Space Camp flight suit differences and details...

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Space Camp flight suit differences and details...

Postby p51 » Sat Apr 07, 2012 11:55 pm

For about 6 months I seemed to stumble across SC flight suits everywhere I went, at military and aviation collectible shows, antique stores, what have you. It's odd because I live in the Pacific NW, nowhere near where a camp every existed. So anyway, while looking the various suits I have over, I noticed that each was different from every other in some appreciable way. I thought I'd post some examples, and I'd love to see what others here have seen!

First, I have a small adult size early light blue suit. Note the following:
*The zipper pulls are large, the zippers are shiny metal colored
*There are no pockets below the chest at all
*All adjustments are with velcro tabs (oddly, in a royal blue color).
*The nameplate patch is also royal blue.
*The US flag is larger than those in later suits.
*The NASA patch has a plain white cloth backing, not fully embroidered.
Image
The label is pretty plain, leading me to believe that earlier suits were made by a contractor who might have made them for other customers as well as there is no trademark at this point:
Image
Last edited by p51 on Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby p51 » Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:02 am

Next, a adult suit from roughly the same era as above:

*The overall color is the same as the previous suit, but the velcro is much lighter
*Full pockets are now on both legs, including a survival knife pocket on the left shin (with a very light button, real Nomex suits have a large and sturdy black button here)
*All adjustments to the cuffs in the legs and arms are with zippers and don't lend to adjusting as well as the previous tabs.
*The US flag is a full 3X5 inch flag with a yellow border, just like NASA crew suits of the era.
*This particular suit has a University of Alabama Huntsville patch, where I imagine there was usually no patch at all?
*The chest NASA patch is fully embroidered, even the white background.
*The zipper pulls are much smaller.
*Both this and the previous suit have "US Space camp" in the chest patch.
Image
The tag is the best part, as it ID's the suit as simply a Lauch/Entry Suit (LES), the same designation real Nomex suits had in the pre-Challenger disaster era!
Image
Last edited by p51 on Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby p51 » Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:11 am

Next, we get into the era of the royal blue suits, which occured for NASA some time around the 'return to flight' era after the Challenger incident.
I have seen photos of these suits with the standard triangle shaped shuttle program patch, but in 2007 they went to a 25th anniversary patch which is seen here.
*The NASA 'meatball' on the right sleeve is of a slightly different pattern than the agency was using by then. the offical NASA patch didn't have the white border like this and the red arrow went outside the circle.
*All velcro is now black. Why couldn't they ever get it the same color as the suit?
*The flag patch is a standard 2X3 inch yellow-bordered one used by the military, when NASA crews often used a 3X5 inch patch, more than half the time with a white border.
*The chest patch has dropped the "US" from the name.
*The overall cut and design of the suit is identitcal as the previous light blue one, but in a different fabric.
*NOTE: the royal blue suits I have all had the "space gear" tab over the left chest zipper, but that look drove me nuts and I removed them from all my suits. I wished I'd kept one in place now.
Image
The label now shows the full trademark, but doesn't have a maker's name as before:
Image
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Postby p51 » Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:14 am

The typeface changed on the chest Camp patches, as well as from "US Space Camp" to dropping the "US". This might have coincided with the starting of the ill-fated camps in other nations?
This label is on another suit otherwise identical to the one in the previous post:
Image
These are the two main chest patches (earlier ones had a different typeface, if you go back and look at the previous ones. The California patch was given to me by a friend who went to that camp. He said he bought it at a gift shop and doesn't have photos of the suit he wore, so I can't tell if this was a suit patch or not. I doubt it, but include it anyway to show another variation. Note how the shuttle is so much better done in this patch than any of the others:
Image
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Postby p51 » Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:30 am

And finally, forgive my self-indulgence as I really throw a monkey wrench into things by showing my own camp flightsuit.
I collect flight gear and military uniforms as my primary hobby and also consult writers, TV and movie productions on similar subjects from time to time. So, when I go to camp in September, it's a very special anniversary for me. In September of 1982, I first heard of Space Camp and was green with envy of those kids who got to go. I was 12 at the time and knew I didn't have any chance of going. My folks didn't have the money and were what some of the time might call a little overprotective. The idea of them shipping me to Alabama on my own at that age would have been as likely as them buying me a working flamethrower (and yes, I asked for that, too, also to no avail. I got even 15 years later by buying one of those on my own, but that's another story).
I found a few NASA patches somewhere and asked my Mom to sew them onto a blue color shirt that sort of looked like what I'd seen campers wearing on TV. I have no photos of the shirt today, but I wore the heck out of the thing.
Last September, my Mom gave me a box of lose items I left behind when I went into the Army. Included were the patches form that shirt. Soon after, I decided to finally go to space camp, exactly 30 years to the month after I first heard of it. There was no way that I could go without one of those patches. So I swapped out the sleeve patch on a flightsuit I bought at a collectible show over the winter, and swapped out the 25th anniersary patch for a International Space Station patch a pal of mine at Boeing gave me. I swapped out the flag for a larger white-bordered flag like the last shuttle crews wore, and put a royal blue patch of velcro for the nameplate. It's not that big a thing, but it was really important to me to do this.
Image
I assume that people will ask why my suits looks a bit different from everyone else's when I finally get to Space Camp. It'll be hard not to tell them to go to Florida 30 years ago and ask a geeky little kid about that...
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Postby Boomerang » Sun Apr 08, 2012 9:38 am

