The scientific tourist #236 — two suits

The Apollo program used two kinds of space suits on the lunar surface — here are examples of both at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in scenic Hutchinson, Kansas:

Two suits

From the placard:

The first generation of the Apollo suit, which was used on Apollo 7 through 14, was the model A7L. This particular model A7L space suit (left) was worn by Apollo 15 astronaut Jim Irwin while training as the backup LM pilot for Apollo 12.

During the last three flights of the Apollo lunar program (Apollo 15, 16, 17), the Astronauts drove a small, electric car called the Lunar Rover. Significant changes in the space suit (including a new flexible joint at the waist) were required in order to allow the astronauts to sit properly in the Rover. This led to the development of the more-advanced model A7L-B suit. This particular model A7L-B space suit (right) was the backup flight suit for the last man to walk on the Moon, Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan.

The A7L-B also incorporated redesigned pressure joints throughout the suit, as well as changes to the inner pressure gloves, which greatly added to the suit’s flexibility and comfort. Improvements were also made to the LEVA helmet by adding a hard overcap unit that contained an adjustable and retractable light shade to further shield the astronaut’s eyes from the intense sunlight. The A7L-B continued to be used throughout the Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs, and became the primary training suit for the early Shuttle astronauts.

The primary visual difference between the two models of suits can be seen in the placement of the hose connectors on the front of the garments. The A7L connectors were laid out in a symmetrical, square fashion. Because of the added waist joint, the A7L-B’s connectors were laid out in a diagonal pattern.

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