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Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/23/2011 1:12 PM

I'm curious as to why space suits were first silver colored. Wouldn't the same reasons that they are now white, have been valid reasons to make them white in the first place?

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#1

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/23/2011 4:41 PM

Advances in materials and manufacturing techniques over time means that 'best available' is highly dependent on the time to which you are referring.

..

It is also noteworthy that the radiative selectivity of materials or surface treatments are not easily distinguished by the color we perceive.

..

You have likely surfaces outside very similar in color that are vastly different in temperature when left out in the sun for a long period....some concrete and some white beach sand gets very hot left in the sun....other surfaces painted white do not get so hot.

..

The importance is not the rate radiation is absorbed nor the rate it is re-radiated back out. What is important is the difference in the two rates.

..

All other things being equal, things that absorb much more rapidly than they radiate get hotter than things that radiate at rates closer to their rate of absorption.

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#2

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/23/2011 4:47 PM

As a point of note... back when space suits were silver colored (up to and including Mercury), they were never intended for exiting the vehicle (i.e. space walking). They were only basically pressure suits. So it still makes me wonder why they were silver.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/23/2011 5:16 PM

So the duct tape wouldn't show?

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#13
In reply to #3

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/24/2011 9:04 AM

That is a good one! Ha! Ha!

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#4

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/23/2011 6:39 PM

The outer layer back then was aluminized nylon (silver colored). I suppose they used the heat-resistant technology developed for open hearths and firefighting. White wasn't important yet.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/23/2011 7:58 PM

Ah! For re-entry! Just in case it got hotter in there than they anticipated?

By Apollo, they realized that it wouldn't get that hot, and if it did, no kind of suit would save them.

But then again, aluminized nylon isn't fire resistant. Is it heat resistant? I didn't know those heat blankets were made of nylon.

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#14
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/24/2011 9:07 AM

Temperature resistant. After the Apollo I fire (the suits melted together), NASA added flame resistance (or actually HIGH temperature resistance if you will) and went to Beta Cloth. But, the aluminized nylon was pretty good at moderate temperatures and didn't rip easily.

I did a fire safety course not long ago and stood there in shock watching the instructor show us extinguishing techniques while he was wearing polyester clothing. Oi!

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#20
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/25/2011 11:12 AM

I also remember that Erick Von Daniken reported that a fragment of fabric had been found in the Andes that had a 2000+ thread per inch count. He conjectured that it belonged to the ancient gods. It is interesting to note that this is somewhat beyond 'modern' capabilities.

There are also some interpreted accounts that many ancient tribes had witnessed ancient gods in space suits. (Von Daniken again)

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#22
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/25/2011 3:33 PM

Very Cool!

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#23
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/25/2011 4:43 PM

I think so... so it is cool if one is open to it...

round here... people tend to politely look the other way if I bring such things up...

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#24
In reply to #23

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/25/2011 5:13 PM

Thats too bad, there is way too much actually carved in the stone that would lead me to the direction that, well, Carl Sagan is right, it would be an awful waste of space if there is no other life out there.

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#27
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

11/13/2012 11:21 PM

I am open to pretty much anything if somebody shows me some evidence for it. I was a global warming denier (or at least, sceptic) until GW was shown to be the best guess projected result of a very long and solid chain of evidence. Ghosties, UFO's and all things "paranormal" are not supported by such evidence.

I am minded of that great scene in "the Messenger" when the inquisitor was asking Joan where she got the sword, she said "I prayed for a sign and the sword was right there". The inquisitor then pointed out four or five other ways the sword could have got there, all without supposing the actions of a divine being. And all more likely.

As Grissom would say..."What do we do now? Why, we follow the evidence." When we have a preconceived idea of what we want to see, then all the evidence will seem to point that way. In the case of a Von Daniken, it really does not make much difference one way or t'other, but as the cases of a Donald Marshall, James Driskell, David Milgaard, Thomas Sophenow, and hundreds of others, the methods used by Von Daniken are criminal at best, and evil at worst.

Therefore I do not put any stock in poor scientific methodology. Too bad because by gosh, wouldn't it be kuul if Von Daniken was right! But, I fear, the evidence does not support his hypothesis. His was a case of "here is the answer, what evidence can I find which supports it?" His evidence, such as it is, unfortunately supports a hundred other, more mundane hypotheses.

(so you see Chris, I don't politely look the other way...grin!)

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#28
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

11/14/2012 1:59 AM

'....I was a global warming denier (or at least, sceptic) until GW was shown to be the best guess projected result of a very long and solid chain of evidence.....'

.

Whoa! That's one I haven't heard! Who made this prediction, and how long before the election fiasco settled was their certainty GW would be the 43rd President?

.

Moreover, how is this related to anthropomorphic changes in atmospheric composition? I have never heard anyone suggest he was a contributing factor beyond his policies that affected productivity and cleanliness standards, even with many great minds contendiing G'Dubbya is a strong competitor for the worst president of all time.