Interesting variations. My first flight suit from space camp was most similar to the first picture you posted except the velcro was lighter blue and the NASA worm patch was more rounded like the second flight suit. The zippers were all exposed and large like the first picture. I never weore this suit at camp because i outgrew it before my first camp visit but had recieved it for christmas one year. Unfortunately its long gone don't know whatever became of it.

My second suit is more like your second picture excepot the NASA worm has been moved to the sleave under the shuttkle program patch. the suits had the worm their through atleast the late 90s till some of the later light blue suits switched to the old and outdated version of the meatball. Sorry space camp but it still bugs me that they out a Mercury era version of the patch on the flight suiot instead of the modern version. This second suit has all the usual flight suit pockets on it like the one you have pictured.

My third is the royal blue version like you show exceopt it has the NASA meatball instead of the 25th anniversary patch along with the shuttle patch.

All of the versions i have were space gear made had never seen other tags till now. I have seen pictures also of an early suit that had United States Space Camp screenprinted on the back of the suit but have never seen one in person i'd date it to the early days of the camp. I have a pretty goof patch collection as well of old and new camp patches i'll have to try to photograph them sometime and post them
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Postby Hotdog » Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:47 pm

p51 wrote:These are the two main chest patches (earlier ones had a different typeface, if you go back and look at the previous ones. The California patch was given to me by a friend who went to that camp. He said he bought it at a gift shop and doesn't have photos of the suit he wore, so I can't tell if this was a suit patch or not. I doubt it, but include it anyway to show another variation. Note how the shuttle is so much better done in this patch than any of the others:
Image


I remember the quality of the Space Camp patches to vary tremendously. I remember spending extra time in the gift shop sifting through the stack of patches on the rack trying to pick out the one with the most accurate looking orbiter. Some were quite ridiculous looking. I imagine Space Camp probably had two or three different patch vendors?
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Postby Hotdog » Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:00 pm

Image

Here's the flight suits as I remember them from the late 80s. Note the small "Space Gear" tag above the zipper on the left breast.
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Postby p51 » Mon Apr 09, 2012 8:06 pm

Hotdog wrote:Image
Here's the flight suits as I remember them from the late 80s. Note the small "Space Gear" tag above the zipper on the left breast.
I know at some point the “Space Gear” logo got added before the era of the light blue suits was done. I have seen the jacket for that light blue suit (which is incredibly hard to find today, missed out on one on eBay a while back that went for over two hundred bucks) and it had the same labels that yours did. But normally, the light blue ones appear to lack that logo from what I can tell. I assume that wasn’t used for very long before the suits went to royal blue.
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Postby Boomerang » Mon Apr 09, 2012 9:02 pm

Actually the light blue flight suits were used by space camp in to the 21st century. We were still wearing them in 1998 when i went to advanced space academy. Space camp was way behind NASA in making that change. They did finally change the worm to the meatball sometime before the switch to royal blue i have seen some light blue ones with the meatball patch. But the light blue suits hung around for a long time even though the royal blue jackets replaced the light blue ones long before.
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Postby Boomerang » Mon Apr 09, 2012 9:05 pm

I realised in my last post i didnt mnention how i knew they were still in use beyond 1998. I had some younger coworkers in a previous job who were still going to camp in the early 2000's and the switch was just then being made. I\nfact i know the light suits could still be found in the giftshop as late as atleast 2005 even though the royal blue ones were now being sold to campers in prepaid packages.
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Postby Boomerang » Mon Apr 09, 2012 9:08 pm

by the way there was atleast one earlier incarnatiuon of the light blue suits than those shown here. It had the larger exposed zippers, american flag shuttle patch and the old Alabama Space and Rocket Center parch but it also had a black rectangular patch that said United States Space Camp. I really need to post pics of my space camp patch collection
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Postby Hotdog » Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:14 am

