While the Project Mercury suit was designed solely as a secondary source of protection for the astronauts, the Project Gemini suit needed to be fully functional for both intravehicular and extravehicular space activity. The B.F. Goodrich company, who produced the Project Mercury suit, and The Arrowhead Products Company were busy examining their prototypes when The David Clark Company surprisingly submitted a prototype manufactured from their own funds. Further surprise showed that the Clark piece was superior to the others, and the David Clark Company won the contract for the Gemini space suit.
For all but the Gemini 7 mission, the G3C and G4C models were used. Six inner layers of nylon and Nomex, including a rubberized nylon “bladder,” a link net retaining layer, and an outer layer of Nomex made up the G3C. Suit accessories included removable Nomex combat-style boots, a full-pressure, earphone-and-microphone-equipped helmet, and gloves detachable by locking rings.
The G4C model, while identical to the G3C, came in two different styles, though both included additional layers of Mylar insulation for temperature control. The removeable boots remained on the commander’s suit, but integrated boots and a detachable sun visor were added to the pilot’s version.
The G5C suit was the first pressure suit successfully removed by an astronaut during a space mission. Jim Lovell managed to do so, although with much difficulty due to this size, and Borman later did the same. Despite this difficulty, the switch to flight suits allowed NASA to see that astronauts would be much more comfortable wearing their flight suits for “non-critical” phases of a mission, a practice firmly adopted from Apollo 7 to the present day.
The Gemini space suits were a major milestone for NASA. They allowed for the true nature of the astronaut: spacewalking, and paved the way for the Apollo program.
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