MERCURY ERA SPACESUIT.
AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF THE COVER LAYER FOR THE FAMOUS SILVER SPACESUIT OF THE MERCURY PROGRAM.
Cover layer from a Phase 2 Mercury era space suit, with early model "widow's peak" helmet, gloves, and mock-up boots. Aluminized nylon, approximately 63 inches tall. Detachable hard fiberglass helmet with aluminum helmet sealing ring, hinged polycarbonate visor securing to aluminum flange, lambskin ear cups, plastic communications microphone with part number "Roamwell Corp. 10387", rubber, plastic and metal electrical cable with part number "Deutsch DM 9609-12P", electrical cable helmet connector with part number "REDAR-281-W3, Bethesda, MD", rubber life support hose by R.E. Darling Co., with part number "REDAR 279-W2 CURED12-60". Neck with aluminum helmet sealing ring, two 4½ inch long vertical zippers, webbed nylon straps with metal snaps running from back to front of neck. The sleeves with four break-lines sewn into the shoulders, strap and buckle adjustments running parallel from elbow to wrist, adjustable lacing from shoulder to wrist covered with zip-up stretchable nylon cloth panels. Detachable gloves with aluminum sealing rings, strap and buckle adjustments around wrists and palms, as well as steel retention bars across palms to reduce pressurized ballooning. Upper entry zipper passing across chest, running from left shoulder to lower right waist, lower entry zipper running from right side of crotch, up around back and across hips to right hip, webbed nylon cross-chest strap, NASA Patch to right side of chest. Legs with four break-lines sewn into the knees, breathable mesh panels behind knees, 5 inch vertical zippers at ankles, elastic stirrups. Back with large lace adjustments covered with zip-up stretchable nylon cloth panel. No tags, helmet worn, visor cracked, several small holes and tears to fabric, stirrups torn, lace covers torn, cloth rubbed and discolored in places, gloves worn.
The first of the United States' manned flight programs, Project Mercury aimed successfully to place a spacecraft into earth orbit. Fabrication of the Mercury suits was started in 1959, and NASA selected the B.F. Goodrich Company for the task. The Mercury space suit was basically a modified version of the U.S. Navy's Mark IV high altitude pressure suit, with the most notable modification being an aluminized nylon outer layer to assist thermal control. The suits were very snug fitting, and the Phase 1 suits provided limited mobility while pressurized, especially in terms of bending the arms and legs in the second Phase of the suit, break-lines were sewn into the shoulders, knees and elbows to alleviate some of the difficulties in movement. "The fabric was made by the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M), and the silver color came from an aluminized powder coating glued to the green nylon fabric used for the exterior layer, prior to suit construction. Unfortunately, during the intervening years, this coating has in most instances, worn away. Many of these early spacesuits now have brown and green patches where the aluminized coating has deteriorated and the glue and nylon have begun to show through, and give the appearance of being 'rusty'" (Amanda Young, Spacesuits. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Collection. p 30).