Inside Adam Savage’s Cave: New Spacesuit Hardware!

Adam gets more space stuff in the cave! With the 50th anniversary of the moon landing later this month, Adam shares a few new props made by fellow space enthusiast Ryan Nagata. First is a unique camera+propulsion system made for Gemini, followed by an Apollo-era bubble helmet of unsurpassed fidelity!

Comments (2)

2 thoughts on “Inside Adam Savage’s Cave: New Spacesuit Hardware!

  1. oof, that shape and material sounds like a nightmare to get exactly right! my hat is off to ryan.

  2. As you probably know by now, Adam, the “space gun” (or “Hand-held Maneuvering Unit,” HMU) did fly on Gemini missions 4, 8, 10, and 11. Only Ed White on Gemini 4 and Mike Collins on Gemini 10 actually used it, though, due to unrelated problems on the other two missions.

    All of the HMUs used pressurized nitrogen as propellant, so what came out was cold gas, not rocket exhaust. Ed White’s HMU carried the nitrogen in the two little tanks beneath the handle, while Mike Collins’ HMU was connected to a nitrogen supply on the spacecraft. Both astronauts found the device useful for maneuvering. White was only supposed to be “outside” for about ten minutes, but he had such a good time that it was twenty-one minutes before he was back in with the hatch closed.

    Mike Collins had a much more interesting time. In addition to an EVA where he simply stood up in the hatch above his seat, Collins used the HMU to retrieve micrometeoroid test panels from two Agena upper stages. One was the Agena 10, docked to the nose of the Gemini 10 spacecraft. The other was more challenging. Command Pilot John Young (Gemini 3 and 10, Apollo 10 and 16, STS-1) flew Gemini 10 to rendezvous with Agena 8, abandoned in orbit by Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott after Gemini 8’s near-catastrophe. Using a combination of the HMU and handholds, Collins crossed the final gap to the inert Agena to retrieve the second test panel.

    Shuttle and ISS astronauts have a version of the HMU on their suits. It’s called the SAFER, Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue. (I think the acronym came first. NASA loves cute acronyms.) SAFER is a basic, nitrogen gas maneuvering system attached to the bottom of the EMU life support backpack. If an astronaut is no longer attached to the ISS, the SAFER provides the necessary thrust to get back to the structure.

    The history of NASA maneuvering units is full of clever ways of moving people in the vacuum of space. Gemini also flew a backpack device, the Astronaut Maneuvering Unit, though astronaut Gene Cernan ran into difficulties during the EVA that prevented him from testing it. Skylab astronauts tested another HMU, plus a maneuvering backpack and foot-mounted thrusters, all powered by nitrogen, inside the space lab. Then, of course, there’s the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) of the Shuttle program, which enabled the recovery of satellites.

    I share your fascination (obsession?) with the history and promise of space flight. Though I’ll be 62 this birthday, I still hope to get to the Moon one of these days!

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