Alana Zimmer is an adventurer seeking new sights and new heights. After finishing a degree in Art History, she worked with NASA Ames Research Center's New Media Innovation Team. She is currently writing, and exploring the cosmos in foggy San Francisco.
What does it take to be an Olympian? You must train every day. You must meticulously watch your consumption. You have troops of individuals coaching you for years. As an Olympian, the acceptable margin of error is so minute – milliseconds and millimeters are the measures of success or failure. Your accomplishments are glorified and you are a national hero. Such is the same with an astronaut.
When our boys were sent to the moon, they were sporting an intergalactic Varsity uniform. The footage above, put together by Kasia Cieplak von-Baldegg of Atlantic Magazine from the Special Collections & Archives of George Mason University Library, showcases various Space Suit tests for the Apollo Mission. The suit chosen for the expedition is shown on a high school football field throwing the pigskin, you can overhear the panelists say, “The Redskins could use him.”
Tom Colbie reimagines reality with his Shots from a Parallel Dimension. His astronauts are cast in a uniform color tone. His frames are granulated; its noise separating the viewer from the subject. They are familiar, some standing on the shoulders of great works of the past (ie. da Vinci’s The Lady with an Ermine and David’s The Death of Marat), while others appear appear to come straight from a lucid dream.
Final Frontier Design (FFD) is artist and designer Ted Southern – a costume engineer for such Broadway productions as The Little Mermaid, Equus, and other productions – and Nikolay Moiseev – who worked for the Russian Federal Space Agency and its prime space suit contractor for nearly two decades. The duo met at a 2007 NASA Completion where they worked together to design a new spacesuit glove. The pair now finds residence in Brooklyn designing spacesuits that look a mixture between a scarecrow and a lobster.
At FFD, we are working together to bring our vision of a lightweight, inexpensive, and highly functional space suit to the new space industry. Our Kickstarter goal, the FFD Third Generation (3G) Suit, will be built to conform to the standards of NASA flight certification to the best of our ability, and will feature upgrades to our 2011 Second Generation (2G) Suit (pictured with Nik), including a higher operating pressure, a carbon fiber waist ring, a retractable helmet, and improved gloves and glove disconnects. Our plan is to complete construction of this 3G Suit before 2013.
Technology connects us more than ever. Your friend’s status updates notify you where they are nearby or gives you a slight peep into their separate, parallel lives. Technological advances are also isolating, as they do not demand interactions with others, but give you the appearance of such.
Andrew Rice’s astronaut lithographs are dark. As he puts it, they are are displayed in “layers upon layers of entrapment… [in a] state, where we cannot access the world and the world cannot access us.” His suits are beautifully detailed and intricate but yet timeless in the manner that the surroundings are devoid of time or place – just a grey wash that showcases its figure as active in a pursuit of survival in the modern age. They are isolated in the urban wasteland and cloaked in a gown of supreme technological advancement.
How bizarre it is to see astronauts in extreme situations while safe on earth. The above depictions of space suit tests (noise, cold and heat respectively) were included in Werner Büdeler’sProjekt Apollo – Das Abanteuer der Mondlandung (Bertelsmann Sachbuchverlag, 1969). Projekt Apollo recounts the complete story of the Apollo missions and is stuffed with illustrations andphotographs. Büdeler was a German aerospace journalist and nonfiction writer. In 1970, he was awards the Jules-Verne medal for aerospace journalism. These look like they could be inserts into a Jules Verne science fiction narrative of brave explorers gearing up for the next beautifully bizarre mission, rather than the work of non-fiction.