Boomerang wrote:by the way there was atleast one earlier incarnatiuon of the light blue suits than those shown here. It had the larger exposed zippers, american flag shuttle patch and the old Alabama Space and Rocket Center parch but it also had a black rectangular patch that said United States Space Camp. I really need to post pics of my space camp patch collection


Yeah I was trying to find a picture of that configuration with the black patch but I could not find one right off hand. I know I have an old book circa 1985 that shows them (Your Future In Space) but it's in storage. Also remember for a brief time in the early days, the small rectangular red patch that said "Alabama Space & Rocket Center".
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Postby Boomerang » Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:13 pm

I have that same book they also appeared in some of the brochures in the early 90s still just old pictures. I'd scan some images but my scanner is down at the moment. That book is also where i saw the picture of a flight suit with United States Space Camp screen printed on the back of the suit. These may have been ones iddued for use during the week and not sold to campers i don't know just might be a way to distinguish them from purchased suits.
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Postby SpaceCanada » Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:56 pm

The light blue flight suits were in use and for sale in 1998 and 1999. The ones we borrowed for the week were also light blue. Counsellors had royal blue flight suits in 1999 for sure - can't confirm 1998. By September 2004, only the largest sizes were available in light blue at the gift shop, all other sizes were royal blue. The ones we borrowed for the week were royal blue. I also noticed something confusing at the time, as the one I borrowed was adult size XXS (which fit perfectly!) but they didn't have such a size at the gift shop (and the sales people kept telling me it didn't exist until I showed them the tag on the one I borrowed.). It was different than the youth sizes because the legs were longer... it's a mystery!

I rearranged the patches on my flight suit as well: replacing the USSRC crest with a Canadian Astronaut Program crest and replacing the American flag with a Canadian one. I also had to make the flight suit smaller to fit better. (Not that it fits well anyway... I don't know anyone with arms that short...)

Image

Also interesting to note is that the NASA worm in 1997 to 1999 (possibly some time before/after) was sewn on the arm, below the Shuttle program patch, whereas in earlier years the crest was above the Space Camp patch.
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Postby Boomerang » Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:16 pm

The worm was actually moved to the sleave as early as 1991 when i got my second flight suit it has the worm on the sleave.

The size confusion mentioned above might be a change in manufacturers for the flight suits. I don't know that there was a change for sure but i did notice one big diffrence between the later light blue suits and the royal blus suits. Aside from the color the light blue suits had a doble zipper like real military flight suits which among other things makes going to the bathroom for men possible without unzipping the suit all the way down. The royal blus suits have only the single zipper on the front its either all up or all down. Might be an indication that they changed manufacturers
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Postby Hotdog » Wed Apr 11, 2012 9:38 pm

Nice suit, Jennifer! I love seeing custom flightsuits done well!

Here is mine, royal blue, complete with my infamous patch design.

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(click to enlarge)
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Postby p51 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:55 am

Hotdog wrote:Here is mine, royal blue, complete with my infamous patch design.
Image
(click to enlarge)
Sure looks like a CWU-27/P to me. This sure isn't a Camp flightsuit, as it has the cover for the left sleeve pocket. Getting one of these in royal blue is a royal pain because they're so expensive new and they often don't get surplused. Besides, Nomex suits aren't very comfortable in warm weather. That, I know all too well from flying in them (everything from WW2 fighters and bombers to modern jet versions of each).
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Postby Hotdog » Tue May 01, 2012 5:40 pm

Yes, it took me forever to find this suit (at the right price). Found it on ebay and was able to personalize it to my liking. And yes its extremely toasty!
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Postby p51 » Thu May 24, 2012 10:50 pm

Just got a new "old" one, this has to be one of the oldest ones out there. I'd been hoping to get one of the old black Camp patches and totally lucked up on this as it included the wings as well, and it cost me next to nothing! :wink:
*Made by Avirex, which was a trendy clothing line for pilots and airplane fans (it's still around but not so much for aviation stuff now). I was very surpised to see they made the early flight suits.
*No NASA patch at all.
*All velcro is black, adjustment tabs as all the cuffs.
*The flag patch is yellow-bordered, slightly larger than 2X3 one.
*Early Space Camp patch, clearly pre-movie in design.
*The chest patch above the nametape area has the name of the space and rocket center on red.
*No pockets below the waist.
*Standard high-quality Shuttle patch to the right sleeve, same as on later suits.
*NOTE: it came with wings, saying, "Space Camp II". Does anyone know the story there?
Image
Details of the label, note the leather zipper pull:
Image
The Camp patch and wings:
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