While it is difficult to fault their arguments, GDubbya still deserves respect (even if he moonlights as some sort of CO2 demon), after all there have been less than 50 Presidents of the United States of America, ever. That is a very elite group.

It is kind of like an astonishingly bad medical student...once he graduates med school and completes residency, he is a Doctor. His horrific mistakes result in a lot of time in the court room, but even there, the is afforded the respected title of Doctor.

Presidents are a far more elite group than doctors. As such Presidents should rightly still be afforded respect even when the number of lives they mangle is orders of magnitude greater.

.

Anyway, I'm just curious how he fits in with the whole gassy science controversy. (and perhaps I'm stirring the water a little to see what jumps)

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#29
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

11/14/2012 8:32 AM

I have no idea what you are on about. Whats a GDubbya?

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#30
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

11/14/2012 12:35 PM

43rd US President

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#31
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

11/14/2012 1:52 PM

I think you misinterpreted Yusef1's statement. GW = Global Warming, not George W Bush, though I would rather have him back then the current croney.....again stirring the waters.

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#34
In reply to #31

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

11/14/2012 9:33 PM

AHhh. Right you are.

How presumptuous of me!.

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#33
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

11/14/2012 7:54 PM

"In the case of a Von Daniken, it really does not make much difference one way or t'other, but as the cases of a Donald Marshall, James Driskell, David Milgaard, Thomas Sophenow, and hundreds of others, the methods used by Von Daniken are criminal at best, and evil at worst"

that confuses me... apparently these people are exonerated ex-convicts... but VD is not worthy of exoneration? I think his claims have borne up rather well by time and technology, and have been even amplified by another of my heroes; Zecharia Sitchin.

are you also JohnnyCanuck?

Perhaps I too, want to believe. :-)

Chris

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#35
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

11/15/2012 8:40 AM

Ah, me too man. I like Eric's books and Zecharia Sitchin is a fine example that women are from Venus, men are from Mars and the credulous are from Nibiru. I would love to believe. Fortunately for Fox News and the History Channel, it really does not matter what I think, and very fortunate for the (insert deity or spokesman for same of your choice) it really does not matter what I believe.

Eric Von D. uses bad science. The same bad science was used to convict those guys I used in my previous example. Thats WHY bad science is ... bad. Very bad, IMHO it is very nearly criminal, and is certainly a tool of evil. Other forms of bad science include, but of course are not limited to homeopathy, magnetic bracelets, all forms of so called para normal activities, historical technology and medicines not approved by the FDA. You can make your own list...I know you to be a smart guy.

Eric Von D. can not be exonerated because he is not a criminal. Telling a lie is not a crime otherwise I would go after the guy who sold me that Ford Focus last year!

It is not Eric Von D. who I call out...he is merely a mosquito on the windshield of my disgust...but there are so many of them now that, like driving in Winnipeg in June, enough mosquitoes can obscure even the fine view of reality based science. And there are SO many! Great people like Carl Sagan, James Randi, Penn and Teller are the windshield wipers. (Talk about pushing an analogy!)

Anyway....a nice collection of gnats and mosquitoes can be found here. Here, right on the front page is a fine example of what I am talking about. The pyramids are a mulitiple of "pi". So they must have known good enough math to be able to solve for pi right? Wrong. Take a wheel one cubit in diameter. Put a handle on that wheel, Roll off a hundred turns to mark the length of the sides of your pyramid. Well what do you know! We have a mulitiple of pi! Whole books of speculation about "pyamid inches" and other nonsense just became obsolete in the glaring light of science.

Ah well. Such is life. So long as we don't have homeopathic methods used to build bridges, I am reasonably content.

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#36
In reply to #35

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

11/15/2012 10:36 AM

"Great people like Carl Sagan, James Randi, Penn and Teller are the windshield wipers."

lol lol lol rofl...

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#37
In reply to #35

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

11/16/2012 7:16 PM

Addendum....

Apparently there is a whole science based on homeopathy which is used to build bridges...that would be "Alternative Engineering".

Dr. Steve Novella tells us all about it here.

Though the article is totally tongue in cheek, the dangers of bad science are clearly illustrated...the usual buzz words like "well, people FEEL safer, who are you going to trust, numbers on a piece of paper or people's feelings", and of course the real kicker..."The American People are smart enough to choose for themselves what kind of engineered bridge they will drive over".

Doesn't that sound like "people are smart enough to be able to assess the risks of getting flue shots", (or insert the numbskull notion of your choice) conviently forgetting that people trust engineers and doctors inplicitly.

Anyway, as much fun as this is, I think I have squeezed all the juice out of this topic. I recommend "The Amazing Meeting" videos, the "Ted Talks", and Steven Novella's "Quack Watch" to see how many people are prepared to make money off of us and to see more, much more of bad science.

