I’ve been rooting around looking for interesting patents to explore and came across NASA’s Apollo Drawings and Technical Drawings page. I was looking for a couple of space-related patents and started with NASA’s website to see if I could narrow down specific items to research.  If you dig deep you’ll be rewarded with a treasure trove of documents, including some impressive technical drawing.

Command Module Main Control Panel  from Apollo Operations Handbook Block II Spacecraft  (October 15, 1969)

Command Module Main Control Panel
from Apollo Operations Handbook Block II Spacecraft
(October 15, 1969)

 

The drawings are high quality, allowing the viewer to zoom in close and see lots of detail. If you are a history or space buff, the NASA site is a must stop place. 

Tech ddrawing Large scale drawing from NASA's site of lunar module

Lunar module

 

All Dressed Up & Ready for a Space Walk 

Image from NASA tech drawings showing a space suit

The Shuttle space suit, to accommodate the large number of astronauts with widely varying body sizes, was designed to be made up of many interchangeable parts. These parts (upper and lower torso’s, arms, etc.) are fabricated at ILC in different sizes, inspected/tested, then shipped to Johnson Space Center (JSC) where they are inventoried for the astronaut corps.

What really grabbed my attention was a pdf document titled Space Suit Evolution From Custom Tailored To Off-The-Rack – a 28 page bonanza on the evolution of space suits.  I love the name Extravehicular Mobility Unit. That’s NASA talk for space suits for spacewalks.  

The immature child in me couldn’t stop giggling when I hit the Maximum Absorbency Garment (MAG). “The Maximum Absorbency Garment is worn under the LCVG and provides for hygienic collection, storage, and eventual transfer of astronaut urine and feces discharged during extravehicular activities”. 

Image from NASA tech drawing of astronaut underwear

Space underwear for the active astronaut

 

Astronaut underwear for those of us earthbound. The document hammered home the complexities of space travel. Scientists had to consider every aspect of safety, many that we take for granted. I never stopped to think about how astronauts go in space before this.  

After I stopped being juvenile, I popped back to Google Patents and did a search for Extravehicular Mobility Unit. Silly me – all I needed to do is look up space suits. I was surprised at how many patents were listed. Patent  #3,751,727 Apollo Space Suit was the one that captured me.

 ABSTRACT Disclosed is a pressure suit for high altitude flights and particularly space missions. The suit is designed for astronauts in the Apollo Space Program and may be worn both inside and outside a space vehicle, as well as on the lunar surface. It comprises an integrated assembly of inner comfort liner, intermediate pressure garment, and outer thermal protective garment with removable helmet and gloves. The pressure garment comprises an inner convoluted sealing bladder and outer fabric restraint to which are attached a plurality of cable restraint assemblies. It provides versatility in combination with improved sealing and increased mobility for internal pressures suitable for life support in the near vacuum of outer space

This patent was filed in 1968, a year before the July 1969 moon landing. It’s hard to tell if this is the actual patent for the suits used on the moon. It’s incredibly detailed, which shouldn’t be surprising given the source. I spend a lot of time trawling through patents, many of which are poorly written and badly illustrated, so, this one was pure pleasure.

Moon boots and ring adapter

Image from patent Apollo space boots

Apollo moon boots

Apollo patent image of boot rings

Boot rings for Apollo boots

The opening paragraph includes a synopsis of the development of space suits, including details on how the suit will improve an astronauts ability to move and perform duties while working independently from the space capsule:

This invention is directed to a pressure suit to be worn by human beings in a hostile environment, and more particularly is directed to a life support suit to be worn by U.S. astronauts in the Apollo Space Program. The suit is designed to provide life support not only within a space vehicle but also during extravehicular activities including exploration of the lunar surface. It may also be used by aircraft pilots during high altitude flights …A primary feature of the space suit of this invention involves the retention of a pressurized atmosphere about the astronaut in the vacuum of free space, while at the same time providing significantly increased mobility, both in the torso and the limbs, so that the astronaut may freely move about and perform useful tasks.

The total weight of the suit was 60lbs, including the helmet and protective shielding. Even in an environment with gravity, this would still be functional. It was designed to be useable ‘in the wild’ as well as inside a space vehicle:

Drawing showing Apollo space suit helment

For example, both the gloves and helmet are completely removable and may be taken off by the astronaut within the pressurized cabin of a space vehicle when it is not necessary to rely on the suit for life support.

Fascinating, isn’t it? The patent is available to download and the drawings are wallpaper worthy as well. I’ll leave you with one last image from the patent to enjoy.

Drawing of Apollo space suit from patent papers

This invention is directed to a pressure suit to be worn by human beings in a hostile environment, and more particularly is directed to a life support suit to be worn by US. astronauts in the Apollo Space Program.

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Nasa History website has a wealth of information – https://history.nasa.gov/diagrams

NASA’s Apollo Drawings and Technical Drawings – . https://history.nasa.gov/diagrams/apollo.html

Space Suit Evolution From Custom Tailored To Off-The-Rack  – https://history.nasa.gov/spacesuits.pdf 

Patent for A space suit for high altitude and space environments – https://patents.google.com/patent/US3751727A/en?q=extravehicular&q=mobility&q=suit&oq=extravehicular+mobility+suit

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