My Apollo Era Space Suit Project

Dress for the job you want

Last year, I read Adam Savage's Book Every Tool Is A Hammer and it would be an understatement to say that it fundamentally changed how I thought about making things. I had a sudden explosion of creativity that happened to coincide quite nicely with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. My obsession with all things space hit an all time high, and my overwhelming urge to create caused me to go to Lowes and buy a disposable paint coverall and get to work on something. I also wanted to do it for very, very cheap.


Over the first couple weeks of the project, I learned enough about the A7L Extravehicular Mobility unite (EMU) to write a college thesis on. It was an absolutely fascinating system of fabric, metal, glass, and silicon. I learned what each nozzle did, where every button on the control system was located, how the helmet attached, how the gloves kept their flexibility under pressurization, how the suit was donned, even the exact dimensions of the mission patch. I could not have done this without the RPF community, and I spent a lot of time going through the forum and looking at how other people approached each part of the suit.


I spent a lot of time sketching the suit in my notebook. This I really think helped me get familiar with each part of the suit.


I know I just wrote an entire paragraph labelled "Preparation" but to be honest, I pretty much winged it when it came to building the actual suit. I knew how the air was cycled through the helmet to keep oxygen flowing and keep the visor from fogging, but that didn't help me figure out how to attach 3D printed nozzles to a nylon surface. One of my favorite instances of just "winging it" was with the gloves. The material used for the actual flight ready gloves as a mix of silicon and titanium weave, which gave them that signature shiny gray look. I was very unsure how I would do the gloves, so I started purchasing other components I knew generally how to make. I came home, set the Lowes shopping bags on my work surface, and noticed that the Lowes bag had a nice gray color... and it was very easy to work with.. And the lightbulb lit up. I just up the bags into strips, bought some kitchen cleaning gloves, and literally just hot glued strips of plastic bag to the glove. The result was surprisingly not awful.

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Most of the building process was improvisation similar to this. Random methods held together loosely with hot glue. The neck ring was a home depot bucket my HOA had so nicely left on my front porch since the previous winter, I used washing machine ducts for bulking up the arms, and furniture foam for adding definition to the body of the suit. If you are interested in the step-by-step stuff, I recorded it in an RPF forum post.