore on July 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book shows spacesuits from as early as Wiley Post to the present
Space Shuttle program. Even includes suits from the MOL Program and
experimental ones. Suits, helmets, gloves, and boots are shown. There
is also a list of suits in the NASM collection. However, there are no
photos of the early Space Shuttle Program USAF type suits and the blue
flightsuits/gear. Other related books include: U.S. Space Gear
Outfitting the Astronaut by Lillian D. Kozloski and US Spacesuits by
Kenneth S. Thomas and Harold J. McMann. I would like for someone to
write books on the following: Flown spacesuits from Mercury to ASTP and
the Shuttle program; NASA spaceflight survival gear and tools; NASA
flightsuits, jackets, and gear; U.S. military high altitude suits.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lee Bishop on August 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book at the gift shop of the Air & Space Museum in DC. Thumbing through it, I couldn't put it down. After going through the book much later, I feel I still made a good call buying it. I'm well read on historic military aviation flight gear and thought I knew a passing amount about space suits. Oh, how wrong I was. This book made it clear how little the public really understands about the garments that carried men to the Moon. One example is a mention of the helmets on the Apollo suits. I had no idea that the helmets you see in the photos from the Moon are, in fact, covers with visors that went over the real pressure helmets and were all left on the Moon.
I found the construction details fascinating. I never would have guessed that modern synthetics were used so little in the production of these suits, as well as the short lifespan intended. I was shocked to read how badly many of them have weathered the years since their use. The author does an admirable job explaining the fragile nature of these older suits and the problems with their preservation. The reader is left saddened at photographs of some components now completely dissolved and poorly preserved suits now permanently "flat" from lying on shelves for years. The book also has keen insight from Apollo 10 astronaut Tom Stafford, putting balance to what might have been dismissed as a simple artifact analysis.
The only issues I would take up with the book would be there was little on how the suits were to wear. The author described some suits as "comfortable," which I doubt would be agreed with by the men who wore them. The timeframes involved also kept the author from going further into the details of the suits themselves.
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