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[i]Spacesuits are the ultimate in couture. Think about it: custom-fit garments, dozens of layers deep, made from innovative textiles that can run $5,000 per square foot, with eye-catching accessories. And the footwear? Near impossible to walk in.
Often, the outfits are worn just once before becoming fragile artifacts that deteriorate and corrode.
"To last was never a consideration," says Amanda Young, spacesuit caretaker for the National Air and Space Museum. "They were built to do their short, hard job with no failures."
Gemini suits, moon-dust-coated boots and Neil Armstrong's gold-visored helmet -- all preserved in the Smithsonian's Paul E. Garber Facility in Suitland under Young's careful watch -- are just some of the stars of her new book, "Spacesuits: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Collection." The book focuses on the evolution from the pressure suits of the 1930s, used by aircraft pilots trying to reach higher altitudes, to the R2-D2-like fiberglass and woven steel suits of the post-Apollo period.[/i]
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