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Author Topic:   Skylab astronaut flightsuits and garments
Larry McGlynn
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Posts: 930
From: Boston, MA
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 06-02-2007 04:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I could use some help with a couple of questions about the tan Skylab flight garments used on station. What is the name of material that the tan flight jackets and pants were made out of?

Are there any websites that are directly related to the flight garments used on Skylab (I have already been to the general Skylab sites)?

Who was the manufacturer of the garments used by the astronauts of Skylab?

I am not looking for the EVA spacesuits, I am looking for information on the tan flight suits that they wore in the station itself.

SpaceAholic
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From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-02-2007 06:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a Skylab Experience Bulletin (No. 6 / JSC-09540), entitled "Space Garments for IVA Wear" that would likely have those answers but it has been pulled off the NASA NTRS server.

Provided nobody else on the forum holds a copy I can initiate a query via alternate means for the source document.

space1
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From: Danville, Ohio, USA
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 06-02-2007 07:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for space1   Click Here to Email space1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe it was PBI (polybenzimidazole), a fabric similar to Kevlar and Nomex.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 06-02-2007 09:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The following was earlier posted by David Hitt. From "Homesteading Space," the forthcoming Skylab history:
Eventually, the Skylab astronauts all agreed on a clothing set. It contained cotton T-shirts for warm weather wear, and provisioned a change of underwear every two days and of outerwear once a week. The outerwear was made of a fireproof cloth, polybenzemidazole (called PBI; "We couldn't pronounce it either," quipped Kerwin) that only came in a golden brown. But it was comfortable. Rejected were the proposed small-bore fiberglass (called "beta cloth") items, which itched.
And from PBIGold.com:
PBI was originally developed for the United States Air Force after a fire aboard an Apollo spacecraft killed three astronauts in 1967. The Air Force selected PBI because its superior thermal performance provided more burn protection than competitive fibers. NASA used PBI as part of the astronauts' clothing on Apollo, Skylab and numerous space shuttle flights. PBI became commercially available in 1983, when the production plant went on stream.

Matt T
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From: Chester, Cheshire, UK
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posted 06-03-2007 01:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Welson Co. were the manufacturers, as they had been for the Apollo flight suits and many Apollo EMU accessories.

Regarding materials another element of the inflight garments, the T-shirt, was made from Durette.

Larry McGlynn
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From: Boston, MA
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posted 06-03-2007 09:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Were the garments disposed of after their use?

Matt T
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From: Chester, Cheshire, UK
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posted 06-04-2007 02:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Circumstantial evidence suggests that at least some of the flown items were returned, as they have appeared in recent auctions.

Additionally I believe the Smithsonian holds several sets of these garments, flown and otherwise.

Larry McGlynn
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From: Boston, MA
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posted 06-04-2007 11:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Okay, so used Skylab garments were stowed away after use for return of Earth.

Matt T
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From: Chester, Cheshire, UK
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posted 06-04-2007 12:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not to split hairs but without knowing offhand how many sets each crew member took I'd go with "some were stowed away for return."

carmelo
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From: Messina, Sicilia, Italia
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 02-28-2016 03:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From a NASA report on Skylab habitability and crew quarters:
Astronaut clothing for early space flight missions was designed principally to meet the requirements of biomedical instrumentation, pressure-suit operations, communications equipment, nonflammability, and null gravity. The influence of aircraft flight garments was noticeable in the preference for one-piece garments, location of pockets, and insignia. Little attention was given to styling. For Skylab, comfort and overall appearance received increased consideration. However, the garments were compromised by flammability constraints. The wardrobe was expanded to include a nonflammable jacket, a knit shirt, trousers, conventional cotton T-shirts, undershorts, and socks.

The conventional pants/shirt/jacket combination proved to be convenient for the same reasons that the combination is convenient on Earth: easy adjustment to different temperatures, ease in donning and doffing, less sensitivity to fit, and waste management convenience.

Knitted or elastic cuffs inside the sleeves and pant legs were intended to prevent the sleeves and pant legs from riding up. Several crewmembers removed the cuffs and noted that only occasionally was it necessary to shake their sleeves or pant legs back into place. However, other crewmembers seemed to prefer the cuffs.

Clothing became soiled mostly from the wearer's body, not from the spacecraft. The outer garments could be worn much longer than anticipated and the converse was true of the underwear. Too many outer garments were provided but not enough underwear and socks were included in the clothing budget.

The outer shirt was knitted of a nonflammable synthetic fiber called Durette. When it was worn without a T-shirt underneath, it quickly developed a particularly offensive odor.

There was no requirement for protective headgear. Lightly padded, soft, bump hats were furnished but not used.

Pockets were especially useful in Skylab. Pockets provided one of the few places to temporarily stow and carry small articles. Skylab experience indicates that pockets deserve more engineering attention than they usually receive. The location and nature of pockets for use in space flight should be somewhat different than on Earth. The pockets should be deep enough to close over items and the pocket should close simply and naturally. Pockets on the lower part of the pant legs are not readily accessible. Additional bulk on the lower legs compounds the mobility problem.

PBI (polybenzimidazole) came only in brown-tan and this is the reason because pressure suits of early four STS flights switch from orange-gold of overgarment to brown-tan of definitive PBI overgarnment.

Ronpur
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From: Brandon, Fl
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posted 02-28-2016 08:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great info! Were these stowed onboard Skylab when it was launch for all 9 crew members, or taken up on each Apollo flight?

Ken Havekotte
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From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
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posted 02-28-2016 09:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There were lots of clothing and equipment items of many categories that had been placed onboard the Skylab OWS when first orbited on May 14, 1973.

Much of the onboard-placed items did pertain to each of the visiting 3 Skylab astronaut teams, even though it would be months later when the last two Skylab crews entered the OWS. Some of the Skylab crews' personal items — clothing included — were already onboard the orbital space station long before needed/used by their designated crewmembers.

I do know for certain that some of the Skylab astronauts (Conrad, Lousma, and Gibson for sure) cut-away Beta patches, name labels, and flags from their in-flight garments to be kept as personal flight souvenirs from their clothing. This may be an indication that perhaps their actual used-clothing apparel (trousers and jackets) were not brought back home.

holcombeyates
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From: UK
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posted 02-29-2016 04:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for holcombeyates     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All the clothing, toothbrushes, etc. were launched with Skylab. Every couple of weeks they changed outer garments and they went into the refuse/oxygen tank.

On a previous couple of auctions, Weitz and Lousma have consigned their patches, which were cut from these beta cloth garments.

Larry McGlynn
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Posts: 930
From: Boston, MA
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 02-29-2016 07:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
They did return with the Durette flight suits. Here is the photo of the Skylab II crew just after recovery.

Pogue and Gibson kept portions of their flight suits after the mission. They auctioned off flight suit jackets and booties at the Swann and the ASF auctions in the mid 2000s.

Ken Havekotte
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Posts: 2204
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 02-29-2016 02:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Larry, I am not that certain that all Skylab crewmen kept their flown Durette flight suits in full. I do recall on prior Apollo recoveries that new/unflown suits, with Beta patches included, were given to the astronauts by recovery team members as they were preparing to helicopter-over on their way to their awaiting pickup aircraft carrier.

Didn't know (or had just forgotten) about the prior auction lots from Pogue and Gibson, even though I do have in my own collection flown Beta patches and other cut-away flight suit souvenirs, etc., from a few of the Skylab crewmen — but thought I was told by one of the crewmembers that their Durette flight suits were left behind. An interesting topic to check out further that I will work on.

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