Sunday, October 28, 2012

Space Suit

Spanish Colonel Don Emilio Herrera Linares designed and built a full pressure suit (escafandra estratonautica) in 1935, which was to have been used during an open-basket balloon stratospheric flight scheduled for early 1936.
The Spanish Civil War intervened. Herrera chose the Republican side, and the rubberized silk suit was cannibalized to make rain ponchos for Republican troops. In 1939 he fled to France, where he died in exile in 1967.
Herrera's suit featured an inner airtight garment (tested in the bathtub in his flat in Seville), covered by an accordion-like, pleated and jointed metallic frame. Joints were made for the shoulders, hips, elbows, knees and the fingers. When tested at Cuatro Vientos Experimental Station, the suit's pressurized mobility was found to be "thoroughly satisfactory", according to its inventor. If this was he case, it means that he solved one of the main problems of pressure suit design decades before B F Goodrich or David Clark!

Photo: Nationaal Archief @ Flickr

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