JAIC 1992, Volume 31, Number 1, Article 9 (pp. 77 to 85)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1992, Volume 31, Number 1, Article 9 (pp. 77 to 85)

HISTORY, CARE, AND HANDLING OF AMERICA'S SPACESUITS: PROBLEMS IN MODERN MATERIALS

MARY T. BAKER, & ED MCMANUS


ABSTRACT—Manned spaceflight was a pivotal achievement in U.S. history, and the spacesuits used are testimony to the interdisciplinary talents and technological achievements involved in reaching this goal. Unfortunately, the materials in these suits are deteriorating rapidly, endangering our only records of some stages of the space race technology. Some materials are degrading due to poor manufacturing techniques made necessary by the push to “win the space race.” Others are deteriorating due to conditions to which they were exposed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) testing and use. Present methods of display and storage of these artifacts are not sufficient to delay the degradation process and, in many cases, are accelerating it. Treatment and storage decisions for these objects are not simple, as the suits contain a variety of materials, including metals, synthetic and natural textiles, synthetic and natural plastics, rubber and adhesives, as well as paints and varnishes; clearly, an interdisciplinary approach to their conservation is needed. The history of spacesuit care to date, results of preliminary testing, and some proposed storage and exhibit conditions for these materials are discussed.

Article Sections:

1. INTRODUCTION
2. A HISTORY OF SPACESUIT COLLECTING AND CARE
3. PRESENT METHODS OF DISPLAY AND STORAGE
4. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STORAGE AND EXHIBITION
5. CONCLUSION
a: References , Author Information
Entire Article

Copyright 1992 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works