The Moon Suit

The sixties were an intense time in American history. The space race was on, hippies were spreading like kudzu, the president got shot, and U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam was getting underway. But this isn’t a blog about politics or horticulture, so let’s talk about space!

In May of 1961, Kennedy stated his goal to land a man on the Moon by the end of the decade, but people were already laying the groundwork. Consider this patent for a moon capsule suit, filed in April of 1961:

A person in a baller space suit with a giant antenna on their head.
USP 3,139,622, FIG. 1

This suit is for the refined moon man who demands perfection. On his head is a “combined solar power source and umbrella 8,” which can double as an antenna! A protective shield 12 is styled as a skirt with a daring flare, but also incorporates a stool 12a to rest on:

A person sitting down in their space suit, playing lonely moon tunes on their harmonica. Or maybe eating a sandwich.
USP 3,139,622, FIG. 2

The description of the figure above suggests that the shield 12 “acts as the main support for the seat indicated at 18 on which the space man is resting while, for example, partaking of food and/or drink.” USP 3,139,622, col. 5, lns 30-33. And I guess that might be a sandwich in the figure? But I prefer to believe that the space man is playing lonely moon tunes on a harmonica, while watching the Earth gently spin over the horizon.

A person in a baller space suit checking out a cool rock.
USP 3,139,622, FIG. 3

At first I thought this was a picture of our moon dude scaling a sheet cliff face, which I thought was pretty nimble! But actually the picture was sideways, and he’s supposed to be checking out a cool rock on the ground. It’s making me wish I had a head support to hold my whole body up while I check out cool rocks on the ground…

This patent was assigned to the U.S. government, so presumably the inventor, Otto Schueller, came up with it while in their employ. Of course, actual space suits ended up looking a bit different, but Schueller’s work was a matter of serious interest at the time. For example, here’s a review of the literature at the time that draws from Schueller’s work.

If you have recommendations for lonely moon tunes, please leave them as a comment to this post!

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