NASA patent & technical drawing bonanza

NASA patent & technical drawing bonanza

I’ve been rooting around looking for something interesting to explore and came across NASA Patents of 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.

Looking at a few Nasa patents

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

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

Diagram of lunar module

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 schematic

All Dressed Up & Ready for a Space Walk

Image from NASA tech drawings of 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.

Astronaut underwear

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.

Notes:

  1. Nasa History website has a wealth of information – https://history.nasa.gov/diagrams
  2. NASA’s Apollo Drawings and Technical Drawings – . https://history.nasa.gov/diagrams/apollo.html
  3. Space Suit Evolution From Custom Tailored To Off-The-Rack  – https://history.nasa.gov/spacesuits.pdf
  4. 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
Free NASA travel posters? I’m there!

Free NASA travel posters? I’m there!

Did you know NASA created travel posters? I didn’t until today.  Check out the artwork created by the Jet Propulsion Lab team. The hi-rez  “Visions of the Future” series is available to download in pdf and tiff format. And they are HUGE.

Travel posters for cosmos  – illustrator Liz Barrios De La Torre

Scan of NASA travel poster for Europa - illustrator Liz Barrios De La Torre

Travel to Europa

They print out @ 30″ x 20″, so you might need to trot down to the local print house to make a poster sized copy, but, the quality is worth it. Of course you can always shrink them down, but the posters deserve a full size printing and framing. The series also makes kickass wallpaper, by the way.  Under each poster is a small write up about the planet and NASA’s work regarding it.

 Astonishing geology and the potential to host the conditions for simple life make Jupiter’s moon Europa a fascinating destination for future exploration. Beneath its icy surface, Europa is believed to conceal a global ocean of salty liquid water twice the volume of Earth’s oceans. Tugging and flexing from Jupiter’s gravity generates enough heat to keep the ocean from freezing.
On Earth, wherever we find water, we find life. What will NASA’s Europa mission find when it heads for this intriguing moon in the 2020s?
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
www.jpl.nasa.gov

Get frosted on Saturn’s moon – illustrator Joby Harris

Visit Titan and be awed - another travel poster from NASA - illustrator Joby Harris

Visit Titan and be awed!

Frigid and alien, yet similar to our own planet billions of years ago, Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, has a thick atmosphere, organic-rich chemistry and a surface shaped by rivers and lakes of liquid ethane and methane. Cold winds sculpt vast regions of hydrocarbon-rich dunes. There may even be cryovolcanoes of cold liquid water. NASA’s Cassini orbiter was designed to peer through Titan’s perpetual haze and unravel the mysteries of this planet-like moon.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
www.jpl.nasa.gov

There are 15 in the series, and again, free to download and enjoy.  An absolute must is a visit to the “learn more” page to see the thinking involved in the creation process.  They have a great retro, 1950s  feel to them. The colours, design and content made me immediately flash onto my all time favourite sci fi movie  Forbidden Planet (1956) and travel posters of the era.  Turns out there’s a reason: “As for the style, we gravitated to the style of the old posters the WPA created for the national parks. There’s a nostalgia for that era that just feels good. David Delgado, creative strategy”.

Movie poster from Forbidden Planet 1956 - courtesy MGM

Forbidden Planet 1956 – courtesy MGM

Travel poster "Visit the Pacific Northwest" from 1950s

Train travel poster from the 50s

See what I mean – colours, style, fonts and concept certainly evoke the era.  It would have been amazing to sit in on the creative process.  Check out all the posters at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab’s Vision of the Future page – https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/visions-of-the-future/ You can download individual posters (each about 200megs in size) or download all of them at once.