NASA policy has always been to give the Smithsonian right of first refusal on all items flown during the US manned space missions. The items that have been the most prized by the Smithsonian are the flown space suits, making it impossible for a member of the public to own one. While it is possible to own an unflown American space suit (or a flown Russian suit for that matter), finding a NASA that is complete is a near impossible thing —indeed of those few that we are aware of having come to market, all 3 were cover layers only (A Gemini G1C spacesuit thermal cover layer, with no boots, gloves, or helmet, sold in these rooms in 2018; a Phase 2 Mercury era cover layer with gloves, helmet, and mocked-up boots, sold at Bonhams in 2014; an A5L cover layer with no helmet, gloves, or boots, made for Armstrong, sold at Christie's in 1999). THE PRESENT SUIT IS THE ONLY AMERICAN SPACESUIT THAT WE ARE AWARE OF TO HAVE COME TO MARKET COMPLETE WITH COVER LAYER, INNER PRESSURE BLADDER, HELMET, GLOVES, AND BOOTS.
Project Gemini was critical to the objective of landing a man on the moon, and the US astronauts logged nearly 1000 hours of spaceflight during the course of the program. The astronauts were given a variety of different tasks that were not assigned to the previous project Mercury, including conducting spacewalks, and living in cramped quarters for extended periods of time. As such, their suits needed to be adapted to the new program requirements. They had to provide a high level of versatility as the astronauts would have to wear them for 14 days; the suits had to be functional while pressurized, helped the astronauts to maintain a level body temperature, and at the same time provide a minimum level of micrometeoroid protection—a lot to ask of one garment. The first of these type suits by the David Clark Company was the G1C, which was much closer in look and feel to the iconic silver space suit of the Mercury program. The Gemini G2-C, as here, was the earliest of the white space suits to be developed, and was an important step in the development of the iconic A7L suit used by the Apollo astronauts to walk on the moon.
The gloves for this suit were originally made for Pete Conrad, who flew on Gemini 5 with Gordon Cooper. He also commanded the Gemini 11 mission during which he made the first ever direct-ascent rendezvous with another space vehicle already in orbit, successfully docking with it only 94 minutes after launch. Conrad was the commander of the back-up crew for the first Apollo orbital flight and eventually commanded Apollo 12, during which he became the 3rd man to land on the moon.
The boots for this suit were originally made for Frank Borman, who flew Gemini 7 during which he set a 14 day spaceflight endurance record. He later commanded Apollo 8 which made him, along with his crewmates Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, the first men to ever orbit the moon. Frank Borman is, at 90, the oldest living American astronaut.
The main body of the suit itself was made for one of the 5 “Air Jumpers”, Air Force Chief Warrant Officer Mitchell Kanowski, who, along with the Gemini astronauts, traveled to David Clark Company in Massachusetts to be fitted for their suits. In testing the Gemini emergency launch escape system, Mr. Kanowski, an experimental parachute specialist, exited a NASA training aircraft at high altitude wearing the suit to test the survivability of the Gemini Astronauts if the system was needed in the event of a failure of the launch vehicle at takeoff, the most dangerous part of every space mission.
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