Space Suit of the Week

The illustrations above are from the book First Men to the Moon authored by Wernher von Braun and illustrated by Fred Freeman. If you’re a little rusty on cold-war era aeronautics history, von Braun was the preeminent rocket scientist during the space race. He pioneered missile and projectile technology for Germany, then the U.S. Army, then NASA, where he lead the development of the Saturn 5 rocket that carried the Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon.

But when von Braun wasn’t busy building revolutionary rockets, he found time to write a few books; books that fueled public interest in space exploration. He dedicated First Men to the Moon to his daughters 9 years before his rocket design would actually carry the first men to the moon. Working closely with von Braun to illustrate the book was Fred Freeman, who according to the book’s jacket, was “a member of the original space symposium which included Wernher von Braun, Mr. Freeman has worked closely with the author on the preparation of this book to achieve meaningful coordination of drawings and text.”

What I really like about these drawings is that they’re intended as explanations; to explain how space travel could be not only possible, but practical. Yet, the drawings raise a lot of questions. You may wonder, like me, why someone would carry a tank that included a mixture of oxygen and helium to the moon (balloon party!) instead of oxygen and nitrogen as in our atmosphere. Or you may wonder about the Captain-Hook-goes-to-space “tentacle glove” the astronaut carries which he apparently uses to write down data on his knee pads. Or you may ask yourself how delicious the toothpaste tube full of pureed food he’s squeezing into his mouth must be.

Found via Paleofuture


December 10, 2010