Spacesuit History - Dressing For Altitude
September 6, 2012

New Book Offers History Of Flight Suits

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

NASA has published a book written by Dennis R. Jenkins about the development and use of clothing worn by test pilots, astronauts and others.

The book, called "Dressing for Altitude: Aviation Pressure Suits -- Wiley Post to Space Shuttle" is filled with colorful pictures that show off the innovations over the years of flight suits.

NASA said Dressing for Altitude contains a 526-page survey of the partial and full-pressure suits designed to keep humans alive at the edge of space.

The book explores the challenges the engineers who made the clothes faced in designing the suits to be lightweight, flexible, inflatable, and still capable of keeping an ejecting pilot safe at high altitude and in the water.

"This work is designed to provide the history of the technology and explore the lessons learned through the years of research in creating, testing, and utilizing today's high-altitude suits," Tony Springer of NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington said.

Jenkins is a writer, engineer and manager with 30 years of experience working on NASA programs including the space shuttle. He wrote the book and assembled its photographs and illustrations, according to NASA.

The author said he became interested in the topic after studying the work and dedication of Goodrich and David Clark Company, which are two companies responsible for most of the pressure suit's development over the years.

"I knew little about pressure suits going into the book, so the entire process was a learning exercise to me," Jenkins said.

A free-ebook copy of "Dressing for Altitude: Aviation Pressure Suits -- Wiley Post to Space Shuttle" is available on NASA's website, or a coffee-table version is available through the space agency for $75.