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#6

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/24/2011 12:53 AM
  • White space suit on space walks, reflects heat so that the astronauts don't get too hot.
  • Easy visibility against black space background.
  • When astronauts go in pair for EVA one of the suits always has red stripes in four places so the astronauts can tell one from the other.
  • Orange suit is worn during take off and landing so that if the crew has to parachute out of the spacecraft in an emergency they will be easier for rescue crews to spot.
  • Ease in detection of grease contamination to prevent explosive hazards working in pure oxygen environment.
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#7
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/24/2011 2:31 AM

Yeah I found that website too. I know why they are white. What I don't know is why they used to be silver. Silver, like in the 1950's sci-fi B movies.

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#8

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/24/2011 2:35 AM

I like Darth Vader's black space suit.

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#9
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/24/2011 2:38 AM

What else would we expect from the Dork Side of the Farce?

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#10
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/24/2011 4:17 AM

cruel, but farkin funny

Oh, a recently arrived OT on #9, luckily in 'edit time' wouldn't be Tornado as has sense of humour - so can only be one other - ummm I think I'll cancel it

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#12
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/24/2011 6:34 AM

Metinks it be worth a GA.

May the farce be with y'all.. :)

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#11
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/24/2011 4:35 AM

Dear Tornado,

I would like to thank you most kindly for injecting some humour here.

We always need humour, every day of our lives, so many, many thanks.

99.9999% of CR4 members appreciates you, but a few "Dorky" types got out of bed on the wrong side and don't......their problem, not yours or mine!!

We need them still to give us all a "heads up" that some people are simply mentally "broken". Nothing will ever change them.....

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#32
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

11/14/2012 1:56 PM

Oh my Goodness!!!!!

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#15

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/24/2011 3:24 PM

The original reason that the Mercury program spacesuits were silver was purely a PR thing. They could have been any color, but for the sake of good public relations photos, it was decided that silver fabric would be used.

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#16
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/24/2011 3:59 PM

Well if that is actually the reason, that would be fascinating. No offense, but I have to say, it does sound like an unlikely reason. But obviously, I don't know. What's your source on this?

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#17

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/24/2011 4:34 PM

Silver suits were for Mercury and Gemini and were made by Shell/BF Goodrich. They were adaptations of existing Navy pressure suits, though they were not pressurized and might not even have functioned as such. The inner layers were nylon but the outer layer was aluminized mylar.

ILC, together with Hamilton, got the contract for Apollo. That was when the switch to Beta Cloth occured.

The interested reader can find some details here or here or here.

You can also get this neat poster to see several suits.

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#18
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Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/24/2011 5:10 PM

Ooo... I DO like that poster!

Reminds me of a set of posters I had as a kid. US Military Uniforms... from The Revolution... all the way up to Viet Nam. Wish I still had those. Probably be worth a lot on eBay.

Curious as to what the Mars space suits will look like. I hear they're working on them.

Good info and links. GA.

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#25
In reply to #17

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/25/2011 7:18 PM

Nicely done.

Good to see you back in fighting shape.

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#19

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/25/2011 11:10 AM

All of this is very interesting!

I am now curious as to what the Russian and Chinese space programs suits are made of.

Does anyone have any info on these?

I grew up watching the tail end of Apollo and the dawning of the Shuttle programs and alway wanted to work for NASA. I haven't worked for NASA (yet!) but I have worked with NASA contractors.

I remember having a set of "Young and Crippen" Shuttle mission program patches clipped to my dresser mirror. My mother even let me stay home from school to watch the televised Shuttle test flights.

Ahhh... those were the days...

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#21
In reply to #19

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/25/2011 1:33 PM

Do you Google?

Here is a start.

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#26

Re: Space Suits: Silver or White?

07/25/2011 7:32 PM

Thanx to TVP45, and the links he provided, I was able to get the definitive answer to this question, right from the horses mouth. Here is the answer to my inquiry:

Hi,

I am the company historian at ILC and also support space suit related
work at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. I believe I can provide the
answer.

The earliest silver suits we are all familiar with are the Mercury space
suits that were made by B.F. Goodrich. That suit was a modified Mark IV
Navy high-altitude suit that was originally an olive green nylon
outer-cover.

The joke I tell folks is that the suits were made of the silver outer
color because none the "Original 7" astronauts were about have their
pictures taken in that olive-drab suit. Silver was much more sexy. I'm
not convinced that is the wrong answer but anyone within NASA would say
that they were concerned about the early manned missions and the heat
buildup on re-entry as well as possible radiation exposure so the result
was that Goodrich coated the outer nylon fabric with a silver spray. The
later David Clark Gemini & Apollo suits that we made had multiple layers
of aluminized mylar under the outer nomex then fiberglass layers.

I hope that helps you out.

Best regards,

Bill Ayrey
ILC Historian

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