|A1C Suit - NASA suit technicians assist Astronaut Virgil Grissom during suiting|
Credit: NASA. 24,061 bytes. 256 x 369 pixels.
For the initial Block I Apollo missions a modification of the Gemini G4C suit was to have been flown. After the death of the Apollo 1 crew on the pad, Block I missions were cancelled and the suit never flew. The A1C was a full pressure suit featuring a closed loop system and custom sizing.
Representatives from MSC Crew Systems Division (CSD) visited Hamilton Standard to discuss space suit development. The prototype suit (024) was demonstrated and its features compared with the Gemini suit. Deficiencies in the Apollo helmet were noted and suggestions were made on how to improve the design. (At this time, CSD began looking into the possibility of using Gemini suits during Apollo earth orbital flights, and during the next several weeks began testing Gemini suits in Apollo environments.)
Ling-Temco-Vought received a contract from MSC, valued at $365,000, for unmanned testing of Gemini and Apollo space suits in the firm's space environment simulator.
Crew Systems Division approved the use of modified Gemini space suits in Block I Apollo spacecraft. MSC and David Clark Company amended their Gemini suit contract to cover design and fabrication of a prototype Block I suit.
The U.S. Navy Air Crew Equipment Laboratory began testing the Gemini Block I Apollo space suit in a wide range of environmental temperatures to determine the comfort and physiological responses of the wearer. The program, delayed because of difficulties with humidity control, was to be completed in three to four weeks.
Gemini Program Office informed the NASA-McDonnell Management Panel of the decision to fly the new, lightweight G5C space suit on Gemini VII. Tested by Crew Systems Division, the suit displayed a major improvement in comfort and normal mobility without sacrificing basic pressure integrity or crew safety. The suit weighed about nine pounds and was similar to the G4C suit except for the elimination of the restraint layer and the substitution of a soft helmet design with an integral visor and no neckring. Under study was the possibility of allowing one or both astronauts to remove their suits during the mission. NASA Headquarters, on July 2, had directed that the flight crew not use full pressure suits during the Gemini VII mission.
The design of the Block I space suit helmet ear cup and attachment was finalized. Based on evaluation of AFRM 007 acoustic test data, it was determined that existing Gemini-type "soft" ear cups were adequate for Block I flights. North American and David Clark Company specifications would be changed to reflect revised requirements. The majority of drawings for the suit had been reviewed and approved by MSC's Crew Systems Division. Remaining to be resolved and approved were selection of helmet visor material, installation of helmet microphones and earphones, communications harness, and fingertip glove lighting systems.
|Apollo 204 - Apollo 1 prime crew in spacesuits at the launch complex|
Credit: NASA. 54,564 bytes. 599 x 425 pixels.
Both astronauts wanted to remove their suits after the second sleep period and don them only for transient dynamic conditions, specifically rendezvous and reentry. Primary concern was preventing the degradation of crew performance by maintaining crew comfort during the long-duration mission. Gemini Program Office had participated in the G5C suit program and certified the suit for intravehicular manned flight in the Gemini spacecraft on November 19. When Gemini VII was launched on December 4, the mission plan required one astronaut to be suited at all times, but on December 12 NASA Headquarters authorized both crew members to have their suits off at the same time.
Spacecraft No. 6 was returned to complex 19 on December 5. Within 24 hours after the launch of Gemini VII, both stages of GLV-6 were erected, spacecraft and launch vehicle were mated, and power was applied. Subsystems Reverification Tests were completed December 8. The only major problem was a malfunction of the spacecraft computer memory. The computer was replaced and checked out December 7-8. The Simulated Flight Test, December 8-9, completed prelaunch tests. The launch, initially scheduled for December 13, was rescheduled for December 12.