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New NASA Book Reveals Pressure Suits are Height of Fashion

The agency has published a coffe table book tracing the development of protective clothing worn by pilots and astronauts.

Astronauts and fashion don't always go hand-in-hand or do they? You might be surprised.

In fact, NASA has recently published a colorful, coffetable book outlining the development and use of the protective clothing worn by test pilots, astronauts and others as they soar high above Earth. 

There's more an atronaut's outer layer than meets the eye.

"Dressing for Altitude: U.S. Aviation Pressure Suits -- Wiley Post to Space Shuttle" is a 526-page survey of the partial- and full-pressure suits designed to keep humans alive at the edge of space since their first use during the years before World War II. Pressure suits are not the spacesuits worn by spacewalking astronauts, says NASA.

The book explores the challenges the clothiers-turned-engineers faced in designing a garment that could be relatively lightweight, flexible, inflatable, and still keep an ejecting pilot safe at high altitude and in the water. 

"This work is designed to provide the history of the technology and explore the lessons learned through the years of research in creating, testing, and utilizing today's high-altitude suits," said Tony Springer of NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington, says NASA. 

Dennis R. Jenkins, a writer, engineer and manager with 30 years of experience working on NASA programs, including the space shuttle, wrote the book and assembled its photographs and illustrations. Jenkins said he became interested in the topic especially after studying the work and dedication of Goodrich and David Clark Co., the two major companies responsible for most of the pressure suit's development through the years, NASA says. 

"I knew little about pressure suits going into the book, so the entire process was a learning exercise to me," Jenkins said. 

To order printed copies of the coffee-table-style book from NASA's Information Center, visit: 

hq.nasa.gov/office/hqlibrary/ic/ic2.htm

To download an e-book version of the book in PDF format at no charge, visit: 

nasa.gov/connect/ebooks/

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