In 1949, the British Interplanetary Society designed a far-out spacesuit. Recently, a museum had it made for real.

In the 1940s, the British Interplanetary Society—a fantastic club of space geeks that included Arthur C. Clarke—drafted up detailed plans for space missions of all kinds, including a trip to the moon. After World War II ended, BIS member Harry Ross pushed ahead on a lunar spacesuit design and drafted artist Ralph Smith to create fantastic illustrations of concept. Sixty years later, the UK's National Space Centre museum commissioned historical costume and model maker Stephen Wisdom to bring the spacesuit into the real world… using only materials that were available in the 1940s.

"We couldn't commit to making a suit that would actually keep you alive on the Moon, but to be fair – their design was flawed in places anyway," wrote National Space Centre curator Dan Kendall. "It was incredibly well thought out, but it couldn't have done what NASA's Apollo spacesuits did."

From Kendall's description of Ross's 1949 design:

Multilayered textiles kept the wearer in a protective bubble, with pipes supplying oxygen and taking away carbon dioxide. A 'highly-silvered' outer layer helped reflect sunlight, whilst a refrigeration system and a cape were involved in trying to regulate the temperature inside the suit.

The spacesuit was particularly bulky, housing an airlock system in the chest. The idea was that the astronaut could retract their arms from the sleeves to open the inner door of the airlock. This gave them the opportunity to pick up rocks, put them inside the airlock from outside the suit and then examine them inside by pulling their arms out of the sleeves. There was enough room to be able to look down inside your helmet to the chest area and inspect what you'd collected. They could even have their sandwiches passed into their suit by connecting the airlock to a lunar base! 

"The BIS Lunar Spacesuit" (National Space Centre)

credit: National Space Centre

credit: British Interplanetary Society